SurLaLune Header Logo

This is an archived string from the
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Discussion Board.

Back to December 2003 Archives Table of Contents

Return to Board Archives Main Page

Visit the Current Discussions on EZBoard

Visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page

Author Comment
Unregistered User
(11/25/03 4:16 pm)
Food and Fairy Tales
Im in a Food, Feminism and Fiction cclass and i'm doing my final paper on the Symbolism of Food in Fairy Tales. Im having a hard time coming up with any books or journals to refer to in my paper and back up the points im trying ot make.
Any suggestions of books, journals, articles that I might find helpful?

Registered User
(11/25/03 7:37 pm)
food and feminism in fairy tales
That is an interesting topic. If I had this assignment, I would start backward and look at critical writings about particular fairy tales and their symbolism. I'd start with the story of Rapunzel ... her birth mother had a craving while pregnant which is how her father came to be trespassing in the witch's garden. I would then look at stories that portray lavish feasts. I might also consider the story of the princess and the pea. The one work that came immediately to mind is not really a fairy tale at all, but the poem Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti. I would also check out traditional symbols and their meaning. Sorry this is so vague and likely useless to you. Just a few organizing thoughts from someone who, at this moment, is rather disorganized. However, I'm sure there are people here who have more concrete ideas



Registered User
(11/25/03 10:15 pm)
Re: Food and Fairy Tales
See Louis Marin's Food for Thought (Johns Hopkins University Press).

Registered User
(11/26/03 8:22 am)
Food & Love
You might want to look into the notion that nobody ever says 'I love you" in fairy tales. Instead, they feed each other. Feeding equals love. And so the witch in Hansel & Gretel (to use the obvious case) is a corruption, an inversion of love, not merely cannibalism.


Registered User
(11/26/03 10:25 am)
Re: Food & Love
and don't forget that "perfect" Apple...

Registered User
(11/26/03 12:09 pm)
Re: Food and Fairy Tales
Tables laden with food are often magical or an indication of hidden wealth or good fortune, as in the Table, the Ass, and the Stick and Stone Soup. Contrast that with stories where thirst indicates greed, The Magic Fountain, or opportunity for the villian, the Goosegirl.


Registered User
(11/27/03 7:35 pm)
love at first bite!
Just a comment on Gregor's observation, being fed is still a sign of being loved in quite a lot of places! Think Mediterranean! Its all about nourishment, and all the emotion of love is put into the cooking process, that special touch without which the meal wouldn't be the same.
I like the inversion on the cannibalism theme, never thought of it that way before, but definitely rings true.

Registered User
(11/28/03 12:14 pm)
re:love at first bite!
"Like Water for Chocolate" - while not Mediterranean, definately ties emotions and food together in a delightful way. (Ok - not exactly a fairy tale, but...)


Registered User
(11/30/03 4:15 pm)
Re: Food & Love

Don't most fairy tales pre-date the concept of love. Meaning wasn't love, courtly love, intorduced through bards in medieval times?

I ask because I really don't know, but I always figured that was why 'I love you' was seldom if ever seen in a fairy tale.

Like the cannabilism idea.


Registered User
(12/1/03 8:21 am)
Re: Courtley love

You're close. The idea of courtly love was championed by Eleanor of Aquitaine (1122-1204) who wrote many of the rules and was a protector of bards and minstrels who spread it throughout what we now call France and England. (She was queen of both at different times.)

All the best,

Registered User
(12/2/03 6:24 pm)
Re: Courtley love
Gastronomica is a scholarly journal about food. Maybe search their website if they have one or contact an editor there.


Registered User
(12/7/03 12:24 am)
Don't know if it's what you're looking for, but you might like Clever Cooks by Ellin Greene.

Registered User
(12/7/03 8:01 pm)
The Princess & the Perfect Dish
There's a wonderful picture book called "The Princess and the Perfect Dish" written by Armin Greder and illustrated by Libby Gleeson about a princess who, as a child, tastes a wonderful peach on a vine in the palace garden. She wanted another, but there was only one and she became sad. Years passed and she longed to taste that taste again but no longer could she remember what it was exactly that she had tasted that day. And so people came from far and wide, bringing dishes for her to sample, but none of them satisfied her until one day a humble musician chanced on a peach from the same tree but on the other side of the castle wall ...

"Have to come to woo me?" she said.
He sang of his great love for her. His voice was the most beautiful she had ever heard and her heart was moved.
"But i cannot be won by song. Only by food" said she.
"This is all that I have" he said. And he offered it to her.
She held the shimmering fruit and again it felt soft and smooth. She took a knife and cut it.
At her first bite she smelt the rich perfume and tasted the wild sweetness, the freedom and wonder of her childhood.
At the second bite she was overwhelmed by warmth and love. By the third she was holding her arms out to the young man, sharing the fruit with him. She drew him to her, saying "You may feed, no, feast with me forever".

Niniane Sunyata
Registered User
(12/8/03 10:40 am)
Re: Courtly love
But, a lot of the tales that are now considered "Fairy Tales" date back to the French Salon fairy tales told by Perrault and Gang, as well as the Brothers Grimm in Germany. And those were well after medieval times. Then again, both schools were not exactly high on the whole stars-exploding and fireworks type of love that has become popular with Disney. The Salon storytellers were worldly, and the Grimms had their own social agenda (see Zipes)

I think, even if the exact "i love you"'s are not mentioned, the concept of love exists, even if via the filters of social mores and convention. I think the female storytellers of the Salon period were more inclined towards mentioning love and passion than someone like Perrault. I suppose these things depend on the culture of the retelling.

I have just been embroiled in a fascinating discussion on another site about the story of Amor and Psyche, and how that exemplifies the experience of apprehending *Love* etc. Since many of the tales in the French Salon period refers to this one, I think it would be interesting to see how the concept of *Amor* has been filtered, and changed by societal conventions. Zipes's a good guy to read for background info on stuff like this.

As for food stories, I remember "Allelluriah" (I think I have the spelling wrong) where the king's daughter who runs away because of his propensity towards incest disguises herself and rubs her face with suit. She captures (another) Kings' curiosity by making a special soup for him on three different occasions, and by doing dramatically quick costume changes at the same time. The soup seemed so fantastic in the story, somehow. The way to a man's heart, eh? Nice way to get girls to be good housewives and cooks.

I'm also wondering if maybe there is so much food in fairytales mostly because of the audience and what they want.

If you're going to be transported to a world where people turn beautiful and rich, then you might as well have some good food in the tale as well, especially since your target audience are hungry 3/4s of the time. I'm thinking of this because this is what Bollywood (the Indian Hollywood) does in its movies produced for the masses. They reproduce in excess all the things that the average movie-goers lack.

Anita Harris.
Terra Mythogene

Edited by: Niniane Sunyata at: 12/8/03 10:41 am
Registered User
(12/10/03 2:07 pm)
Food and Fairy Tales
Try Margaret Visser's "The Rituals of Dinner" (I think that is the correct title...)

As I don't have the book on me at the moment, I can't say for certain if it will involve fairy tales. However, it is a very comprehensive and in-depth look at the important facets of food and human society, especially in the area of food and eating as a social activity. I would be surprised if there wasn't anything useful in it.

It's a darn fine book, at any rate.

SurLaLune Logo

amazon logo with link

This is an archived string from the
SurLaLune Fairy Tales Discussion Board.

©2003 SurLaLune Fairy Tale Pages

Back to December 2003 Archives Table of Contents

Return to Board Archives Main Page

Visit the Current Discussions on EZBoard

Visit the SurLaLune Fairy Tales Main Page