Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Greasy Five: Children's Books that Play with Food

Here at The Greasy Skillet we love books. At any given moment in our home, I'm only a few steps away from a book. At my bedside is a little basket that my wife and daughter refer to as the rat's nest. It's full of stuff that fuels The Greasy Skillet.

Someday I'll show you its contents.

When I became a parent, someone told me that I would never have time to read. This hasn’t been the case; I read more than ever. Being a parent is time consuming, but I make time to read. If it's a choice between reading or television, I usually gravitate towards ink and paper. Reading is something my daughter and I often do together, and I'm pleased to announce that she is also a book lover. I get the biggest kick watching her enjoy a good book, and I'm grateful our home is a place where books are read, appreciated, and discussed.

In today's installment of The Greasy Five, I thought I'd share my five-favorite children's books for foodies.

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
  • It's no surprise that I would include this on this list. Dr. Seuss uses his trademark playful rhymes to serve up the intriguing possibility of green eggs & ham, and more importantly he advocates the value of occasionally trying something new and different. I know many adults who would benefit from this advice.
And I would eat them in a boat
And I would eat them with a goat
And I will eat them in the rain
And in the dark, And on a train
And in a car. And in a tree
They are so good, so good, you see!
Brave Potatoes by Toby Speed and illustrated by Barry Root
  • This book might be on the list merely because it has potatoes in the title and it's illustrated by a man whose last name is Root. This makes me chuckle, and I take great delight in small joys such as this. This book tells the story of some prize potatoes from the country fair that are kidnapped by Chef Hackemup who needs them for his soups, stews, and chowders. I'll be honest with you: When I read this book, I sometimes root for the antagonist. I can't help it; I love a good soup.
Way across town at the Chowder Lounge
Hackemup the chef begins attack
with the chopper and the dicer
and the shredder and the grater
and the masher and the mincer
and the So-Long-See-You-Later!

See him chop, chop, chop!
Chili peppers on the top.
Spanish onions do a tango while the radishes unfurl
See the parsnips looking pallid in the Bastaboolabaisse,
while the salad softly sings a veggie-ballad
See the carrots curli-queuing and the garlic parachuting.
With a plop, plop, plop,
in the chowder pot they drop!
The Bake Shop Ghost by Jacqueline K. Ogburn and illustrated by Marjorie Priceman
  • Sure the title is a tad plain, but this book is delightful. The book tells the story of Cora Lee Merriweather, a ghost who haunts a bake shop she used to own. When a baker named Annie Washington buys the shop, she decides she's not going to tolerate Cora Lee's antics, so they reach an agreement.
"Enough!" Annie cried. "What do you want? What can I do so you'll let me work in peace?"

Cora Lee stared through the swirling flour, then smiled a title little smile. "Make me a cake," she said. "Make me a cake so rich and so sweet, it will fill me up and bring tears to my eyes. A cake like one I might have baked, but that no one ever made for me."
  • What follows is an account of Annie's attempt to bake the perfect cake for Cora Lee. The touching ending always bring tears to my eyes. Yes, you heard correctly. The ending makes me cry. I also cry while watching Little House on the Prairie episodes and Hallmark commercials, so I guess I'm a bit of a softie.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
  • When I watch the Harry Potter movies, I'm always enthralled with the scenes that take place in the grand, dining hall. I can't take my gaze off the scrumptious mounds of food that grace the tables. It looks like those kids at Hogwarts eat well. I wish the school cafeteria of my youth would have been as good. My favorite food moment in Harry Potter occurs in the first book when the snack cart passes Harry's train compartment. I can relate. When I travel, I'm afraid I'm going to miss some culinary treat the region has to offer, so I tend to eat more than three meals a day. When I read the following passage, I'm suddenly nine-years-old with a pocket full of change and I'm standing in the candy aisle at Peek's Supersaver in Pomona, KS. Good literature can reclaim youth. It has that kind of power.
What she did have were Bertie Bott's Every flavor Beans, Drooble's Best Blowing Gum, Chocolate Frogs, Pumpkin Pasties, Cauldron Cakes, Licorice Wands, and a number of other strange things Harry had never seen in his life. Not wanting to miss anything, he got some of everything and paid the woman eleven silver Sickles and seven bronze Knuts.
Stone Soup
  • I don't own this book, but I fondly remember it from my school days. In the book, some hungry travelers trick everyone in a village into contributing ingredients to make a tasty soup. Of course, I remember it because it was about soup, which might be one of my favorite foods to eat, but I also liked the book because it was about community and sharing. When I started this blog, I wanted to title it Stone Soup, but someone else out there in the blogosphere had already claimed it. The rest is history.
What are your favorite children's books for foodies?

