The Hungry Reader: Hobbits, Mushrooms and Bacon

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

What would Hungry Reader month be without a reference to J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits and their everlasting love of mushrooms? The small, homey people in those books have an enormous love of food that far outsizes their miniature frames. A proper breakfast is one of their great loves, and mushrooms and bacons are chief among their passions. Here’s a favorite excerpt…

The hobbits have set off on their epic quest, but with a shortcut first through a decidedly prosaical field of mushrooms. They run into the mushroom farmer, who feeds them a supper of mushrooms.

In a short while fourteen sat down to eat. There was beer in plenty, and a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon, besides much other solid farmhouse fare.

After a narrow brush with the frightening riders in the dark, the farmer sends them off with a gift.

Suddenly he produced a large basket from under the seat. “I was nearly forgetting,” he said. “Mrs. Maggot put this up for Mr. Baggins, with her compliments.” He handed it down and moved off, followed by a chorus of thanks and good-nights.

They watched the pale rings of light round his lanterns as they dwindled into the foggy night. Suddenly Frodo laughed: from the covered basket he held, the scent of mushrooms was rising.

When they reach safety again their friend Fredegar fries up the mushrooms – enough for all.

“I suppose you three won’t want mushrooms again?” said Fredegar without much hope.

“Yes we shall!” cried Pippin.

“They’re mine!” said Frodo. “Given to me by Mrs. Maggot, a queen among farmers’ wives. Take your greedy hands away, and I’ll serve them.”

Hobbits have a passion for mushrooms, surpassing even the greediest likings of Big People. A fact which partly explains young Frodo’s long expeditions to the renowned fields of the Marish, and the wrath of the injured Maggot. On this occasion there was plenty for all, even according to hobbit standards.
We are not hobbits, but we love mushrooms and bacon too. A favorite quiche recipe includes well-browned mushrooms and deliciously savory bits of bacon. Yesterday we fried up a batch of mushrooms to go with Easter lamb, letting them brown well before stirring, and flavoring with garlic and onions. You really can’t go wrong with mushrooms’ meaty, umami flavor – they make everything delicious.

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The Lord of the Rings, $13.60 at Amazon
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