10 Great Meals In Literature

A friend – quite the eclectic reader – sent an interesting piece from The Telegraph of a few years back.

10 Great Meals In Literature

Wow.  Great idea.   How did the selector do?    Let’s see.

1) Mad Hatters Tea Party in Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

2) The Episode of the Madeleine in In Search of Lost Time (Remembrance of Things Past) by Marcel Proust

3) Apple Pie and Ice Cream in On The Road by Jack Kerouac

4) Please, Sir, can I have some more from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens

5) Gifts of Food in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

6) Try Pots’ steaming chowder in Moby Dick by Herman Melville

7) Melting Raclette cheese on a fire in Heidi by Johanna Spyri

8) Sandwiches and coffee in Millennium by Stieg Larsson

9) Cheese Sandwich and Malted Milk in The Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger

10) Avocados in The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

How did he do?

I can think of a few others.

    1. The Last Supper in The Gospels of the New Testament
    2. Lotuses in The Odyssey by Homer
    3. The Appearance of Banquo’s Ghost in Macbeth by Shakespeare
    4. Ugolino and His Children in The Inferno by Dante
    5. The Christmas Goose in A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
    6. The Feast in Babette’s Feast by Isak Dinesen
    7. Liver, Fava Beans and a Nice Chianti in Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
    8. Toasted Cheese which its in the Aubrey/Maturin series by Patrick O’Brian
    9. The Tears Cake in Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
    10. Meal on the Raft in Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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  1. Mariana2 says:

    The Tale of Peter Rabbit.

    I am sorry to say that Peter was not very well during the evening.
    His mother put him to bed, and made some camomile tea; and she gave a dose of it to Peter!
    “One table-spoonful to be taken at bed-time.”

    But Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail had bread and milk and blackberries for supper.

  2. Mariana2 says:

    The Hobbits at Farmer Maggot’s

    …a generous supper was laid on the large table…There was beer in plenty, and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, besides much other solid farmhouse fare. The dogs lay by the fire and gnawed rinds and cracked bones.

  3. Hidden One says:

    Lembas in The Lord of the Rings.

    [Both the Tolkien references are good. I had also thought about Stewed Rabbit and the time the dwarves invade Bilbo’s hole.]

  4. Imrahil says:

    I think two meals from one book would belong into such a list, viz.:

    i) A Long-Expected Party, in: The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien
    ii) Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit, in: The Lord of the Rings, by J. R. R. Tolkien

    with the Hobbits at Farmer Maggot’s, the Rivendell Feast*, and the Lothlórien parting feast as honorable mentions.

    (* If we can include the after-dinner artistic event, when they go to the hall and Bilbo sings Errantry, this, too, is more than an honorable mention.)

    I might also think of
    iii.) The Official Opening feast of “Robber’s Lair in the Forest Inn”, where Hotzenplotz makes Räuberschmaus for everyone and gives free beer and slivovitz to the grown-ups, and Kasperl and Seppel “ate as much as to get stomach ache and were so happy that they would not have swipped places with anyone in the world, not even with themselves”, at the closing of: Hotzenplotz 3, by Otfried Preußler.

    (Very fine book. Really very fine book. – Well, I spoilered already that the robber, who has been let out of prison, ends up as an innkeeper; after having a hard time saying sorry to his former victims and making them believe that he means seriously to settle as an honest man despite not knowing what to do for a job. “‘Of course, a robber’s life has its advantages. The forest air keeps you young and healthy, and as long as you don’t sit in the lockhole, you lead a wild, free life. But’ – ‘but?’ – ‘I am just sick of playing the bad guy all the time; all this waylaying of grandmothers, nicking of bicycles and always being on the alert against the police! That drains me of strength and is a strain on my nerves, and altogether: I’m just fed up with the whole robbery business!”)

  5. Discipula says:

    Minny’s fried chicken and chocolate pie in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.

  6. Skeinster says:

    Aw- you beat me to the Chrachit’s Christmas dinner!

    Thanksgiving Dinner in “Little Men” by Louisa May Alcott. It’s sweet because the children are so proud of their contributions to the meal.

