Fairy Tale Feasts: A Literary Cookbook for Young Readers And Eaters
by Jane Yolen
Cover Artist: Philippe Beha
Review by Judy Newton
Crocodile Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 1566566436
Date: 30 April, 2006 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
This book is an inspired blend of folk tales and recipes for dishes with connections (some a bit far-fetched, but use your imagination) to the subject of the fiction. Some simple enough for a child to make (albeit with adult supervision), others more complicated, the dishes vary widely in degree of sophistication and age-adjusted appreciation level. Some have unexpected twists to familiar tropes – the suggestion for lining the pita for the Chicken Salad Pockets with Brie cheese before stuffing (sounds delicious, but perhaps not for the youngest cooks).
Jane Yolen, a prolific and Caldecott Award-winning author, treads a fine line for some of the tales, for instance "The Little Mermaid" and "Cinderella", retelling familiar stories, making decisions to combine modern versions with older ones, and choosing endings which might or might not echo the details familiar from recent media. Other tales, from less known traditions, will be new to most readers. Ms. Yolen brings the same wry wit and gift for clear description to each tale.
The mention in sidebars of alternative versions of widely told folktales is a feature that seems odd at first but becomes an interesting highlight for some of the stories. As an analog to these folktale pedigrees, many variations on recipes are discussed regarding the food in several cultures, such as pancakes (blinis, chapattis, latkes).
All the stories are ideal for reading aloud, then following with a collaborative cooking project for delicious results. I recommend the stone soup for a lesson in community cooperation that can easily be translated into a delicious example of family cooperation.
A few minor quibbles: quantities in some recipes are given as "enough for a party", or "enough for a family". Cute, but perhaps more accurate units of measure would be more useful. Also, in the recipe for "Perfect Porridge", we are instructed to cook "oats" for five minutes – but traditional oats need at least 30 minutes; only instant oats would be ready in five.