Edmund's Turkish Delight

May 24, 2017

Edmund's Turkish Delight

“Turkish Delight, please, your Majesty,” said Edmund.
    The Queen let another drop fall from her bottle on to 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 centre and Edmund had never tasted anything more delicious.  CS Lewis - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Turkish Delight might seem like an odd choice today, or perhaps something you have never even heard of before, but in Victorian England, Turkish Delight was the confectionery of choice, and had been originally imported from Turkey.  Although the Victorian confectioners tried to replicate it, it proved very difficult to make, so if you wanted the real deal, it had to be imported from Turkey at great expense.  Only the very rich could afford to do this, so it then became a symbol of your status that you were able to serve the real Turkish Delight to your guests!

Purchase our Edmund's Turkish Delight candle in the shop

If you have tasted Turkish Delight (known in Turkey as Lokum) you will know if you have tasted the good stuff or not.  It should melt in your mouth, if it is chewy then it is not the good stuff!  It's still OK, but it is not how it should be, and you are missing out on the wonderful experience of eating true Turkish Delight as Edmund did.  The flavours now are generally rose and lemon but the real Turkish Delight is made in many other flavours including violet, almond and pistachio.  It is always presented in a hexagonal box, traditionally wood, and the inside is lined with waxed paper, the Turkish Delight resting in the middle, dusted with a combination of icing sugar (confectioner's sugar) and cornflour (corn starch) to stop the pieces sticking together; and there is usually a little wooden fork included so you can select pieces and not get your fingers sticky!   I have made confectionery for years now, and I have of course attempted Turkish Delight with mixed results, and often chewy.  It is a very difficult and delicate process to get it just right, so if you ever get the chance to buy the imported stuff from Turkey, jump at it and taste it how it should be and how it was in the mind of CS Lewis.

Turkish Delight remained popular in Great Britain and became more widely available until the time that the Narnia books were written, at which time sugar was being rationed because of the war (WWII) again making Turkish Delight an impossible indulgence!  So it was clearly in CS Lewis's mind while he was crafting his tale, where it was forever winter and never Christmas, comparing it to the current wartime rationing and hardships - not only sugar was rationed but also wood, so there were no Christmas trees either! So what else would Edmund (or CS Lewis as Edmund) ask for, but Turkish Delight - the most expensive and difficult to obtain/make sweet he could think of!  

There are other reasons too why he might have chosen Turkish Delight; there is an overwhelming Eastern influence contained in the books of Narnia, perhaps because places like Turkey would have been just as exotic and fantastic to the Pevensie children as Narnia itself.  CS Lewis was well read, a historian, and fascinated by other cultures. Tashbaan (The Horse and His Boy) sounds very similar to the city of Tashkent - tash meaning stone.  Prince Caspian is obviously named after the Caspian Sea, and of course the name of the great lion himself, Aslan, is actually an archaic Turkish word for lion!  

*** By the way, sugar rationing continued well after WWII, and did not stop until 1953! 

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

get bookish candle love
in your inbox

Be the first to find out what's happening at Good Book Hunting!