    And though it’s not really literature, the popular 20th century Christian romance novelist, Grace Livingston Hill has wonderful meals in all her books. In “A Daily Rate”, the heroine’s aunt takes over the boarding house and serves the hitherto long-suffering lodgers roast beef with pan roasted potatoes, cream of spinach soup, spinach, hot rolls and an apple dumpling.

  7. Hesiodos says:

    The first river picnic with Rat and Mole in “The Wind in the Willows” by Kenneth Grahame

    “‘There’s cold chicken inside it,’ replied the Rat briefly; ‘coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrenchrollscresssandwichespottedmeatgingerbeerlemonadesodawater——’
    ‘O stop, stop,’ cried the Mole in ecstacies: ‘This is too much!’”

  8. capchoirgirl says:

    Almost the entirety of Farmer Boy is a wonderful meal. Seriously. No other book has the power to make me hungry like that book does.

  9. fishonthehill says:

    Green eggs and ham. Doctor Seuss

  10. Semper Gumby says:

    Which it’s lobscouse (salt beef hung on string over the side of the ship), skillygalee (crumbled hardtack and bacon grease), rats in onion sauce, and spotted dog (rice pudding with raisin) in the gunroom after the toasted cheese.

    A Patrick O’Brien cookbook to treasure even though its recipes are terrifying:


    Ah yes Mariana2 and Imrahil, the hobbits putting away chow like champions. So did the dwarves when they showed up at Bilbo’s with empty bellies and plundered his pantry. (That is why for unexpected guests I store barrels of hardtack and kegs of dehydrated water.)

    This book isn’t literature, but travel writing: Peter Mayle’s “A Year in Provence” is a fine tale of an old farmhouse, village markets, French cooking, and eccentric French peasants.

  11. jdt2 says:

    Awesome post, Father and suggestions from the readers.

    I’ll offer 3 wedding scenes:

    Wedding at Cana, Gospel of John

    Wedding of Camacho The Rich and Quiteria The Fair, Don Quixote

    (Red) Wedding, Storm of Swords….understanding that the guests may disagree.

  12. Ms. M-S says:

    Would the list be complete without the Jo’s spoiled meal (with the salted strawberries) in Little Women or the meal the waiter mostly did David out of in David Copperfield or the cake the Baker’s Daughter stole from the bakery window and brought to the birthday party?

  13. GM Thobe says:

    If by “great” one means powerful or memorable and not good (in any way) Harpagus comes immediately to mind. I would rather have the old lady who lives in a shoe as a cook than be at that meal.

  14. wolskerj says:

    What about the picnic-breakfast on the bastion of St. Gervais after the Three Musketeers (and d’Artagnan) made a wager with the Swiss that they could remain in place for at least one hour despite the enemy’s efforts to dislodge them?

    [I always enjoyed the galactically heroic quantities of food and wine they consumed, whole chickens, dozens of wine, at a sitting!]

  15. Charles E Flynn says:

    The risen Christ has a meal.

    From https://www.biblestudytools.com/rhe/passage/?q=luke+24:39;+luke+24:42-43
    Luke 24:42-43

    42 And they offered him a piece of a broiled fish and a honeycomb. 43 And when he had eaten before them, taking the remains, he gave to them.

  16. Andrew says:

    Satyricon: Trimalchio’s dinner party.

    [Good catch, from an ancient Roman “novel”!]

  17. Quanah says:

    Cheeseburger and chocolate milk for breakfast in All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy.

  18. fishonthehill says:

    I find this post and its comments to be more enjoyable than the indigestible words of the next post about the Pope and tradition. That one gave me AGIATA! This was a great diversion.

  19. bobbird says:

    Of Tolkein: did anyone mention “Second Breakfast”?

    And … starving Robert Rogers, of Rogers’ Rangers fame, in Kenneth Roberts immortal “Northwest Passage”: with three other scouts, returning from the raid on St. Francis in 1759, they cut up a ruffed grouse and ate it raw, intestines and all.

