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Fictional Feasts: How to Make Story-Themed Food | Creating Fantasy Menus Inspired by Books

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

When you’re planning an immersive event based on a book or story, serving food from that world goes a long way toward making your space feel real.

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Do you remember, when you were a kid, reading about various meals in your favorite books and wishing you could eat them? When I was about nine, I was obsessed with the descriptions of food in the Little House on the Prairie books, to the point where I actually got hold of a Little House cookbook and tried to make some of the dishes. It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world for a 9-year-old to - you know - make cheese from scratch, but tasting those foods that I had imagined Laura and Mary eating really made me feel like I was in that covered wagon out on the prairie. And to this day I still feel the same way - I actually made the sauteed apples & onions dish that Almanzo loves so much in Farmer Boy and brought it to Thanksgiving a few years ago at my cousin’s house - and the reception was fantastic because her family has actually gone and visited several of Laura’s houses, so they all had the same sentimental affection for Laura and her food. Plus it tasted really good :)

So what do YOU need to know to successfully make and serve refreshments themed to a fictional world? There are three questions you need to answer before you start to plan this part of your event:

  1. What will you serve?

  2. How will you create it?

  3. How will you serve it?

This may sound pretty basic, but if you’ve ever been to a restaurant where you had a bad experience, you know that crummy food and/or crummy service can really ruin your night. Planning the simple, granular details from the ground up will really pay off for you in the end with a flawless product. The reason that excellent restaurants (or parties for that matter), run smoothly and consistently turn out an outstanding experience is that a ton of detailed preparation has been completed beforehand, which allows the final product to seem effortless. And just as an aside, I grew up in the restaurant business, so this I know. As a little kid I used to sit underneath the tables in my family’s restaurant and just watch, and then I worked there as a bus-girl, as a server, in the back office, and then at the Storyteller’s Cottage I hosted a gazillion literary themed events for small and large crowds … so today I can share with you everything I’ve learned and you can learn from my mistakes!

So let’s start with Question number one: WHAT WILL YOU SERVE?

The first choice you’ll make is whether you want to reproduce actual food mentioned in books, or would you rather make something you know is delicious and just give it a book-related name. For example, if you’re planning a Harry Potter event, you could make chocolate frogs and butterbeer, which are obviously mentioned in the books, or you could just make your favorite sweet and sour meatballs and call them Basilisk Balls, or make chocolate dipped orange slices and call them Half Blood Oranges. It’s completely up to you. Your choice here will depend on the specific world you’re trying to build, since some fictional worlds describe their foods in detail and some don’t.

It will also depend on how comfortable you are in the kitchen, how much help you have, and what resources you’re working with. So let’s set this decision aside for a minute and talk about the next two questions you will have to answer before you start to plan.


Your options here, are:

1) Cook it from scratch

2) Buy it from some other source, or

3) Modify store-bought food in your own kitchen to bring it more in line with your theme.

If you’re planning this event at your house, and you have an efficient kitchen, and plenty of time, and you enjoy cooking, you might be excited to find some recipes from your fictional world online or in a themed cookbook and make some of your favorites from scratch.

On the other hand, if this is going to be an offsite event, let’s say something at school or outdoors or somewhere where you don’t have easy access to a kitchen … or maybe you don’t like to cook, or you just don’t have time to put together a five-course meal for ten people … well then you’ll be wanting to find a place to buy the items you need, or … and this is my favorite option … you can buy SOME of the foods you need then modify them at home to fancy them up a bit.