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“The Narnia Cookbook,” by C.S. Lewis’ youngest stepson Douglas Gresham. Col­legian | Austin Gergens

C.S. Lewis, one of the most pro­lific writers of the 20th century, is widely known for his children’s book series, the Chron­icles of Narnia. His philo­sophical trea­tises on objective morality in “The Abo­lition of Man,” and the nature of temp­tation in “The Screwtape Letters” have also gained him great noto­riety. Many are familiar with him as a Christian the­ologian and writer, but the 1998 “The Narnia Cookbook,” com­piled by Lewis’ youngest stepson Douglas Gresham and pub­lisher Mary Kate Morgan, explores Lewis’ other pro­found love: food.

Whether or not you’ve read the entire seven volume Chron­icles of Narnia, or only seen the 2005 movie “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe,” you’re probably familiar with Edmund Pevensie’s obsession with Turkish Delight. In Douglas Gresham’s “The Narnia Cookbook,” you can learn how to make the deli­cious del­icacy, and enjoy it without betraying your friends.  

Keeping in line with the book series’ rec­om­mended audience, Gresham adver­tises the book to kids ages eight and up.  

In Gresham’s foreword, he dis­cusses C.S. Lewis —“Jack” — and his expe­rience in the kitchen. Many of Jack’s favorite dishes came from “The Book of Household Man­agement,” a widely-used cookbook that con­tained a few thousand recipes. “The Narnia Cookbook” is a nos­talgic under­taking, harkening back to Gresham’s childhood, and revealing some of the foods he and Jack enjoyed.

The 115-page cookbook is divided into six main sec­tions: Breakfast, Lunch, Afternoon Tea, Dinner, Dessert, and Drinks. The last sub­section, titled “Some Favorite Narnian Menus,” presents several examples of meals, such as, “Tea With Mr. Tumnus,” using com­bi­na­tions of recipes from the main sec­tions.  

Each section begins with a preface briefly describing the ety­mology of the meal, and its sig­nif­i­cance in our world versus the world of Narnia. In the Dinner section, the author describes how dinner was the most sig­nif­icant meal at Jack’s house, The Kilns, and was “served at seven in the evening and could be either a very simple meal or an elab­orate feast, depending on the occasion.” At the closing of the Dinner preface, Grisham invites the reader to have his own Narnian Dinner party with friends.

Besides Edmund’s Turkish Delight, the book presents a lot of basic, tra­di­tionally English recipes, such as but­tered eggs and roast chestnuts, as well as more dif­ficult dishes like mincemeat pies (a tra­di­tional Christmas dessert in England) and ginger fig pudding. Perhaps the most exotic dish is the stewed eel, the dish that Pud­dleglum first made for Eustace and Jill in “The Silver Chair.”  

Rather than photos of the food, the Narnia cookbook fea­tures original artwork by Pauline Baynes, also the original artist for the Narnia series.  Her drawings add color to the description of the recipes, and help situate the food in its context in the land of Narnia.

Vir­tually the only downside of the cookbook is acquiring it. It is unclear why the book is no longer in print, but the large demand from Narnia devotees has made it dif­ficult to find the cookbook online for under $85. A eco­nomical option would be the $2.99 Kindle version on Amazon, though this puts those who prefer the page to a screen in a predicament.  

Grisham cap­tures Jack’s love of food and friends early on in the cookbook.

“He enjoyed nothing more than a fine dinner in the company of people whom he liked and respected and with whom he could enjoy good con­ver­sation,” Grisham said.  

As such, the cookbook presents many simple recipes that children, or adults with little cooking expe­rience, can easily create and enjoy with others, and be trans­ported back to the magical land of Narnia — no wardrobe nec­essary.