Enid Blyton Loves to Eat: A New Appreciation of My Favorite Childhood Books

| 4/23/2011 7:51:26 AM

Tags: Enid Blyton, The Famous Five, food in novels, middle grade adventure stories, farm food, slow food, buying food from farms, S.M.R. Saia,

A photo of Shannon SaiaFirst off let me say that I know nothing about English author Enid Blyton’s personal life. It may be that she didn’t have a hearty appetite at all. I have never read a biography of the woman or combed the web for fascinating facts about her. My information comes entirely from the first-hand reading of primary texts. My conclusions about her are entirely my own, and one of them is this: Enid Blyton had a real appreciation for good, farm-grown food, and anyone that took so much care to write about every meal that her characters had, must have loved to eat.

The food in Blyton’s Famous Five books isn’t fancy. It’s just good, plain food that’s travelled a very short distance – from the hands of the farmer’s wife to the stomachs of four hungry kids. Lest you think that this means interminable passages along the lines of the excruciatingly long and boring dinner scene in the movie The Age of Innocence – it doesn’t. It’s more like this:

Nothing could be nicer than icy-cold, creamy farm milk from the dairy on a hot day like this. They all sat down to tea, and the four visitors wished they had not had such a big lunch! A large ham sat on the table, and there were crusty loaves of new bread. Crisp lettuces, dewy and cool, and red radishes were side by side in a big glass dish. On the sideboard was an enormous cake, and beside it a dish of scones. Great slabs of butter and jugs of creamy milk were there, too, with honey and home-made jam.

And this:

They all sat down to dinner. There was a big meat-pie, a cold ham, salad, potatoes in their jackets, and homemade pickles. It really was difficult to know what to choose. “Have some of both,” said Mrs. Andrews, cutting the meat-pie. “Begin with the pie and go on with the ham. That's the best of living on a farm, you know - you do get plenty to eat.” After the first course there were plums and thick cream, or jam tarts and the same cream.

It’s just enough to leave you thinking – geez. That sounds really good.

By now, perhaps, you are asking, Enid Blyton? Never heard of her. Who is this woman who writes so beguilingly about food?

I didn’t want to do it, but having aroused you to the point of feeling like you need a snack, I suppose I owe you a couple of facts, and for that, I will have to do some research.

5/7/2011 6:21:04 AM

hi,i grew up in india reading Enid Blyton everyday. We formed groups and called ourselves the Famous Five! And Yes! my mouth watered reading of the goodies these hungry brats were getting to it. some bakeries in india, thanks to the earlier presence of England in our historical past sold hot buns and home made jam and pies and thick cream.now decades later the runny butter and the thick cream scare me away but definitely the smell of freshly baked bread and scones still linger in my olfactory memory!thanks for bringing it up it is interesting that food played such an important role.

k.c. compton
5/4/2011 9:50:02 AM

Hi Shannon -- I've never encountered Enid Blyton, but I did love the descriptions of these meals. I just love feeding people, so they resonated for me from that angle -- how fun it would be to set such a table, and for a group of hungry children no less. Thanks for a delightful post. --KC

s.m.r. saia
4/29/2011 7:15:40 AM

Thanks Cindy! That's how it always makes me feel too!

cindy murphy
4/27/2011 10:37:40 AM

Your title captured my interest too, Shannon. Not because I'm a fellow fan of Enid Blyton; I've never heard of her, in fact. And while she might love to eat (even though I've never heard of her, we are kindred souls in that respect), I love to read about eating. The passages you quoted of those wonderful feasts were mouth-watering. Hhmmm...I just might have to go rummage through the refrigerator now.

s.m.r. saia
4/26/2011 8:00:42 AM

MoutainWoman, I'm so glad you liked the post, and to know of a fellow fan of Enid Blyton! N. Dave, I, too, love the smell of old books. A little bit vanilla, a little bit custard, a little bit dust - it's the smell of time to me. Thanks both of you for stopping by!

mountain woman
4/26/2011 6:50:43 AM

Shannon, your title captivated me immediately. Enid Blyton kept me company throughout my childhood and her books loving sit on my shelf today. I've taken to rereading these classic books and as you do I find myself inspired by them. I so enjoyed your summaries and thoughts and here's to one of our favorite authors! May many future generations discover her original writings.

nebraska dave
4/25/2011 7:53:29 PM

Shannon, reading books was a great pass time during my youth as well. My memories of books read was the Poppy Ott detective series written by Leo Edwards. Then there was my favorite of all times the Hardy boys written by Franklin W. Dixon. I was introduced to reading the Hardy boys during my third and fourth grade while attending a one room country school in rural Nebraska. The teacher would read books to us during our lunch time. The Poppy Ott series I found at the tiny library in the small town near where we lived. I drove through that town a couple years ago and the library was gone. The building was even gone. There was nothing but a parking lot there. It was a sad moment for me to think about all the good memories that will never be enjoyed by the next generation. I am not sure that I am ready for the Kindle age of digital reading. I can remember the smell of that old library. It was just had a good book smell that a Kindle will never have. Even the book libraries of today just don't have the smell and feel of the old small town libraries. As you can tell I love libraries. Everywhere I go eventually I will end up in a library if I'm there long enough. Have a great day of book reading.

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