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A Walk Down Scrumdiddlyumptious Lane!

book experiences Shakti

Bookworms and Jellybellies by Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam is a collection of recipes inspired from our favourite children's books. Read on for a personal essay by Shakti, on her experience of whipping up some of the recipes in the book with her daughter.

Step in for some time travel. You cross the portal into a windy, beautiful island. It's Kirrin Island from The Famous Five! Julian, Dick, George, and Anne clamber up the rocks looking at the sea as Timmy prances behind. What do the famous five do next? Stumble on their next mystery? Discover a chest of treasure? If your answer was to lay out the picnic basket and start feasting on food, you are a true bibliophile!

A wise person once said food tastes best on someone else’s plate. I think food tastes yummiest when described in books. Many children's books make us crave food, by design or otherwise. Stories are the inspiration for many of our childhood games such as tea parties with dolls, and midnight feasts (food definitely tastes best when eaten in stealth!). Haven't we all dreamt of the mouth-watering chocolate river from Charlie and Chocolate Factory or wished to sample the meatballs from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs? I have often caught myself wanting to put my feet up and slurp on a glass of cold Butterbeer at the end of a tiring day. And I must admit, even the porridge from Goldilocks looks yummy.

If you grew up on a staple diet of Enid Blyton and the above passages made your stomach groan in hunger, you are not alone. Ranjini Rao and Ruchira Ramanujam, confessed bookworms and lovers of food from children's books, decided to pay heed to their hunger pangs. They scrambled together a collection of recipes of famous food from children’s books and published them as a book, Bookworms and Jellibellies. This walk down food memory lane is a meticulous recreation and homage to all the food we grew up listening to and craved for. There are recipes from Winnie-The-Pooh, Peter Rabbit, Masha and the Bear, cheese fondue from Asterix, peanut pops from Malgudi Tales and burgers from The Diary of the Wimpy Kid, among others.

Curious and pinched by temptation, Maya – my 7-year-old daughter and fellow bibliophile – decided to whip up a meal from Bookworms and Jellibellies. What follows an account of our delicious journey to experience the books and stories we love through food! 

The first recipe we attempted was a recreation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, every baby’s favourite. In the story, a slithery, green baby caterpillar eats a LOT of food and becomes a beautiful butterfly. What if we made the caterpillar into food? Sounds morbid, for sure. He is still cute though, wouldn’t you agree?

The next recipe on our list was the soup from the eponymous Stone Soup, a popular European folktale. This is a simple recipe and feels good for the soul. To be consumed in copious amounts especially during don’t-ever-want-to-get-out-of-bed Bangalore weather.

Maya is into Enid Blyton mysteries now and despite not being fond of desserts she insisted we make the infamous scones from The Famous Five. Contrary to the image that scones may have (desserts eaten by the prim, proper, and stiff-upper-lip), the recipe was easy to follow and incredibly satisfying for our stomachs. Make sure you have clotted cream and strawberry jam to seal the look, feel and taste.

The Apple-Cinnamon-Bread-Pudding is warm, comforting and to be eaten like a king, sitting atop a throne from The Chronicles of Narnia. This one was for me, to satiate my sugar craving buds, and feel like the boss of everyone, albeit briefly. It’s a surprisingly fuss-free recipe and very satisfying. Best eaten when microwaved for 8 seconds and with dollops of vanilla ice cream.

Bookworms and Jellibellies is a creative and wondrous way to not only relive childhood memories but also spend time making new ones. The smell of scones being baked or seeing the bread pudding rise through the window of the oven is a joy. The Famous Five definitely agree!



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