    And the unjustly maligned Captain Bligh, sailing 3400 miles in an open boat to Timor with his loyal non-mutineers. They knocked down a gull, gave the blood to a sick shipmate, then cut the bird up raw into equal pieces, as the captain proffered: “And who will have this?” til all were served.

    And Eddie Rickenbacker did something similar when adrift in a rubber boat in the South Pacific for 22 days.

    [Literature. The Bible is not fiction, but it is literature. Though I think literature was intended in the original.]

  20. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    The Red Wedding Reception, “The Storm of Swords”, George RR Martin.

  21. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    It’s from television, but the Dinner Scene in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Season 1 Episode 25 (Conspiracy) burnt itself into my young brain when it aired.

  22. Charivari Rob says:

    1. Any of a number of meals from The Hobbit. I’d probably go with that first tea.

    2. Any of a number of meals from A Christmas Carol

    3. Any of a number of meals from the Little House books, but I agree with capchoirgirl – Farmer Boy is best.

    4. The Last Supper is a supremely important meal. Sticking to non-sacramental, though… I think that an al fresco seaside breakfast of charcoal-cooked fish after a long night’s work, personally cooked for you by Jesus – is a winner.

    5. I had started reading the Spenser novels in sequence. I considered setting myself the mission of duplicating each recipe and drink he consumes, but fortunately realized it would only end with me being a client of the liver clinic and/or bypass clinic (and the doctors taking away my library

    6 As an inverse view… J.M. Coetzee’s Waiting For The Barbarians – when the Magistrate contemplates the prospect of ever being fat/sated again.

    …gotta think more on the rest.

  23. Kerry says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda, also from Next Generation, Riker on the Klingon ship.
    “Then you probably know what this is Commander.”
    “Isn’t that gaak?”
    “Very good commander!”
    “It’s still moving…”
    “Gaak is always best served live.”

  24. wolskerj says:

    I’m surprised no one’s mentioned the wonderful meals of Narnia, particularly Lucy’s tea with Tumnus – eggs, sardines on toast, buttered toast, toast with honey and sugar-topped cakes. Or the meal with the beavers – fresh-caught trout, boiled potatoes with a big lump of deep yellow butter “from which everyone took as much as he wanted,” and Mrs. Beaver’s marmalade roll. Or the breakfast the dwarves serve to Shasta (Prince Cor) when he first returns to Narnia – porridge and cream, eggs and bacon and mushrooms fried together in a pan, with coffee, hot milk, and toast.
    I sometime wonder if it was Lewis’s experience of the depression and wartime rationing that gave him such a deep appreciation of the comforts and pleasures of homely, well-cooked meals. He certainly seems to have enjoyed describing them in loving detail.

  25. gaudiumcumpace says:


  26. gaudiumcumpace says:

    Esau and Lentils:)

  27. Stephanus83 says:

    There is a wonderful blog at The Paris Review concerning food from literature. The author posts monthly. The posts recreate scenes of food from various novels and include recipes. Based on this post, I think a lot of readers will enjoy this blog:

  28. Johanna says:

    How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn is packed with mouthwatering food descriptions.

    Particularly Brandy Broth, which sounded so good that a few of my friends hunted up recipes and learned to make it after we read the book for book club. It is a complicated recipe, but worth the trouble.

    We had Brandy Broth for fat Tuesday this year, because it has literally All The Meats.

  29. FrankWalshingham says:

    “I remember the dinner well – soup of oseille, a sole… a caneton à la presse, a lemon soufflé… And for wine, a bottle of 1906 Montrachet, then at its prime, and, with the duck, Clos de Beze of 1904”.

    Charles Ryder in Brideshead Revisited, having dinner in Paris with the Canadian businessman, Rex Mottram who was out searching for Sebastian Flyte.

  30. Chuck4247 says:

    What about Thorin and Co.’s stay at Beorn’s? Surely that night’s feast belongs on this list.

  31. Mario Bird says:

    What? Thirty comments, and not even an honorable mention for Brian Jacques’ Redwall feasts?

Comments are closed.