Five Go Feasting: Famously Good Recipes is inspired by the mouth-watering food and drink in Enid Blyton’s classic books.
From lashings of ginger beer to cherry cake and cucumber sandwiches, food always played a vital role in Enid Blyton’s Famous Five stories. Indeed, much of the books’ appeal lay in the fact that the adventures of George, Anne, Julian, Dick and Timmy the dog followed a reassuringly consistent, food-centric pattern. When opening a Five book, you always knew the gang would go on holiday, discover a mystery or crime, and solve it neatly by the final chapter – stopping for plentiful picnics and snack breaks along the way.
Now, a recipe book based on the food of the Famous Five is set for release. Five Go Feasting: Famously Good Recipes, written by food writer Josh Sutton and published by Seven Dials, will be divided into six chapters: Jolly Good Breakfasts, Perfect Picnics, Scrumptious Suppers, Cracking Cakes and Tasty Treats, and Lashings of Delicious Drinks.
The book was commissioned by Emily Barrett, commissioning editor for Seven Dials and Orion Spring, Orion Publishing Group, and will feature a total of 80 food and drink recipes faithful to Blyton’s novels.
“Enid Blyton was a woman after my own heart – she knew that every good day out involves and revolves around good food,” Barrett tells Stylist.co.uk, adding that many of the 21 Famous Five stories were written when Britain was still under a system of rationing in the wake of World War Two.
“Perhaps that’s why Blyton had food on the brain. Whatever the reason, the Famous Five never left the house for an adventure without eating a good breakfast or cooking one on the camping stove, and they always took picnic ingredients with them or discussed where they could pick up the best lunch on their travels. I live by that philosophy – don’t we all?”
The recipes in Five Go Feasting were inspired by some of the best foodie moments in Blyton’s books – from Aunt Fanny’s “just out of the oven” scones in Five on Kirrin Island Again to the “salad fit for a king” described in minute detail by Dick in Five Go Down to the Sea.
“It helped that the vast majority of the recipes we still eat and love today, although we have also included a couple that are faithful to the books but perhaps aren’t as appetising in the 21st century, such as brawn and boiled tongue,” Barrett says.
And while treats such as boiled sweets and sausage rolls often stick out in our memories of the Famous Five books, Barrett says the gang actually had a “really balanced and varied diet full of salads and vegetables”. As a result, while it “absolutely does include” recipes for the “very best picnic food”, it’s also “a book of well-rounded breakfasts, lunches, dinners and treats, all washed down with lashings of delicious drinks”.
Five Go Feasting will be published on 1 November, tying in with the 50th anniversary of Blyton’s death later that month. As well as the anniversary, Barrett explains that the nostalgic value of the book felt like a timely antidote to negative news headlines.
“Doesn’t the world feel full of doom and gloom at the moment, and isn’t it nice returning to the comfy, familiar stories of our childhoods when everything was less scary?” she says.
“I hope flicking through the recipes and reading the quotes around them will transport readers back to happy memories, and help them to recreate some of the Famous Five’s special magic in the kitchen.”
Five Go Feasting comes on the heels of a series of ‘grown-up’ Famous Five books, published by Quercus, which depict the gang as adults with 21st century concerns. Those books, with titles such as Five on Brexit Island and Five Go Gluten-Free, proved wildly popular when they were published in 2016.
An Enid Blyton-inspired children’s cookbook written by Leon co-founder Allegra McEvedy, Jolly Good Food, was also published last autumn.
Kate Young is the author of The Little Library Cookbook, which features recipes based on meals in adult and children’s literature – from the currant buns eaten in The Tale of Peter Rabbit to the crab and avocado salad that appears in Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. She says it’s not surprising that fiction has proved such a rich source of inspiration for food writers.
“The food in Blyton’s books – her boarding school novels, as well as the adventures of the Famous Five on the Dorset coast – is food I find endlessly familiar, warm, and comforting,” she tells Stylist.co.uk. “It’s rich in nostalgia, even for those of us born decades after it was immortalised in print.
“Food gives us such a sense of time, place, and character – it’s a visceral and delicious portal into the stories we grew up reading,” she continues.
“And as adults, a slice of sticky ginger cake, a picnic by the sea, or a bottle of ginger beer can take us straight back.”
Images: Seven Dials/ Getty Images