It was a rainy day in San Francisco. It had been raining on and off for days, but the rain still felt fresh and new, like a portent of things soon to be born. And though the skyscrapers and subways of my city are a far cry from the ivory walls of Minas Tirith or the rural pace and comfort of Shire life, there seemed to be a sort of synchronicity in the air between life here on this planet in the 21st century and that of the Third Age of Middle Earth. It may have had something to do with the fact that my roommate and I were at the Farmer’s Market at the Ferry Building, scouting for things that hobbits like to eat. We found honeycombs and dried fruits, and cheeses with ingredients like apricots, caramelized onions, pistachios and wild mushrooms. I also bought grape leaves to substitute for the mallorn leaves that lembas is wrapped in. For those of you who aren’t quite as nerdy as I am, lembas is a bread-like food made by the Elves of Lothlórien that is known to be extremely filling and nutritious. Samwise and Frodo subsist on it during their entire trek from Rauros Falls to Orodruin, or Mount Doom, in Mordor. That night, I semi-dried the grape leaves and then, the next morning, I wrapped them around some vaguely lembas-shaped crackers. I thought they looked quite authentic:
And then, once they were wrapped and presented on a plate with some pistachio-encrusted goat cheese, the effect was complete.
The next morning, before Frodo Fest started for the elevensies meal, I went to my local bakery and bought a freshly-baked loaf of sourdough. I considered baking my own bread, but then I opted to bake something else instead, and since the sourdough at Devil’s Teeth bakery is sooo good, it wasn’t a loss by any count.
In addition to the cheeses and honeycomb, I bought some smoked salmon. Unlike everything else, this wasn’t expressly mentioned in The Lord of the Rings but there was a certain character whom I thought would have definitely enjoyed it, though he wouldn’t have touched the lembas. Not sure who it could be? Let me give you a hint:
Alive without breath;
as cold as death;
never thirsting, ever drinking;
clad in mail, never clinking.
Drowns on dry land,
thinks an island
is a mountain;
thinks a fountain
is a puff of air.
So sleek, so fair!
What a joy to meet!
We only wish
to catch a fish,
Yesss, you gots it, my precious! Gollum! Gollum! I thought that Gollum should have a place at Frodo Fest considering that he was, once, something like a hobbit. Poor Sméagol.
Though for this meal I mostly bought everything, I did make one thing that I thought might very well be found in a hobbit’s pantry or at Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday party. It was a blackberry goat cheese tart, and the recipe came from the blog Pastry Affair.
With a little honey drizzled over it and some basil leaves sprinkled on top, this tart was the perfect bit of sweetness to top off our rustic Shire-meal. And, although we stuck to tea as many of us had had rough nights the night before and eleven seemed very early, I had bought a beer called Le Fin du Monde and Barefoot wine. You know, because hobbits are always barefoot so as to be light on their feet. Duh. Unfortunately, the only thing lacking that would be sorely missed at any hobbit repast was Longbottom Leaf. But other than that, I think Frodo Fest was a success, and at least one person recognized the lembas for what it was.
And so, here ends my second, but hardly my last, journey through Middle Earth. That is, until I read The Hobbit. But for the next entry, I’m moving back into our world and the Roaring 20’s with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. Thanks for reading!