Fantastic Feasts and Where to Eat Them
It's November, which we all know means we have entered the best season of the year. We don't mean the winter season, or the holiday season, or a season of peace and goodwill to our fellow humans, although we guess those are great too.
No, we mean the season of food.
Between Thanksgiving and New Year's and winter holidays and all the family gatherings those are sure to entail, the next two months give us ample opportunity for shoving our faces full of every delicious delicacy we can find. In honor of this season of culinary splendor, below are some of the greatest feasts to ever take place in fiction.
Aslan's Table, Narnia
There were turkeys and geese and peacocks, there were boars' heads and sides of venison, there were pies shaped like ships under full sail or like dragons and elephants, there were ice puddings and bright lobsters and gleaming salmon, there were nuts and grapes, pineapples and peaches, pomegranates and melons and tomatoes. There were flagons of gold and silver and curiously-wrought glass; and the smell of the fruit and the wine blew toward them like a promise of all happiness.
– The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis
Bring your elastic-waist pants because the food at Aslan's Table is beautiful, never spoils, and literally smells like happiness. It's like an all-you-can-eat buffet, except instead of sad trays of rubbery chicken, you get pies shaped like dragons. As an added bonus, while it would probably be a poor life choice to attempt to move into your local Sizzler, you will never get kicked out of Aslan's Table. Assuming there is WiFi there, we see no reason why you should ever have to leave.
The Home of Bilbo Baggins, The Shire
“Now we are all here!” said Gandalf, looking at the row of thirteen hoods – the best detachable party hoods – and his own hat hanging on the pegs. “Quite a merry gathering! I hope there is something left for the late-comers to eat and drink! What's that? Tea! No thank you! A little red wine, I think for me.”
“And for me,” said Thorin.
“And raspberry jam and apple-tart,” said Bifur.
“And mince-pies and cheese,” said Bofur.
“And pork-pie and salad,” said Bombur.
“And more cakes – and ale – and coffee, if you don't mind,” called the other dwarves through the door.
“Put on a few eggs, there's a good fellow!” Gandalf called after him, as the hobbit stumped off to the pantries. “And just bring out the cold chicken and pickles!”
“Seems to know as much about the inside of my larders as I do myself!” thought Mr. Baggins, who was feeling positively flummoxed, and was beginning to wonder whether a most wretched adventure had not come right into his house.
–The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
The trick about feasting at the home of Bilbo Baggins is that you cannot let your host know you are coming. Instead, just show up at his front door unannounced and raid his pantry, whose contents you will have inexplicably memorized at some earlier point in time.
Optional: bringing your thirteen best friends, breaking all the tableware.
The Great Ballroom, Buckingham Palace
The BFG sat down on the chest-of-drawers-piano and gazed in wonder around the Great Ballroom. ‘By gumdrops!’ he cried. ‘What a spliffling whoppsy room we is in! It is so gigantuous I is needing bicirculers and telescoops to see what is going on at the other end!’
Footmen arrived carrying silver trays with fried eggs, bacon, sausages and fried potatoes. At this point, Mr Tibbs suddenly realized that in order to serve the BFG at his twelve-foot-high grandfather-clock table, he would have to climb to the top of one of the tall step-ladders. What’s more, he must do it balancing a huge warm plate on the palm of one hand and holding a gigantic silver coffee-pot in the other. A normal man would have flinched at the thought of it. But good butlers never flinch. Up he went, up and up and up, while the Queen and Sophie watched him with great interest. It is possible they were both secretly hoping he would lose his balance and go crashing to the floor. But good butlers never crash.
At the top of the ladder, Mr Tibbs, balancing like an acrobat, poured the BFG’s coffee and placed the enormous plate before him. On the plate there were eight eggs, twelve sausages, sixteen rashers of bacon and a heap of fried potatoes.
– The BFG by Roald Dahl
Anyone who can wrangle an invite to breakfast with the Queen should wrangle an invite to breakfast with the queen, because breakfast with the queen gets you a heap of fried potatoes served atop a grand piano. Plus Mr. Tibbs sounds like he'd be many steps above (literally, if you happen to be a giant) your average IHOP waiter.
The Home of the Cratchits, Christmas Morning
“Do you know the Poulterer’s, in the next street but one, at the corner?” Scrooge inquired.
“I should hope I did,” replied the lad.
“An intelligent boy!” said Scrooge. “A remarkable boy! Do you know whether they’ve sold the prize Turkey that was hanging up there?—Not the little prize Turkey: the big one?”
“What, the one as big as me?” returned the boy.
“What a delightful boy!” said Scrooge. “It’s a pleasure to talk to him. Yes, my buck!”
“It’s hanging there now,” replied the boy.
“Is it?” said Scrooge. “Go and buy it.”
“Walk-er!” exclaimed the boy.
“No, no,” said Scrooge, “I am in earnest. Go and buy it, and tell ’em to bring it here, that I may give them the direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and I’ll give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than five minutes and I’ll give you half-a-crown!”
The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast.
“I’ll send it to Bob Cratchit’s!” whispered Scrooge, rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. “He sha’n’t know who sends it. It’s twice the size of Tiny Tim. Joe Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob’s will be!”
-A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
The good news about being verbally abused, underpaid, and generally treated like garbage throughout your entire professional life is that when your boss spends the night before Christmas hallucinating about what a terrible person he is, he'll buy you an enormous Christmas turkey.
…Okay, maybe that doesn't really balance it out. But c'mon, it's a really really big turkey. You'll have leftovers until February.
The Great Hall, Hogwarts
Harry's mouth fell open. The dishes in front of him were now piled with food. He had never seen so many things he liked to eat on one table: roast beef, roast chicken, pork chops and lamb chops, sausages, bacon and steak, boiled potatoes, roast potatoes, fries, Yorkshire pudding, peas, carrots, gravy, ketchup, and, for some strange reason, peppermint humbugs.
– Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Downsides to attending school at Hogwarts: revolving door of Defense Against the Dark Arts teachers, frequent attacks and infiltration by Death Eaters, rampant bullying and favoritism by both students and teachers, questionable labor practices.
Upsides: all your favorite foods. All of them. For every meal.
Oh, and something about magic. But mainly the food.
The Chocolate Room, Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory
“The waterfall is most important!” Mr. Wonka went on. “It mixes the chocolate! It churns it up! It pounds it and beats it! It makes it light and frothy! No other factory in the world mixes its chocolate by waterfall! But it's the only way to do it properly! The only way! And do you like my trees?” he cried, pointing with his stick. “And my lovely bushes? Don't you think they look pretty? I told you I hated ugliness! And of course they are all eatable! All made of something different and delicious! And do you like my meadows? Do you like my grass and my buttercups? The grass you are standing on, my dear little ones, is made of a new kind of soft, minty sugar that I've just invented! I call it swudge! Try a blade! Please do! It's delectable!”
–Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
A feast made up entirely of candy is still a feast, right? Sure, the Wonka Factory is basically one giant deathtrap, but only if you completely shirk every rule you are given. Don't swim in the chocolate river. Don't eat or touch things you aren't supposed to. Don't go gallivanting off on your own after you've been specifically told to stay in one place. And really, why would you do any of those things when you are standing in a room made of chocolate? There is really no reason to ever go anywhere else once you've found the room made of chocolate.
Lauren is a writer of YA speculative fiction and a dedicated eater of queso. She lives in Middle Tennessee with her husband, two daughters, and a half-blind dog. When she’s not busy with her family, binge-watching TV shows, or writing books about dragons or superheroes, she can probably be found on Twitter, or in close proximity to coffee, tacos, or a bookstore.