An Unexpected Party

by regressada

Did ya’ll see how the apple gruyere pie turned out? Our Pushing Daisies evening was glorious, and the pie was probably one of the best I’ve ever made. I think it’s partly because I paid special attention to the crust…I used a few new techniques and focused on getting the details right. That goes against my nature because I’m in the “cooking is art” camp, as opposed to “cooking is science” camp…although, honestly one can’t exist without the other anyway.  (To illustrate: I’m better at soups and pies than I am…bread, for instance. I’m awful at bread. So many temperatures and exact measurements and patience involved!)

Well, Emily is one of the “cooking is science” campers; but she wins in the art category too.  She bakes. She made my wedding cake. And she hosted the most inspiring Hobbit Party (to celebrate the new movie!) two days before my wedding.

Did I seriously drop my schedule-full of pre-wedding planning two days before my own wedding,  you might ask? Would I actually drive an hour and a half west, and spend a leisurely evening watching the (three-hour) movie, and feasting (or gorging?) on a feast worthy of a dozen dwarves??

See for yourself why I wouldn’t miss it for the world:

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“Gandalf Tea Wednesday. Or at least this is what Bilbo should have written down … Some called for ale, and some for porter, and one for coffee, and all of them for cakes . . . A big jug of coffee had just been set in the hearth, the seed-cakes were gone, and the dwarves were starting on a round of buttered scones . . . ‘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!’”  ~The Hobbit

That is what we ate.

Emily made this feast to be as exactly like the one the dwarves enjoyed straight out of Bilbo’s larder. So, not only did her masterpiece make use of science (she used precise methods and also minced an entire pork shoulder by hand) but also history and literature  (She meticulously researched what exact recipe Tolkien would have had in mind when he put them in his story and tracked down the recipe corresponding to the time period and the correct area of England, and of course studied the chapter of the Hobbit entitled “An Unexpected Party” for the exact menu.)

Basically, she’s a genius. And so was Tolkien. As Recipewise explains: “Tolkien’s obvious enjoyment of food and drink at communal meals with friends, family and colleagues at Oxford, is very much translated into his works. Many of the scenes featuring food are intended to lift the mood, and do so successfully; yet Tolkien also uses them to indicate many other things: the history of the place, the level of development reached, the status of a person (and the dwelling) and any relationship dynamics which are important to highlight.”

So, it wasn’t just cuz he was hungry!

Okay, your turn. Do you have a favorite childhood book?  Wind in the Willows? Peter Pan? Chronicles of Narnia?
Did something out of your stories tantalize your tastebuds and simultaneously fascinate your imagination? I would love to hear about it!

PS*I’m kicking myself for not having pictures of the contract she sent out as an invitation – the contract, of course, like the one Bilbo received from the dwarves in which he agreed to burgle for them. Once he finally signed it, that is. Perhaps I will post some in a few days. Bug me!

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