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Recipes from Tolkien’s World

Fantasy and gastronomy. A seemingly useless relationship, since the stories take place in worlds created by our brain. Different from the role it has in science fiction, where futuristic experiments often give the feeling of anticipating tomorrow. Yet, since what’s going on in our heads doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not true, to paraphrase a quote, food in fantasy stories always plays an important role. Even more in some great epics. In Tolkien’s work, for many the last great epic work, food strangely plays a very important role, especially as a vehicle of history, of the customs of a people (see the Hobbits or the Pelopods in the television series the more recent power rings) and the dynamics of a story (the elvish bread which in Peter Jackson’s trilogy is given by elves to hobbits traveling to defeat the ring). It is to this story in the story that it is dedicated Recipes from Tolkien’s World of Robert TusleyAnderson (Demetra, 176 pp, 20 euros).

A recipe book which is also intended as a collection to understand a great work. Quite innovative, since Tolkien had not yet written much on this particular topic of JRR’s work. In the book’s introduction, Anderson points out how much cooking in this particular world “is about values ​​such as brotherhood and friendship, love and hope, but above all – and perhaps most importantly – the hearth” and therefore the reference to the almost divine virtues of certain foods, which do not refer so much to the magic of fantasy, but to a spiritual dimension of food that we should perhaps all rediscover.

Rivendell, the house of Elrond, in one of the beautiful drawings in the book

In these pages finely decorated (also in the wake of the premium editions of Tolkien’s books), you will then find a carousel of stories in the form of recipes, all inspired by what we have read or seen in The Hobbit and in The Lord of the Rings , but which it is reasonable to think that they remember a lot from the series currently airing on Prime Video dedicated to the prequel to the main saga. Among the most interesting certainly the Pork Pie that Bilbo Baggins serves at his unexpected party and the Rabbit Stew which for Sam (aims for Gangee), the Hobbit who helped Frodo in his personal mission, personally represents the return home and salvation after a long and long dangerous adventure. But always the Beornian Honey Candies or the Whole Molasses Scrones (loved by Queen Elizabeth II) which, together with the previous recipes, represents a corpus more faithful to what we have seen on the stage. Other recipes, on the other hand, like Tongues of Stuffed and Roasted Peppers (which the author intends to recall the hair of the dreaded Balrog), are imaginative, aesthetic in a sense homages to pieces of history .

& nbsp;  The county, the houses of the Hobbits & nbsp;

The county, the houses of the hobbits

Again the hobbits. Pervasive, over-the-top, colorful and wondrous (for those who certainly created them). They are the real leitmotif of this book, being traditionally the race most linked to food and conviviality in the Tolkenian epic. Anderson’s recipes are actually organized according to their famous subdivision of foods into six daily meals. It starts with breakfast and second breakfast, then eleven o’clock afternoon tea, lunch, tea time and dinner. But if you want to take a breakfast recipe and use it as a snack, you’re pretty sure the characters who inspired those recipes would happily approve.

We offer you as a gift a recipe dedicated to tea time, which in the book is presented as follows: “There is something typically hobbit about having tea: it is hard to imagine the vigorous men of Gondor agreeing to an opinion so gratifying. That said, if the “An Unexpected Party” at Bilbo’s – which began as a simple afternoon tea – is somehow exemplary, then the Dwarves certainly won’t say no to a few cakes” and so on, in a series of small insights into the stories Tolkien gave us and Anderson explains, which makes for a tasty further development of the material.

Wholemeal Molasses Scones

“Among the scrumptious dishes that Bilbo serves to Thorin and his companions when they arrive at the Baggins house at the beginning of The Hobbit, the shakes cannot be missing. With this recipe, you will prepare enough to satisfy the 13 dwarfs – plus one for the late wizard. Shakes are the perfect teatime treat, especially if they’re halved and spread with cream and jam.”

Ingredients (for 14 scones):
400 grams of whole malt flour
Qs more flour for flour
50 g of butter in pieces
50 grams light muscovado sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
8 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
1 beaten egg


Work the flour and butter in a bowl with your hands or in a mixer until it reaches a crumbly consistency. Then add the sugar and yeast. Mix the baking soda with the yogurt and add them to the dry mixture along with the molasses. At this point, incorporate the beaten egg little by little until you obtain a soft but not sticky dough.

Using a smooth cookie cutter, make 5 cm circles and place them on a greased baking sheet. Knead the scraps again and repeat the process until the dough is complete. Sprinkle with a handful of wholemeal flour, if desired, or bake them directly in a preheated oven at 220° for 6-8 minutes until the shakes are well puffed and golden brown.

Serve hot or cold scones, halved and topped with crème fraîche or heavy cream, or Dumbledore Blueberry Honey Jam (p. 117) or Spiced Plum Jam (p. 120).

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