In my Ghosts of Ordinary Objects’ series, food plays an important role. Bone (the main character) is growing up in a relatively poor part of the world (Appalachia) that’s now experiencing war rationing. Yet, her childhood is filled with food: from sweet tea to ham biscuits to collard greens to preacher cookies. Appalachian and most of Southern cuisine, and in fact most cuisines worldwide, grows out of necessity: poor people making the most out of the ingredients they have around them. Food tells you so much about the culture and their part of the world. (See below for a preacher cookie recipe!)
So, needless to say, food is—or should be—a key part of world building in fantasy fiction—including spooky stories. Think about the food of Harry Potter’s world. Butterbeer. Chocolate Frogs. Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans. Maggoty Haggis at Nearly Headless Nick’s Death Party. Mrs. Weasley’s corned beef sandwiches. Cauldron cakes. I could go on and on. (In fact, if you play Harry Potter’s Wizards Unite, you can get some of these when you visit inns.) J.K. Rowling understands that part of the joy of being immersed in the wizarding world is yearning for a butterbeer or a trip to Honeydukes.
A few other middle grade and/or fantasy books have food that sticks with you. The Turkish delight from the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe comes to mind.
What are some of your favorite fantasy foods—from middle grade or other fantasy/spooky books? Any recipes you’ve tried? Please share below.
BTW, I highly recommend the Geeky Chef (www.geekychef.com) for fantasy food recipes!
Preacher Cookie recipe
Preacher Cookies are so-named because they were something you could whip up really quickly when your minister dropped by for a visit!
½ cup butter
4 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
½ cup milk
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 cups of quick cooking oatmeal (not instant, though!)
½ cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- Mix the butter, cocoa, sugar, milk, and salt together in a saucepan.
- Boil the mixture for one minute. You just need to melt everything together. Remove from the heat.
- Stir in oatmeal, peanut butter, and vanilla.
- Drop dollops of the mixture (about a tablespoon each) on waxed paper.
- Let cool – and eat!
Angie Smibert is the author of the middle grade historical fantasy series, Ghosts of Ordinary Objects, which includes Bone’s Gift (2018), Lingering Echoes (2019), and The Truce (2020). She’s also written three young adult science fiction novels: Memento Nora, The Forgetting Curve, and The Meme Plague. In addition to numerous short stories, she’s published over two dozen science/technology books for kids. Smibert teaches young adult and speculative fiction for Southern New Hampshire University’s creative writing M.F.A. program as well as professional writing for Indiana University East. Before doing all this, she was a science writer and web developer at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. She lives in Roanoke with a goofy dog (named after a telescope) and two bickering cats (named after Tennessee Williams characters), and puts her vast store of useless knowledge to work at the weekly pub quiz. Find her online at: http://www.angiesmibert.com/blog/