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Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

While out today at the annual local Reindeer Day festival, I walked past a woman saying

The best way to spread Christmas cheer…

Instinctively, I joined in on the rest of the truly splendid sentence:

… is singing loud for all to hear!

Thus, how could today’s feast not be one inspired by the perfect Christmas film Elf? If you haven’t seen it yet, please go and watch it immediately. Go, now. Go. Are the cotton-headed ninnymuggins gone? Excellent; then I’ll continue! (more…)

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SnowQueen_EdmundDulac8

The Snow Queen, by Edmund Dulac, appearing in Stories from Hans Andersen by H. C. Andersen (Hodder and Stoughton, 1911). Via Project Gutenberg.

When it came to writing today’s post, I had it in my head that Gerda in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen had a great variety of food in her travels through the seasons to find Kay. But Andersen makes only passing mentions of the girl’s food. When living in the house with the wondrous flower garden, she is allowed to eat all the cherries she wishes. In a brief aside, these may be one of the ways in which she is enchanted into forgetting Kay, as when mortals, when in faery lands, eat the food and drink made available, and thus forget all about their homes. In the palace, she begins with scraps of bread provided by crows, but leaves on her quest in a coach “well stored with sweet cakes, and under the seat … fruit and gingerbread nuts”. In contrast, the robbers live simply on what they hunt and forage in the forest – rabbits and hares, and the little robber girl herself gives Gerda hams and bread as a leaving gift. There aren’t any details of the food provided by the Lapland and Finland women, but it seems plausible that fish was involved somehow. (more…)

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Yesterday’s post (now with English translation!) looked at the surroundings in which a feast is set, in a medieval setting. Today, I move considerably closer in time and in space to home.
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A true feast must look beautiful as well as taste beautiful. It must take place in rich surroundings, and those attending should wear their finest raiment. While yesterday’s post focused on the hard work of kitchen staff creating the feast, today’s is all about the setting of the stage.
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The last few posts have focused on feasts as they are happening, with no attention paid to how the feast came to be. That changes tonight, with a visit to the Great Kitchen of Stirling Castle. After an extensive refurbishment project, the castle reopened in 2011. My family and I visited it more times than I can count when I was a child, so it was the perfect place in which to celebrate Mum’s birthday after the reopening.
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Despite my continuing to wrack the old brains, I still have not identified the floral feast from an also as yet unremembered childhood tale. Today’s post is nonetheless still redolent of flowers, albeit flowers put to a deadly purpose. May I present Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema‘s The Roses of Heliogabalus? (more…)

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For today’s feast, I had a distinctly floral theme in mind. Somewhere, there is a book which describes a meal with food and drink made all of flowers. But I cannot remember what it is, and have given up on identifying it for now, on the basis that there may not otherwise be a post. But if any of you have suggestions, please write in.

I have therefore turned to another of my childhood favourite books, Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess (1905). Sara Crewe, a princess in her heart and mind if not in reality, is our hero, and her imagination is the key to her survival in dark times. Today’s feast takes place on one of the worst days in the story, and for a while renews her, before leading to greater despair. But there is always the Magic to make things right. I apologise for the length of this excerpt, but it’s the full story of the feast, and proof that good food by itself is not always enough to make a real banquet.
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