Best of British: Five iconic food moments in literature

view gallery VIEW GALLERY


Britons love food almost as much as we love books. So when the two things are combined, the result is mouthwatering.

British authors know how to pen culinary delights. And while some of Britain’s literary greats bring food to life on their pages to get our taste buds tingling, others have equally repulsed through their gruesome narratives.

From writers of canonical prestige, to the classics of our childhood, appetizing and iconic literary food moments are at the forefront of many of our best books. Here is a selection of some of the tastiest:

Butterbeer in Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling is adroit in the art of delectable description, and with Hogwarts feasts, magical treats from Honeydukes sweet shop and home cooked meals in the Weasley household, it is hard to choose the most tempting.

Despite the vast gastronomic choice Rowling offers across her seven hefty novels, butterbeer has to come top of the menu. The author has been known to describe the taste as “a less sickly butterscotch”, which sounds like the perfect, warming beverage for an evening spent snuggled in The Three Broomsticks.

Miss Havisham’s wedding cake in Great Expectations

Food is not always used to delight us in our literature. And Charles Dickens provides us with a prime example of this in his novel, Great Expectations.

Left untouched in the decades since Miss Havisham was jilted at the altar decades before, the wedding cake is described as seeming to grow like a “black fungus” in the centre of a rotting feast, with spiders and mice scuttling to it’s indistinguishable form.

As metaphors go, Dickens’ wedding cake is up there with the best as a symbol of the decay that lies within one of his most intriguing characters.


Turkish Delight in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

When Edmund, the black sheep of the Pevensie siblings from C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, finds himself lost in an unfamiliar snowy land he is comforted by the White Witch who feeds him Turkish Delight.

She conjures the sweet meats from the air and interrogates him, fearing her throne will be seized by the "two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve" that make up the Pevensie children.

Tucking in enthusiastically, and finishing the entire box, a sticky-faced Edmund casually betrays his brother and sisters as he chomps away.


Wonka’s chocolate room in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Roald Dahl is as masterful a practitioner when it comes to describing mouthwatering as he is when portraying the squirm-inducingly disgusting.

The most delectable moment in Dahl’s impressive portfolio is Willy Wonka’s chocolate room. Everything inside it is edible, and it is the only factory in the world where chocolate is mixed by waterfall. It’s the stuff of dreams for both children and grownups alike, and offers a piece of “pure imagination” for lovers of food and fiction.


Bilbo feeds the dwarves in The Hobbit

J.R.R. Tolkien's precursor to Lord of the Rings has plenty of food descriptions. The novel’s protagonist Bilbo is often preoccupied with the subject.

So when his hobbit house is overrun by a troop of unwelcome and uninvited dwarves, his consternation at the sight of an empty larder is pronounced.

Once he has fed them they set off in pursuit of slaying the dragon Smaug and fending off all sorts of danger in the process - so you'd better hope they enjoyed their last meal before the unexpected journey.


Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing