Three of the most influential fictional worlds that had the most impact on my childhood imagination were (in no particular order): The Wizard Of Oz, E.T. The Extra Terrestrial, and Alice In Wonderland. Each one, in their own unique way, helped shape my perception of the world around me, and more importantly — where my dreams tended to travel when I closed my eyes each night. So imagine my level of intrigue and curiosity when earlier this morning I discovered there is an extremely rare cookbook in existence which is completely inspired by Alice In Wonderland. Written by John Fisher, the cookbook was inspired by the multitude of references to food and to eating found in Lewis Carroll‘s famous classics, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. One thinks immediately of such delicacies as the “Drink Me” bottle and the “Eat Me” cake, and of course the Queen of Hearts’ famous jam tarts. Fisher has prepared a set of recipes to delight the palate of any Lewis Carroll fan, and each is accompanied by an appropriate extract from Alice’s adventures as well as Tenniel’s evocative illustrations. The following are three examples of recipes found in the book:
LOOKING GLASS CAKE: 1 pound flour | ½ pound butter | 4 ounces currants | 4 ounces mixed peel | 3 ounces raisins | ½ pound castor sugar | 2 teaspoons baking powder | 3 eggs | 1 teaspoon mixed spice | milk. INSTRUCTIONS: 1) Cream butter and sugar until fluffy. 2) Beat eggs and whisk gradually into the creamed mixture. 3) Sift flour and baking powder and fold into the mixture by degrees. 4) Finally mix in fruit and spice. 5) The mixture should now be of such a consistency that it will drop easily from the spoon. Add milk only if necessary. 6) Turn into a cake tin approximately 7 ½ inches in diameter lined with greaseproof paper. 7) Bake for 2-3 hours in a slow oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit, Gas Mark 2. 8) Test with a skewer to see if cooked. Insert it in the centre. If it comes out clean, the cake is ready to be placed on a wire rack to cool. 9) Cut it first and hand round afterwards.
FLOWER SALAD: acacia flowers | marrow flowers | rosemary flowers | borage flowers | cowslip flowers | elderflowers | marigold petals | nasturtium petals and trumpets | green salad | olive oil | vinegar. INSTRUCTIONS: 1) All the flowers listed were once commonly accepted for culinary purposes. 2) Scald the petals with hot water. 3) Leave to cool. 4) Arrange a bed of green salad including lettuce, parsley, thyme, chives, sorrel leaves, sliced raw cabbage or spinach, according to availability. 5) Add the flowers to the centre. 6)Serve with oil and vinegar dressing, proof that some flowers, at least do have the edible qualities of the other flour.
A TOAST TO ALICE: 1 flagon cider | 8 lumps sugar | 2 oranges | 8 cloves | 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg | 1 cinnamon stick | 8 teaspoons water | 1 lemon | 1 sherry glass of rum | 1 sherry glass of brandy. INSTRUCTIONS: 1) Rub the sugar against the rind of one of the oranges to remove zest. 2) Cut the orange in half, and squeeze out juice into a saucepan. 3) Cut the orange into 8 segments. 4) Stick a clove in each and sprinkle with nutmeg. 5) Add to the pan with the water and cinnamon. 6) Cut lemon rind into strips and add this also. 7) Heat over a gentle flame until sugar dissolves. 8) Simmer for 5 minutes. 9) Take away from heat to cool. 10) Remove cinnamon stick. 11) Add cider and reheat. 12) Add rum and brandy. 13) Serve hot in a heated punch bowl. 14) “And welcome Queen Alice with ninety-times-nine!”
You can learn much more about the book, which includes recipes for “Ambidextrous Mushrooms” to “Bread-and-Butter-Fly Pudding” (just to name two more) by visiting BrainPickings.org. It’s here where you’ll also enjoy an excerpt from Lewis Caroll himself who provides his tips on etiquette in a piece entitled Hints for Etiquette: Or, Dining Out Made Easy.