that surprising and wonderful moment
when you discover
there is yet one more unread book
written by one of your favorite authors
hiding in plain sight
waiting for you to pick it up.
children’s book author roald dahl and his daughter, lucy
What If Willy Wonka Was Your Dad?
Roald Dahl’s Magical Parenting With Food
“food was a huge part of our upbringing,” lucy dahl says. her father delighted his children with fanciful “midnight feasts” in the woods and often used mealtime to test out new characters from stories he was working on.
three-course dinner chewing gum.
fizzy lifting drinks.
these, of course, are the creations of willy wonka, who himself is the creation of author roald dahl. food is a huge part of his work, and as it turns out, dahl’s creative and sometimes twisted approach to food wasn’t confined to his books.
“food was a huge part of our upbringing,” says dahl’s daughter lucy.
tn this week’s episode of the sporkful podcast, ahead of father’s day, lucy shares stories of the witch’s potions that accompanied bedtime, the cabbage her father said came straight from the queen’s garden, and being woken up in the middle of the night to eat chocolate.
“everything about our childhood was eccentric,” she says, “although we didn’t realize it at the time because it was just normal to us.” lucy dahl is 51 now, but she still bursts with childlike glee when she recalls her father’s “midnight feasts.”
he’d wake the kids up in the middle of the night and pile them into the car – which was full of hot chocolate and cookies – and drive them up the road in the english countryside where they lived.
then they’d walk in to the woods in their pajamas to look for badgers.
“you couldn’t talk, and he’d say, ‘nobody move! and if you’ve got an itch, blow on it. try and hold your breath, try not to breathe!’ ” lucy recalls. “and sure enough, mr. badger would come prowling out and walk right past us. it was incredibly exciting.”only once they had seen an animal could they tuck in to their sweet feast.”and then,” lucy says, “we’d all go home, back to bed, delighted.”
roald dahl kept his kids entertained during normal eating hours, too. he often used mealtime to test out new characters from stories he was working on.”the minpins lived in the woods beyond our house,” lucy remembers, referring to one of her father’s last books, about a tiny people who live inside trees. “the BFG – the big friendly giant – lived underneath our orchard. it all coincided with what we ate. for breakfast were minpins’ eggs and fried bread. but what they actually were were quail eggs.”
just as roald dahl used stories to bring food to life at home, he used food to bring characters to life in his books. willy wonka’s fizzy lifting drinks aren’t just a fun idea – they also tell us something about who he is. in fantastic mr. fox, the three mean farmers who are out to get mr. fox are described only by their body shapes and their diets.
so this father’s day, wake your kids up in the middle of the night, take them into the woods in their pajamas to look for badgers, load them full of chocolate, then put them back to bed.
“even though you’re growing up,
you should never stop having fun. “
– nina dobrev
credits: npr, the spoon, the sporkful, dan pashman, m.haircloth
“where the wild things are”
was initially pitched as
“where the wild horses are”
his editor loved the pitch but
sendak could not draw horses
so the wild things he drew
ended up being
caricatures of his relatives.
“writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers.”
credits: maurice sendak, “where the wild things are” – 1963, harper and collins
Author, Ermine Cnningham, ( known to wordpress bloggers as: Ermigal from ‘odds and ends from ermigal) https://ermigal.wordpress.com – has written a wonderful and lively romp, “Pretend You Know What You’re Doing – My Voyage From Teacher to Humor Writer.” In this sweet and funny book, Ermine offers up her tale, a mix of prose and blog posts, chronicling the story of how she grew to be the hilarious and well-rounded, (in a positive Italian way), woman she is today. I was lucky enough to have an early read and am happy to invite you to share in the fun.
Her book is available through amazon.com and erminecunningham.com.
Laugh ‘Til Your Meatballs Fall Apart (My Amazon review below)
Ermine Cunningham, retired teacher, and now, humor writer, and woman of the world, has written this hilarious book that will keep you laughing from beginning to end. She chronicles her bumpy journey, through trial and error, into the worlds of teaching, corporate working, dating, being part of an Italian family and beginning her own family. Once she has mastered all of these, she finds herself in a completely new role, as a retiree, feeling her way through the world of volunteering, blogging, writer’s workshops, salsa dancing, and all sorts of new things. If you’re looking to laugh and to follow a positive and creative woman on her road trip through life, I highly recommend this book. You will not regret a second spent reading it, and you might even learn something, even if it’s just what not to do.
nom de plume
that i chose
many years ago
as i planned
if you ever
on a cover
pick up the book
romance is the glamour
which turns the dust of everyday life
into a golden haze.
– carolyn gold heilbrun