Just before the exam season, I (Amy) took a trip home to Belfast. My fellow Northern Irish exiles will know how it feels to arrive in Belfast International Airport to see adverts for Tayto crisps; it is practically possible to smell the unmistakable tang of their cheese and onion flavour in the arrivals lounge. Those who grew up in Bangor will know the feeling of stopping at a certain pizzaria on the way home. And going into a cafe to see fifteens and malteaser buns lining the shelves is just brilliant. No matter how much has changed in the eight years since I left, Northern Ireland’s particular culinary tradition is still intact.
During my trip, I had the opportunity to visit Bloomfield Collegiate School in Belfast and do a Literary Kitchen-themed workshop with a Year 10 class (aged about 14). It all started off with a quiz…match up the food and the fiction! The pupils all did incredibly well – most of them got a score of 8/10 or more! Why don’t you see if you can beat them? (Answers at the bottom of the page.)
|1. Of Mice and Men||A. Apple pie|
|2. The Gruffalo||B. Baked beans|
|3. Matilda||C. Turkish Delight|
|4. A Christmas Carol||D. Chocolate frogs|
|5. Little Women||E. American biscuits|
|6. Carrie’s War||F. Scrambled snake|
|7. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe||G. Mince pies|
|8. To Kill a Mockingbird||H. Orange juice|
|9. Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone||I. Chocolate cake|
|10. Noughts and Crosses||J. Pickled limes|
Then we thought about what the foods in fiction tell us about characterisation, setting and context. The class was divided into groups, which were given an extract from a different novel. They produced wonderful posters about these novels and gave a short presentation about their specific foods.
The foods in these novels evoke a variety of issues. In Randa Abdel-Fattah’s Does my Head Look Big in This? the teenage narrator – Amal – deals with issues arising from her family’s migration from Palestine to Australia. She eats home-cooked Palestinian food with pride, but wishes that the women in the family did not always have to be the cooks. During a particularly tense dinner-conversation, Amal fervently hopes that her uncle would not be embarrassed about his cultural heritage. The group who worked on Of Mice and Men discovered that the tin of baked beans eaten by the novel’s protagonists – Lennie and George – symbolises the impoverished circumstances they live in due to the Great Depression. The pupils who read an extract from The Life of Pi thought about how food is absolutely essential for survival – and it is worth risking combat with a tiger to get hold of some supplies.
Sadly there is no recipe this week. However, we will continue our sojourn in Ireland next time with something special for Bloomsday. In the meantime, another cheer for the girls of Bloomfield Collegiate School!
Answers: 1 B, 2 F, 3 I, 4 G, 5 J, 6 A, 7 C, 8 E, 9 D, 10 H