As I kid, I was bit of a book worm. I really enjoyed the Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon series and I absolutely loved Enid Blyton books. I’d regularly pile up all the pillows I could find in the house on my parent’s bed and hide myself away to read – the Famous Five and Secret Seven, Mallory Towers and St Clares. So many of Blyton’s books were based around the adventures of kids my own age, most likely why they appealed so much. What connected all of those stories together though, was food (also probably why the books appealed to me ha!).
Packing a picnic for a trip to the countryside, eating at a farm house in the mountains in Wales, sneaking around for a midnight snack at boarding school – so often I would read one of her books and get so excited when the food was described. Looking back now, the food was so simple – sandwiches and a tin of fruit or perhaps scones with jam and cream.
Here’s a few excerpts:
Soon they were all sitting on the rocky ledge, which was still warm, watching the sun go down into the lake. It was the most beautiful evening, with the lake as blue as a cornflower and the sky flecked with rosy clouds. They held their hard-boiled eggs in one hand and a piece of bread and butter in the other, munching happily. There was a dish of salt for everyone to dip their eggs into.
‘I don’t know why, but the meals we have on picnics always taste so much nicer than the ones we have indoors,’ said George.
― Enid Blyton, Five Go Off in a Caravan
Silky was pleased. She sat there brushing her beautiful, golden hair and ate sandwiches with them. She brought out a tin of Pop Cakes, which were lovely. As soon as you bit into them they went pop! and you suddenly found your mouth filled with new honey from the middle of the little cakes. Frannie took seven, one after the other, for she was rather greedy.
― Enid Blyton, The Magic Faraway Tree
A long, sturdy kitchen table was covered with a snow-white cloth, and on it was set the finest meal the children had ever seen in their lives.
A great ham sat ready to be carved. A big tongue garnished round with bright green parsley sat by its side. An enormous salad with hard-boiled eggs sprinkled generously all over it was in the middle of the table. Two cold roast chickens were on the table too, with little curly bits of cold bacon set round.
The children’s eyes nearly fell out of their heads. What a feast! And the scones and cakes! The jams and the pure yellow honey! The jugs of creamy milk!
― Enid Blyton, The Mountain of Adventure
Is it any wonder that so many foodies have obsessed over food in Blyton’s books too? Even now, if you Google ‘Enid Blyton and food’, you’ll come across a myriad of results from bloggers testing recipes and some just listing every item of food mentioned in a Blyton book ( I quite enjoyed reading the list).
Blyton made you want to jump into the pages and share the meal with her characters. The characters could be running from a villain, but the action always stopped for a meal.
Do you sometimes have these nostalgic moments when you feel the need to buy or do something that brings you back to that time? I know I have them. In fact, in one of those moments, I began a really long search to find a copy of Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer by Jane Brocket. The idea of a recipe book based on books from my childhood was just so appealing, I couldn’t help myself.
Sadly, the book didn’t contain the recipe I was dying to try: Silky’s Pop Biscuits from the Faraway Tree. In the Faraway Stories, the food was always so fantastical. Pop Biscuits would explode and from them, delicious honey would pour into your mouth. They also had Google Buns (way before the search engine came along!), with a large sherbet-filled current in the middle. There’s also the sweet I’d love to try, but may require the help of Heston Blumenthal to make: toffee shocks, the sweets that expanded in your mouth until they finally exploded into the nothing. I’m sure it would give me a fright, but it would be worth it! That, and shocking everyone else!
If you’re looking for me, I could just be hiding in my room re-reading The Mountain of Adventure (another of my favourites). I hope you’ll join me (just not in my room, I can’t share the pillow fort).
What’s your favourite book food? Harry Potter? Anne of Green Gables? Something else? I’d love to hear about it!