Worldbuilding Wednesday 7/6/22: Narnian Desserts (Narnia XXXV)

Turkish Delight, as it might have been presented by The White Witch

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.


Narnian Desserts

Archenlandean berry biscuits

Caspian’s malted syrup

Chivalry pudding

Coronation cocoa rolls

Dryads’ Cake covered with flower petals from Aslan’s Country

Dufflepud shortbread

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

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