Literary Food Moments in Young Adult Books Slideshow
It is nearly impossible to forget that Hermione, Ron, and Harry Potter are British once you pay attention to all of the cuisine featured at Hogwarts pork chops, Shepherd's pie, Cornish pasties, steak and kidney pudding, mashed potatoes, chips, Yorkshire pudding, spotted dick, porridge, trifle, etc.
But don’t get caught up in all of that heavy, British cuisine. There are plenty of foods eaten in Harry Potter that don’t even exist in the British muggle world. The lunch trolley on the Hogwarts Express offers Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, Drooble’s Best Blowing Gum, Liquorice Wands, Jelly Slugs, and Chocolate Frogs. Meanwhile, students can sip on some Butterbeer at Hogsmeade.
Not everyone can enjoy the magical foods found at Hogwarts. Moaning Myrtle, Nearly Headless Nick, and the other ghosts can only eat foods that have started to decompose. In Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Nearly Headless Nick serves burnt cakes, rotten fish, moldy cheese, and cake with gray icing at his 500th Deathday Party. As this feast makes us somewhat queasy, it reminds us that these ghosts are definitely dead.
While Hagrid may be a friend to Ron, Hermione, and Harry, his living arrangements suggest that he doesn’t have very many other friends. Since he lives all alone on the edge of Hogwarts, the half-giant hasn’t really honed his culinary skills. His reputation for being a notoriously bad chef makes sense, considering that Hagrid doesn’t exactly cook for many people on a day-to-day basis.
Molly Weasley, on the other hand, has many mouths to feed. As mother and a wife, she is constantly surrounded by hungry people. She opens up her home to Harry, and the Burrow functions as a safe haven for the wizard. Mrs. Weasley always makes sure that there is a spread of delicious food available for her family and all of her guests, which hints at the warmth of her character. To prepare these meals, Mrs. Weasley uses a combination of magic and cooking skill.
The Hardy brothers’ friend has a weak spot for food, that’s for sure. His love for food is often mocked throughout the series, as he is referred to as chubby, and called a "big boy." In The Secret of the Lost Tunnel, Chet was late because he had to stop off for a triple-decker sandwich. In Dungeon of Doom, Chet stopped by a police station with his arms full of food raided from the vending machines. His love of food somehow explains his reluctance to join the boys in their detective work.
Aunt Gertrude cares for her nephews in a maternal way as she worries about, disapproves of, encourages, and feeds the boys. Her residency varies depending on the different installments; sometimes she lives in the Hardy household, and other times she lives on her own. However, one thing remains the same throughout the series: She is a wiz in the kitchen, and her roast beef dinners and homemade apple pies adequately express her maternal care.
The Princess of Genovia avoids meat at all costs, opting to nibble on Tofurky burgers and falafel during lunch. Her strong loyalty to vegetarianism doesn’t fade throughout the entire series, and comes to define Mia as a character. However, the princess threatens to abandon her vegetarian principles, after hearing the news that her boyfriend was moving to Japan — she joked, "If ever there’d been a day I could have used some spicy beef, it seemed like today."
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The Princess Diaries series is actually a collection of Mia’s personal journals, so it makes sense that Mia’s determined to get her writings published. One of the first short stories she sends in to a magazine, Sixteen, is set in the cafeteria and focuses on one of the loners who picks the corn out of his chili. Called "No More Corn!," Mia’s story was inspired by watching "the Guy Who Hates IT When They Put Corn in His Chilisitting in the cafeteria picking corn out of his chili, kernel by kernel, with the saddest look I have ever seen on a human being’s face."
As Bella chops and dices chicken in the kitchen, she proves that she has some culinary skills. Eventually, her father begins trusting her abilities in the kitchen, even when he walks into the house one day and smells green peppers — a surefire sign that she is whipping up some Mexican food for him. He may have seemed suspicious, but Bella understood that was because "the closest edible Mexican food was probably in Southern California." She even equated his willingness to try the dish to the braveness required to do his police duties. After Charlie comes home from a fishing excursion, Bella makes a mental note to pick up a cookbook filled with seafood recipes.
Edward’s insistence that Bella eat something seems a bit ironic, considering the vampires’ nonexistent appetite for food. She keeps reminding him that she’s not hungry, but he winds up taking her to a restaurant, where she orders the mushroom ravioli, and he orders… nothing.
Every summer, Lena, Bridget, Tibby, and Carmen, who have been friends since their mothers attended classes during their pregnancies, sneak into the studio where their mothers met to hang out. However, the night isn’t complete without snack foods. Fortunately Tibby was on the job, bringing along "raw cookie dough from a refrigerated tube, strawberry Pop-Tars with pink icing, hard, deformed cheese puffs, sour Gummi Worms, and a few bottles of Odwalla" to share with everyone.
Lena spends her summer with her grandparents in Greece. Fortunately for Lena (and her appetite), her grandparents used to own their own restaurant, which means that Lena and her sister are surrounded by an abundance of food from the moment they get off the plane. Grandma and Bapi celebrated their grandchildren’s arrival by inviting a bunch of neighbors over to feast on keftedes, stuffed grapes, and other Greek specialties. As Lena’s younger sister develops her culinary skills, Lena points out that "Effie is a Kaligaris. She likes to cook and she likes to eat!" We are reminded once again of Lena’s heritage, the reason why she is in Greece in the first place.
Talk about a stressful family dinner. Carmen plans to spend the summer with her father, until she discovers that he is engaged to a woman who has two daughters of her own. As soon as Carmen receives this information, the family has to sit down for dinner. The tenseness of the situation draws attention away from the elaborately set table of white covered dishes filled with lamb chops, sautéed zucchini, and warm bread.
Hungry? You’ll be sure to find some snacks in Claudia Kishi’s bedroom. The Vice President of the Baby-Sitter’s Club is addicted to junk food, and hides the unhealthy treats from her disapproving parents. She even acquires a hollow book to hide the unhealthy treats in. When the meetings are held in Claudia’s bedroom, she provides everyone with snacks.
Wealth is mostly concentrated in the hands of those residing in the Capitol. While the wealthy can afford to eat luxurious, satiating foods, the poor are fighting to survive. The residents of the Capitol are definitive consumers; any kind of food is available to them with the simple press of a button. Food symbolizes wealth, plenty, and comfort, a convenience that the wealthy take for granted.
Have you ever noticed that Peeta sounds like pita? That’s because he is the son of a baker. However, Peeta’s kindness inhibits his baking abilities. Once, he purposefully burnt two loaves of bread in order for his father to throw them out, so that Peeta could give them to Katniss, who had been struggling with starvation.
Meanwhile, the residents of District 12 are fighting for scraps, and Katniss cannot understand the constant availability of food in the Capitol. Food is scarce in the poorer districts, and starvation is always a serious threat. Her entire existence revolves around gathering food for her family to eat. She wonders, "What must it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where food appears at the press of a button? How would I spend the hours I now commit to combing the woods for sustenance if it were so easy to come by?" The absence of food from the other districts only further emphasizes the inequality between the rich and the poor.