In my book, the test of a good writer is his or her ability to write about food so that I can actually TASTE it!
Enid Blyton, for example, was constantly hauling out the picnic basket and dispensing the proverbial lashings of ginger beer and the books of Roald Dahl, Beatrix Potter, Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, A A Milne, J R R Tolkien and C S Lewis are FULL of nosh and noshing! And for ever book I mention, you could probably suggest a dozen more...
Of my many favourites, the one I savour the most is in Kenneth Grahame’s incomparable ‘The Wind in the Willows’.
I read it first - and in one day! - when I was nine years old. Grahame clearly loved his food and the book contains several substantial meals. But it is the simple snack that the Gaoler’s Daughter takes to the hapless Toad when he finds himself incarcerated in “a dank and noisome dungeon” that sets my taste buds dancing:
“She carried a tray, with a cup of fragrant tea steaming on it; and a plate piled high with very hot buttered toast, cut thick, very brown on both sides, with butter running through the holes in it in great golden drops, like honey from the honeycomb. The smell of that buttered toast simply talked to Toad, and with no uncertain voice; talked of warm kitchens, of breakfasts on bright frosty mornings, of cosy parlour firesides on winter evenings, when one’s ramble was over and slippered feet were propped on the fender; of the purring of contented cats and the twitter of sleepy canaries…”
Now, that’s how toast ought to be! If only Mr Russell Hobbs had read ‘The Wind in the Willows’…
[Illustration © Ernest H Shepard]