In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe Edmund tells the white witch where she can find his brothers and sisters while cramming his mouth full of Turkish Delight. C. S. Lewis builds up the desirability of this treat by first describing the beautiful package in which it arrives. "The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle onto the snow, and instantly there appeared a round box, tied with green silk ribbon, which, when opened, turned out to contain several pounds of the best Turkish Delight. Each piece was sweet and light to the very center and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious." Of course, everything always tastes better when it is beautifully presented. Also, as Cara Strickland informs us, Turkish Delight was an Edwardian Christmas treat. C. S. Lewis's own childhood memories would have included opening boxes of Turkish Delight under the Christmas tree. The beautifully wrapped box evokes not just gustatory delight, but the whole experience of Christmas.
The sensory appeal of Turkish delight and the moral error of Edward's gluttony would have been intensified for Lewis's readers in the early 1950's by the experience of war time rationing.
I was astounded also by this other image of women rushing a chocolate shop in 1953 when rationing ended. It puts in perspective not just Edward's desire for Turkish delight, but also Roald Dahl's chiding of spoiled post war children in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
When I teach The Chronicles of Narnia, I buy a box of Turkish Delight at our local Middle Eastern Restaurant and food store, The Nazareth Bread Company. Students are always a little mystified by what all the fuss is about when they taste the dessert. To the modern American palate, it is not terribly sweet and has a strangely plastic, unnatural texture.
Caroline is an avid reader, children's writer, and teacher. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and dog. Check out her bio for more!