Food & Drink

December 12, 2012

The Hobbit diet

One thing J.R.R. Tolkien makes clear is that hobbits eat a lot, and often. To celebrate the release of the new movie, try some of these recipes (or go to Denny’s)

“The lembas had a virtue without which they would long ago have lain down todie ... this waybread of the Elves had a potency that increased as travelers relied on it alone and did not mingle it with other foods. It fed the will, and it gave strength to endure, and to master sinew and limb beyond the measure of mortal kind.”

— “The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King” by J.R.R. Tolkien, (Houghton-Mifflin)

One thing Tolkien makes clear is that hobbits eat a lot, and often. Just take a look at the fan site, which provides several recipes, including those below for the hobbits’ waybread and the seed cake popular at Bilbo and Frodo’s home, Bag End.

And Denny’s is heavily promoting its Hobbit menu, which includes such dishes as the Shire Sausage, Seed Cake French Toast and Pumpkin Patch Pancakes. Don’t forget Gandalf’s Gobble Melt, with turkey breast slices, stuffing, cranberry-honey mustard on potato bread.

University of Texas at Austin linguistics specialist, Fred Hoyt, who uses Tolkien’s fictional languages in a course he teaches, said that lembas “would definitely not have any real-world comparisons.”

“The name is from ‘Sindarin,’ one of Tolkien’s invented languages, and means ‘journey bread,’ so in that sense you might compare it to a PowerBar,” says Hoyt. “However, lembas had magic or spiritual properties that went beyond plain food.”

Hoyt says one of Tolkien’s letters suggests lembas may be inspired by the “viaticum” of the Latin Mass, the Eucharist given to people in danger of dying or who are embarking on a very dangerous journey.

Tolkien himself liked plain English food, says Hoyt. We know he ate regularly for decades in an Oxford, England, pub called the Eagle and Child, where he and literary friends met to read and critique their manuscripts.

The pub, established in 1620, is still in operation. Manager Steve Lowbridge says that if Tolkien were to appear in the pub today he could order “steak pie or a plate of fish-and-chips or a corn-fed chicken breast, with a local ale, perhaps Hook Norton.”

Houston’s Hobbit Cafe has been in business 40 years but had to expand onto a patio after “The Lord of the Rings” movies brought hobbits to national attention again.

Griddled Lembas

Serves 16

3 eggs

3 eggs

1 cup honey (preferably wild)

1 tablespoon grated orange peel, or grated peel and juice of three kumquats, or one large finger of a hand of Buddha fruit (see Note)

2 teaspoons orange flower water (optional)

3 ounces toasted almonds

2 1/4 cups semolina flour (see Note)

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 cup butter

Place eggs, honey, orange peel or other fruit, orange flower water and almonds in blender. Blend on high for 3 minutes. Add 1 cup of the flour. Blend for 1 minute. Scrape into a bowl and add remaining flour, salt and cinnamon. Whisk or stir until well blended. Melt butter on a griddle. Drop batter by 1/4- to 1/3-cup batches on hot surface and cook till lightly brown; turn and lightly brown. If using a waffle iron, add a teaspoon of baking powder to batter.

Notes: Hand of Buddha fruit is available in season at specialty groceries. You may substitute 1 1/2 cups white flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour and 1/4 cup finely ground cornmeal for the semolina flour.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 218 calories, 7 grams fat, 36 grams carbohydrates, 5 grams protein, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 108 milligrams sodium, 27 percent of calories from fat.

Bag End Seed Cake

Serves 12

3/4 cup butter

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1/3 cup brandy or buttermilk

1 1/2 tablespoon caraway seeds, soaked in the brandy if you like

1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom

1 teaspoon orange flavoring or orange zest

1 7/8 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Blend butter and sugar until well creamed. Beat in eggs, one at a time.

Add brandy or buttermilk, seeds and spices, then blend. Gradually add flour and baking powder until well blended. Pour batter into a greased loaf pan.

Bake 50-70 minutes or until knife inserted in middle comes out clean.

Buttermilk makes a moist cake; otherwise the cake tends to be rather dry. Excellent with cream cheese, jelly or jam.

Nutritional analysis per serving: 257 calories, 13 grams fat, 28 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 78 milligrams cholesterol, 162 milligrams sodium, 48 percent of calories from fat.

Blackberry Tarts from Bree

Make 2 dozen muffin-sized tarts


4 cup blackberries

Sugar to taste

Lemon zest to taste

Wash berries, lightly toss with sugar and lemon zest. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Tart shells:

3 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 cup butter or shortening

8 Tablespoon ice water (more or less)

Sift flour and salt. Cut in shortening or butter. Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with a fork. Shape dough into 2 balls. Roll out and cut out circles just big enough to fit the cups of a muffin tin. Fit the dough circles into the muffin pan like small pies. Fill with the berries.

Bake for about 35 minutes or til pastry is lightly browned.

More about The Hobbit

Know your Hobbit characters - Who's who in Middle Earth

The scholarly pursuit - University of South Carolina professors weigh in on The Hobbit

The State asked the opinions of two University of South Carolina professors who have done research or taught classes involving the works of J.R.R. Tolkien.

'The Hobbit’ and its unexpected journey to the big screen

Nearly a decade after the New Zealand filmmaker concluded his massively successful “Lord of the Rings” trilogy — a string of films that grossed more than $2.9 billion worldwide, capped with a best picture Oscar for 2003’s “The Return of the King” — Jackson is set to launch yet another three-film series from the fantasy novelist’s other famous tome, “The Hobbit.”

New fast-frame super-clear format can puncture 'Hobbit' fantasy

One thought struck me as I watched the new "Hobbit" movie in the latest super-clear format: "The rain looks fake. It's not hitting their faces!"

That is just one consequence of filmmaker Peter Jackson's decision to shoot his epic, three-part "Lord of the Rings" prequel with a frame rate of 48 images per second, double the 24 that cinemagoers have experienced for the past century.

Interview with director Peter Jackson and cast

Many fans are eagerly anticipating a return to the fictional world of Middle-earth with next week's general release of the first movie in "The Hobbit" trilogy. Director Peter Jackson and the film's stars speak to The Associated Press about making "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"

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