What Enid Blyton Ate: The Secret Island

What Enid Blyton Ate celebrates food in the Blyton-verse by listing all the scrumptiousness a particular book describes.

Since I spent a large part of my childhood reading Enid Blyton books, I thought I was pretty well-read when it came to her canon. It’s only now that I’ve discovered how many of her books I haven’t even touched, and how many more I haven’t even heard of. I think reading all the Enid Blyton books that exist is a pretty achievable life goal, though.

The Secret Island is one of those books I discovered only in adulthood. I was in a reading slump a couple of weeks ago; well, it only lasted for 3 days, and I didn’t stop reading longform articles online, but that still counts as a slump for someone who otherwise always has her nose buried in a book. And I should have known a Blyton book was the best cure. I enjoyed it so much even at 24 that I’m almost disappointed 8-year-old me didn’t get to experience the book too.

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The children gazed at one another in glee. A house of wood, built by themselves – and a cave! How lucky they were to have a friend like Jack, who had a boat and a secret island.

The book features four children who run away from a bunch of unpleasant relatives and set up home on a deserted island. Which, luckily, provides plenty of exciting glimpses at food (not that Blyton ever needed an excuse).

  • They went back to the little landing-place, hungry and happy. They sat down and ate their bread and ham, carrots and peas, cherries and lettuces, and cake. It was the loveliest meal they had ever had in their lives, they thought.
  • Peggy ran off up the hill and down the other side to the spring. She filled the kettle and went back. The others had put out enamel mugs ready to drink from. Mike was busy looking out for something to eat, too. He had put out a loaf of bread, some young carrots, which they all loved to nibble, a piece of cheese each, and a cake. What a meal that was!
  • The children were hungry gain. They got out the rest of the cakes, and finished up the bread, eating some peas with it, which they shelled as they ate.
    “Are we going to have any supper?” asked Mike.
    “We might have a cup of cocoa each and a piece of my cake,” said Jack. “We must be careful not to eat everything at once that we’ve brought, or we’ll go short! I’ll do some fishing tomorrow.”
  • Soon all four children were up and about. Jack made them take off their things and have a dip in the lake. It was simply lovely, but the water felt cold at first. When they had dried themselves on an old sack – for they had no towels – the children felt terribly hungry. But Jack had been busy. He had set his fishing-line, and, even as they bathed, he had seen the float jerk up and down. It was not long before Jack proudly laid four fine trout on the sand of the cove, and set about to make a fire to cook them.
    Mike went to fill the kettle to make some tea. Peggy got some big potatoes out of the sack and put them almost in the fire to cook in their skins. Jack found the frying-pan in their storeroom and put a piece of margarine in it to dry the fish, which he knew exactly how to clean.
    “I don’t know what we should do without you,” said Mike, as he watched Jack. “Goodness! How I shall enjoy my breakfast!”
  • “I want something to eat,” said Nora. “I’m so hungry that I feel I could eat snails!”
    “Well, get out four eggs and we’ll have some with potatoes,” said Jack. “We’ll boil the eggs in our saucepan. There’s plenty of potatoes, too. After the eggs are boiled, we’ll boil some potatoes and mash them up. That will be nice for a change. We’ll nibble a few carrots, too, and have some of those cherries.”
    “We do have funny meals,” said Peggy. “but I do like them!”
  • Alas! There was no fish that night!
    “There’s some bread left and a packet of currants,” said Peggy. “And some lettuces and margarine. Shall we have those?”
    “This food question is going to be a difficult one,” said Jack thoughtfully. “We’ve plenty of water – we shall soon have a house – but we must have food or we shall starve. I shall catch rabbits, I think.”
  • “I’m so hungry and thirsty now that I believe I could eat all the food we’ve got!” said Mike at last.
    “Yes, we really must have something to eat,” said Jack. “We’ve got plenty of bread and potatoes and vegetables. Let’s cook some broad beans. They are jolly good. Go and look at my fishing-like, Mike, and see if there are any fish on it.”
    There was a fine trout, and Mike brought it back to cook. Soon the smell of frying rose on the air, and the children sniffed hungrily. Fish, potatoes, bread, beans, cherries, and cocoa with milk from one of Jack’s tins. What a meal!
  • Nora made her way through the raspberry canes, round the side of the hill, through the heather and bracken and down to the beach, where all the others were. Peggy had got the fire going well, and was cooking a rabbit that Jack had produced.
    “Where are the raspberries?” asked Jack. “Oh, you’ve got a basketful! Good! Go and skim the cream off the milk in that bowl over there, Nora. Put it into a jug and bring it back. There will be plenty for all of us.”
    Soon they were eating their dinner. Peggy was certainly a good little cook. But the nicest of all were the sweet juicy raspberries with thick yellow cream poured all over them. How the children did enjoy them!
  • Jack got a good deal of fruit and a regular amount of potatoes and turnips from his grandfather’s farm, which still had not been sold. There was always enough to eat, for there were eggs, rabbits, and fish, and Daisy gave them more than enough milk to drink.
    Their seeds grew quickly. It was a proud day when Peggy was able to cut their first batch of mustard and cress and the first lettuce and mix it  into a salad to eat with hard-boiled eggs! The radishes, too, tasted very good, and were so hot that even Jack’s eyes watered when he ate them! Things grew amazingly well and quickly on the island.
  • The wild raspberries ripened by the hundred. Wild strawberries began to appear in the shady parts of the island – not tiny ones, such as the children had often found round about the farm, but big, sweet, juicy ones, even nicer than garden ones. They tasted most delicious with cream. The blackberries grew ripe on the bushes that rambled all over the place, and the children’s mouths were always stained with them, for they picked them as they went about their various jobs.
  • “Mushrooms!” said Jack, in delight, pointing to where to or three grew. “Look – fresh new ones, only grown up last night. Come on! Fill the sack!”
    There were scores in the field. Jack picked the smaller ones, for he knew the bigger ones did not taste so nice and might have maggots in them. In half an hour their sack was full and they slipped away through the sunny fields to where they had moored their boat.
    “What a breakfast we’ll have!” grinned Jack. And they did! Fried mushrooms and fried eggs, wild strawberries and cream!

 

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