a bit of y.a. fantasy + a collection of picture books to inspire a day in the kitchen!

There’s just something delicious about sharing a food experience with characters from a well-loved book.

The Deltora Quest craze (an underground island kingdom where the people are half fish) is running into its sixteenth year at our house!  Even though we’re all well and truly outside the target age range now, we still pounce on anything new, including recently the Star of Deltora series.  

When the craze was in full swing, I’d often serve up Molisk patties (a.k.a. sea-weedy fishy sort of things) for dinner, as per:

“ ‘Here are rugs to keep you warm while you rest,’ she chattered. ‘And bread – freshly baked – with hot Molisk patties. I am sure you are hungry.’

She put down a basket of flat speckled rolls and a bowl of steaming objects that looked like green meatballs. Suddenly aware that they were ravenous, the companions helped themselves. … The patties were delicately flavoured and melted on the tongue.”
- (from Deltora Quest 2 The Isle of Illusion)

The patties I cooked up were neither delicately flavoured nor melt-on-the-tongue. But they were always a hit because they connected real life with that engrossing, fantasy world.

Books about food are like that – we feel connected even though the food might not be the focal point of the story. There’s just something delicious about sharing a food experience with characters from a well-loved book. So here are 8 picture books that invite us into the world of food, some explicitly and some subtly, but all full of flavour.

Duck Soup by Jackie Urbanovic – a very funny book about a duck who is determined to cook the perfect soup. But his friends find the soup unattended and jump to all sorts of outlandish conclusions.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff, illustrated by Felicia Bond – the classic circular story about consequences and cookies. It's great to read when you’re in a baking mood.

Growing Vegetable Soup by Lois Ehlert – a simple and vivid picture book, ideal for young children. The vegetable soup in this story starts as a packet of seeds. There’s a recipe in the back too, if you’ve never made vegetable soup before.

Tony’s Bread by Tomie dePaola – our copy was signed by the author in 1993, so it’s 23 years old! This is a witty and fast-moving retelling of one of the legends about how panettone came to be.

Jamie O’Rourke and the Big Potato by Tomie dePaola – the story of Jamie, ‘the laziest man in all of Ireland’ and the giant potato that helped him to escape working for the rest of his life!

Wombat Stew by Marcia Vaughn, illustrated by Pamela Lofts – a silly dingo and a much loved wombat star in this most quintessential of Australian books.

I Will Never Not Ever Eat a Tomato by Lauren Child – of all the Charlie and Lola books I think this is my favourite. As always, Charlie helps his funny little sister Lola to see the light as he helps her move past a long list of food she will not eat.

Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban – a sweet story for fussy eaters and their long suffering parents.

And here are a few more that we looked at earlier: I’m a Hungry Dinosaur, Anatole, Anzac Biscuits, Dragons Love Tacos

P.S. Have you seen foodinliterature.com? I’ve been reading The Night Circus and loving it, so this made me smile.

P.P.S. If you’re a Deltora family too, and would like to try out Molisk patties, here’s how we made them (nothing like the ones in the book, but they work for us):

1 egg
1 tablespoon chopped coriander
a good handful of finely chopped silverbeet or spinach
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 can white beans, rinsed and mashed
1 ¼ cups wholewheat flour
1 can evaporated milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
Dash of tabasco (but I’d probably try a bit of sriracha instead now)

Just mix it all together and cook like pancakes, then top with sour cream, chopped tomatoes, avocado, grated cheese, toasted seeds etc etc.

The books are linked to Book Depository but, if you'd like to search for them through our other booksellers, here are our affiliate links: Amazon - Booktopia. Big thanks for supporting our site!