Illustrated by Quentin Blake
Photographs by Jan Baldwin
Recipes compiled by Josie Fison and Felicity Dahl
(Puffin Books, 1994)
This is part of a week-long focus on feeding minds and stomachs, a celebration of children’s cookbooks and picture books that fixate on food.
How is it that I only discovered this book this year?! As noted in the Introduction, the seed for Revolting Recipes germinated from a conversation between Roald and his wife, Felicity. Weeks later, Roald produced a listing of the delectable, wacky and disgusting food items mentioned in his various works for children. After his death, Felicity collaborated with others to create this fitting labor of love.
Just reading the Recipe List at the beginning is enough to activate children’s imaginations and make parents fret over the inevitable mess in the kitchen and the awkward tasting ceremony to follow. While there are some yummy sounding recipe titles like Bunce’s Doughnuts (inspired by Fantastic Mr. Fox) and Strawberry-Flavored Chocolate-Coated Fudge (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), you know kids are going to want to fixate on the creepilicious-sounding concoctions from James and the Giant Peach:
Stink Bugs’ Eggs
Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes Most Delicately Fried
Hot Frogs Crispy Wasp Stings on a Piece of Buttered Toast
Quite the menu! At the end of the recipe for Snozzcumbers (The BFG), there is a note to tempt readers: Sophie said the original Snozzcumber tasted of frogskin and rotten fish. The BFG said it tasted like cockroaches and slime wanglers. What do you think? That is enough to bait mad chefs into giving the recipe (basically tuna-stuffed cucumbers) a try. The grosser sounding the dish, the better. Don’t think so? Take out a carton of sour milk, comment on how badly it reeks and see if any kid can resist having a sniff for himself. Gross is irresistible.
To be honest, the actual recipes often sound worse than the titles as they call for heaping amounts of butter and not very enticing ingredients like white bread, celery, cod, corn syrup and chicken bouillon cubes. Blech. That said, the recipe I would want to try with a group of kids is for Lickable Wallpaper (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). You’ve got eight hours of wait time in the middle of the directions (“Is it ready yet? How ‘bout now? What about now?”), but who wouldn’t want to feast on edible wallpaper?
Dahl’s regular illustrator, Quentin Blake, helps strengthen the visual connection between the classic novels and this collection. Still, I would have liked to have seen a specific book quote referencing each recipe title or a short explanation connecting recipe to novel. In doing so, the young cooks would want to return to the original source of such Dahl-icious creations as Candy-Coated Pencils for Sucking in Class and Wormy Spaghetti. Anything that returns young readers to the zany, imaginative world of Roald Dahl is worth celebrating.