Turkish Delight is THE most iconic dessert, and most iconic food, of all the books in the Chronicles of Narnia, and I’ll put it up there with Lembas as the most iconic fantasy food, period. In fact, most people today would have never heard of it if not for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It would have been relegated to the island of Lost Desserts, like Lady Baltimore Cake and syllabub.
In the book it works as a symbol of temptation, addicting Edward, warping his judgment, and binding him to the witch. And so from how it’s presented most readers would think it’s something super special. But the sad news is, it isn’t. Basically, it’s a semisolid gel, cut into small squares, made from a syrup of starch and sugar, and flavored with various foods of the East: rosewater, bergamot orange, pistachio, dates, walnuts, hazelnuts. The squares, when solid enough to be cut, are dusted with powdered sugar or the like to prevent clinging to each other. Not very appetizing to me. Liberty Orchards of Cashmere, Washington used a similar recipe to create their version, which is widely sold to tourists visiting Washington state. It’s OK, but not worth selling your soul to a witch for.
So, why did Lewis choose this, and not, say, strawberry shortcake or chocolate pudding? It could have been something he enjoyed in his younger days, and in post-WWII Britain, when the book was written, it likely wasn’t available because of the austerity rations which lasted until 1958. In my opinion, though, it just sounded exotic — exotic and old-fashioned enough for an inhumanly beautifully White Witch. In other words, an indulgence in Orientalism, which Lewis returned to later with the introduction of the nation of Calormen.
There are other sweets and desserts mentioned in the books, but all are resoundingly British. There are no candy bars, no cookies or eclairs or strudels. There are fruits endemic to Western Europe (no pineapple or mango), dried dates and figs, marmalades, a sugar-cake, puddings, pies, ice cream, fools, ices, and jellies. Some scholars think this is Lewis’s longing for the lost sweets of his youth: “I myself like eating and drinking, I put in what I would have liked to read when I was a child and what I still like reading now that I am in my fifties.”
Since the movies came out there’s been an explosion of fan-created recipes, as well as recipe books both official and unofficial.
What desserts might have been served in Narnia by the Narnians themselves, AND be something C. S. Lewis would liked to have eaten? Here’s a randomgenned list.
|Archenlandean berry biscuits
Caspian’s malted syrup
Coronation cocoa rolls
Dryads’ Cake covered with flower petals from Aslan’s Country
Father Christmas’s nutmeg breakfast rolls
Flaming Phoenix jellies
Goat milk sherbert from Tehishbaan
Jewel the Unicorn’s biscuits drizzled in diamond-juice glaze from Bism
King Edmund’s crunchy wafers
Maenad spongecake, served with a sweet wine of Archenland
Milk pudding from Glenstorm the Centaur
Mrs. Beaver’s spiced lemon curd tartlet
Narnian buttermilk bread served with barley sugar ice cream
Queen Helen’s apple and clotted cream biscuits
Queen Susan’s butterhorns
Seafarer’s treacle from The Dawn Treader
Sorloisian camel bread
Strawberry and gooseberry whip from Ramandu’s Island
Tapioca of the Stars’ Great Dance
Telmarine whiskey pudding
Terabinthian spice cake
The White Witch’s scarlet ice
Toffee-fruit bars served at Queen Lucy’s birthday
Tournament buns from Galma
Tumnus’ sweet rum butter shortbread
Winter white chocolate layer cake
Witch Country guardian apple dumplings
Wizard’s ripple ice with plumberries