You’ll have guessed by now that I like good food. I like knowing where it comes from, how it is made and how to make it shine. So it won’t come as a surprise to you that I also love reading about food…
There are a few food quote memories that come to mind when looking over my Read Goodreads shelf: the pantry overflowing with hearty food stored for the Winter in The Hobbit, the tables groaning under the weight of the start-of-year banquet at Hogwarts in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the rich ice cream eaten with sweet, crunchy cones in Homecoming.
This was frankly a difficult list to write! But here are my favourite food quotes.
The meat pie in Danny the Champion of the World
“I began to unwrap the waxed paper from around the doctor’s present, and when I had finished, I saw before me the most enormous and beautiful pie in the world. It was covered all over, top, sides, and bottom, with rich golden pastry. I took a knife from beside the sink and cut out a wedge. I started to eat it with my fingers, standing up. It was a cold meat pie. The meat was pink and tender with no fat or gristle in it, and there were hard-boiled eggs buried like treasures in several different places. The taste was absolutely fabulous. When I had finished the first slice I cut another and ate that, too.”
Danny the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl
I don’t even like cold meat pies very much, but this one tastes absolutely wonderful in my imagination. Roald Dahl’s books are full of food: the decadent chocolate cake in Matilda, the amazing fry-up in the The BFG and the wonderfully imaginative creations in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But this quote is my favourite because it translates the very simple pleasure of a good meal, without any frills (or even plates).
The omelette and canned peaches in All the Light We Cannot See
(Image borrowed from Yummy Books: you should take a look at her recipe for preserved peaches!)
“Eggs crack. Butter pops in a hot pan. (…) Soon all of Marie-Laure’s attention is absorbed by the smells blooming around her: egg, spinach, melting cheese. An omelet arrives. (…) The eggs taste like clouds. Like spun gold. (…) Marie-Laure can hear a can opening, juice slopping into a bowl. Seconds later she is eating wedges of wet sunlight.”
All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
I LOVE this one. Marie-Laure, a young blind French girl, has not eaten in several days. When she and her father finally arrive at her great-uncle’s house after having fleed the German invasion in Paris, her feet are throbbing and her belly aching with hunger. They have barely made it across the threshold before the lady of the house proceeds to make them some eggs with homemade canned peaches for dessert. This one rides home with me because I often make myself an omelette when I get home completely famished and have-to-eat-right-now-before-I-even-take-off-my-shoes. I like to add a dash of hot sauce and dried chives (yum) and some grated parmesan cheese if I have it.
I cheated a little for the next quote that is actually several food quotes from the Hunger Games series:
The Lamb Stew in The Hunger Games
“The stew’s made with tender chunks of lamb and dried plumbs today. Perfect on a bed of wild rice.”
“I rip it open at once and inside there’s a feast – fresh rolls, goat cheese, apples, and best of all, a tureen of that incredible lamb stew… Every cell in my body wants me to dig into that stew and cram it, handful by handful into my mouth.”
“I poke around in the pile, about to settle on some cod chowder, when Peeta holds out a can to me. “Here.” I take it, not knowing what to expect. The label reads LAMB STEW.”
The Hunger Games Trilogy, Suzanne Collins
Food is a key element in The Hunger Games: Katniss nearly starved to death as a child and eventually turned to hunting in the woods in order to feed her family. In the three books, we read about fancy bread, frosted cakes, fresh goat cheese, orange juice, sweet strawberries and elaborate breakfasts, but the succulent lamb stew is the dish that comes back again and again. We also read of wild dog soup, chunks of charred rat and dandelion salad, but that is another matter entirely.
The anodyne liniment cake in Anne of Green Gables
“Anne Shirley!” she exclaimed, “what on earth did you put into that cake?”
“Nothing but what the recipe said, Marilla,” cried Anne with a look of anguish. “Oh, isn’t it all right?”
“All right! It’s simply horrible. Mr. Allan, don’t try to eat it. Anne, taste it yourself. What flavoring did you use?”
“Vanilla,” said Anne, her face scarlet with mortification after tasting the cake. “Only vanilla. Oh, Marilla, it must have been the baking powder. I had my suspicions of that bak–“
“Baking powder fiddlesticks! Go and bring me the bottle of vanilla you used.”
Anne fled to the pantry and returned with a small bottle partially filled with a brown liquid and labeled yellowly, “Best Vanilla.”
Marilla took it, uncorked it, smelled it.
“Mercy on us, Anne, you’ve flavored that cake with anodyne liniment. I broke the liniment bottle last week and poured what was left into an old empty vanilla bottle. I suppose it’s partly my fault — I should have warned you — but for pity’s sake why couldn’t you have smelled it?”
Anne dissolved into tears under this double disgrace.
“I couldn’t — I had such a cold!” and with this she fairly fled to the gable chamber, where she cast herself on the bed and wept as one who refuses to be comforted. (…)
” ‘Oh, Marilla,’ sobbed Anne, without looking up, ‘I’m disgraced forever. I shall never be able to live this down. It will get out – things always do get out in Avonlea. Diana will ask me how my cake turned out and I shall have to tell her the truth. I shall always be pointed at as the girl who flavored a cake with anodyne liniment.’ »
Anne of Green Gables, L.M Montgomery
This is a very well-known scene in the first Anne of Green Gables book. I really identified with Anne here, because I have also made my fair share of mistakes in the kitchen and felt upset, embarrassed and annoyed. I chose to include this food quote last because of the message that I get out of it. I do find that we often put pressure on ourselves to make a perfect meal in certain situations when it really doesn’t matter when you think about it. Although I love trying to make good food, in my opinion the most important thing about these occasions is the people you’re sitting at the dinner table with. And even if you do decide to prepare something more elaborate and it goes a little wrong – who really cares? In the grand scheme of things, it really isn’t that important. It’ll be a funny story to tell somewhere along the line.
That being said, the other lesson learned from the Anne of Green Gables quote is to double check all of your ingredients before cooking. A piece of advice I often forget to follow, but that I suggest you readers try to :)