Happy reading,


muddywaters said...

I really need to work on my formatting for The Greasy Five. I think, I'm aesthetically challenged.

I know these are children's books, but I think a good book is a good book. Mr. Crankypants is still upset with those bastards over the NY Times for creating a separate bestseller list for children's books, so Harry Potter wouldn't dominate the fiction bestseller list. He really despises labels.

Margi in Ky said...

Stone Soup is a comic on go-comics. Trying your sloppy joe's tomorrow.

Marianne said...

My oldest son loved reading the books by Brian Jacques, the Redwall series. It was the only books I could get him to read on his own in 2nd grade. I asked Grant one time what he loved about the stories and he thought the description of food that the animals dined on were the best!

nella said...

No children's food books, but here is what this foodie has done since she was a little girl on her grandfather's lap:

We would go through a magazine and pretend to eat the food and talk about it. It really was great fun. Pretending to eat Jello, fruit, salads, and cookies.

It made us laugh and talk. I have done it with my daughter, my foster children, and my grandchildren. We all love to "eat" from the magazines. These days it's "Gourmet" and "Food and Wine", not the "Ladies Home Journal".

muddywaters said...

Margi: Thanks for stopping by, and please let me know how the joes worked for you.

Marianne: Thanks for the suggestion. I'll need to track down that series for my daughter when she gets a little older. I envy writers who can vividly capture the experience of enjoying a good meal.

Nella: This playful game sounds fun. It sounds like something that would be a hit in The Greasy Skillet household. It might also make my Little Miss Picky Eater more receptive to trying new foods.

Kate said...

I LOVED Stone Soup when I was a kid. That and Rockaboxen, but I don't know if there was food in that. Of course the little Red Hen is a good food story.

rebel said...

I remember Stone Soup. That was a good one. I can't think of any thing else, must be because I'm up so late and my brain isn't workin'.

Maggie said...

Ooo! Great post and I'd never heard of the Brave Potatoes. Here are some that we love:
Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, a favorite from my husband's childhood. We have the copy from when he was a kid but had to buy a second because it gets read so often.
The Giant Jam Sandwich, a favorite from my childhood. We have my original copy of this too.
And if only I had a girl someone else could enjoy this book with me: Fanny at Chez Panisse

Maggie said...

I forgot a bunch of others!
In the Night Kitchen
Watch Out for the Chicken Feet in Your Soup
The Popcorn Book This last one is another original copy from my childhood.
I also have an awesome Strawberry Shortcake cookbook that rocks and an original Pooh Cookbook. If you don't mind, I'm going to steal this post. With a link back of course.

High Plains Drifters said...

Where the Wild Things Are starts with Max missing supper and climaxes with a feast amongst the Wild Things.

Can you believe Spike Jonze is making a live-action film version of a ten-sentence long story?

Big Thumbs Up to Maggie for mentioning In the Night Kitchen.

Literally playing with food: Shel Silverstein's ABZs tells kids to throw Ernie, the genie who lives in the ceiling, some eggs, and he'll reach down and catch them.

My favorite 60 minutes of television will always be Northern Exposure's "The Big Feast." I think that season if finally out in DVD, but I have two seasons' worth on the shelf and can't find time to watch them, so there's no sense is spending hard earned cash on yet another pile of plastic.

muddywaters said...

Maggie: Thank you so much for the suggestion. My daughter gives you a big hug. We appreciate good reading suggestions, and I'm eager to track these titles down.

I need to mosey over your way and check things out.

muddywaters said...

High Plains Drifter: Thanks for the suggestions.

I'm also a huge Northern Exposure fan, and I own the first season on DVD. However, I've only watched one episode on it. Two weeks ago you inspired to watch the "Aurora Borealis" episode, which might be my favorite simply because Adam is introduced. Of course, you remember Adam. He might be my favorite television character ever. Great stuff.

High Plains Drifters said...

Best final line of a book:

"And it was still hot."