I hope everyone is enjoying this lovely little fantasy novel. If you are having trouble locating a copy to buy, I can try to help you out (I’m a used bookseller by day, Crispy Cook off-hours) so feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below. Otherwise, most librarians ought to be able to hunt up a copy of this juvenile fantasy classic through an interlibrary loan.
If you have read the book already, read on, but for others, BEWARE: plot spoilers and book discussion lurk ahead:
J.K. Rowling has noted that this book was one of her childhood favorites, and one can certainly see where the Harry Potter author got inspiration for some of her magical descriptions and mouthwatering images of Wizard food. Goudge conjured up the character of Marmaduke Scarlet, a tiny, temperamental kitchen artist with a “ham frill” of snowy white whiskers and pointy ears, who produces majestic veal pies, picnic hampers overflowing with iced fairy cakes, jam sandwiches, and cream horns, and other hearty spreads for our heroine, Maria, her governess Miss Heliotrope, her cousin/guardian Sir Benjamin and of course, Zachariah the Cat and Wrolf the Dog. There are so many delightful scenes of feasting, fireside dinners and teatimes that I am sure everyone will easily find something wonderful to create in their own castle kitchens.
I was not familiar with some of the British food terms in the book and enjoyed learning about parkin (a kind of gingerbread), fairy cakes (small cupcakes with decorations), rock cakes (bite-sized cakes studded with currants or other dried fruit) and syllabub (a rich and frothy eggnog-like punch).
Remember, to participate in this round of Cook the Books, all you need to do is read the book, cook up something inspired by your reading and blog about it. Be sure to let me know when your post is up by sending me an email at oldsaratogabooks AT gmail DOT com by the deadline of Friday, June 26, 2009, so I can include you in the roundup.
So what did you think of this book?
Rachel, the Crispy Cook and host of this round of Cook the Books