Literary Eats: Tolkein

As the quest intensifies in The Lord of the Rings, the food becomes scarce and descriptions of it even scarcer, down to water and lembas crumbs at the end.  While hobbits are food-loving creatures, once the Fellowship departs the Shire, meals are not described in great detail, only the comfort and sustenance derived from them.  Yet there are little treasures of domesticity to be found in the Old Forest…

 

A door opened and in came Tom Bombadil.  He had now no hat and his thick brown hair was crowned with autumn leaves.  He laughed, and going to Goldberry, took her hand.

‘Here’s my pretty lady!’ he said, bowing to the hobbits.  ‘Here’s my Goldberry clothed all in silver-green with flowers in her girdle!  Is the table laden?  I see yellow cream and honeycomb, and white bread, and butter; milk, cheese, and green herbs and ripe berries gathered.  Is that enough for us?  Is the supper ready?’

‘It is,’ said Goldberry; ‘but the guests perhaps are not?’

Tom clapped his hands and cried: ‘Tom, Tom!  your guests are tired, and you had near forgotten!  Come now, my merry friends, and Tom will refresh you!  You shall clean grimy hands, and wash your weary faces; cast off your muddy cloaks and comb out your tangles.’

He opened the door, and they followed him down a short passage and round a sharp turn.  They came to a low room with a sloping roof.  Its walls were of clean stone, but they were mostly covered with green hanging mats and yellow curtains.  The floor was flagged, and strew with fresh green rushes.  There were four deep mattresses, each piled with white blankets, laid on the floor along one side.  Against the opposite wall was a long bench laden with wide earthenware basins, and beside it stood brown ewers filled with water, some cold, some steaming hot.  There were soft green slippers set ready beside each bed.

“In the House of Tom Bombadil,” from The Fellowship of the Ring, by J. R. R. Tolkein, George Allen & Unwin Ltd, London, 1966

“In the House of Tom Bombadil” by Anke Eissmann, 1997.

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