Доклад: Food and Drink in literature
Food and Drink. These words have always been considered as something
important in our daily life. Everybody likes fresh drinks at summer, warm
drinks at winter. We always care about what we’re going to serve on our table
to treat ourselves, or our guests. But we hardly ever think about the meaning
of food and drink in the literature, whatever it may be – prose or poetry.
So what is the meaning of food in compositions of different authors? How
drinks can show us the point of the poems we read?
To answer these questions I would like to address two authors – Anne Frank
and Thomas Moore. I would like to start with analyzing food. For this purpose
I am going to use Anne Frank’s book “The Diary Of A Young Girl”. It was 1942
and Germans had invaded. All Jewish people were frightened for their lives
and the Frank family decided to hide. Life was dangerous but they hoped for
the best, until they were finally discovered. This is the diary of Anne
Frank, where she describes all details of living in so-called “Secret
Annexe”. Of course, the food is included to this description.
First reference to food appears after about a month of hiding. “Well, what
about food in the Annexe? A man brings bread every day, a very nice friend of
Mr Kleiman’s. And we’ve stored a hundred tins of food here”. “.we’ve also
bought three hundred pounds of beans”. As days went by, members of “Secret
Annexe” had fewer opportunities to get food. Every single possibility to get
food encouraged a sense of joy. “The Annexe was delighted to hear that we are
all getting an extra quarter pound of butter for Christmas. We are each going
to cook something with butter”. Little amount of food encourages a sense of
greed. “We are sharing our butter a different way now. Everyone gets their
own piece on their own plate. But it’s not done right – the van Daans make
breakfast for everyone, and give themselves the biggest share of the butter”.
Soon the food gets “terrible”. “We have plain bread and coffee – not real
coffee – for breakfast. We have lettuce or green vegetables, and bad potatoes
and that’s all”.
When people don’t have problems with anything (including food), they don’t
seem to worry about that. And it is natural, of course. People don’t even
estimate that. Food is just usual thing for them. When we have deficiency of
things, whatever they may be, we act like happy children when we finally have
an opportunity to get it. “Yesterday was Dussel’s birthday. He pretended that
he wasn’t interested, but when Miep arrived with a large bag of presents from
his friends, he was as excited as a child! He had chocolate, eggs, butter,
oranges and books. He arranged them on the table and left them there for
three days, the silly old fool! He already has plenty of food. We found
bread, cheese, jam and eggs in his cupboard. He hasn’t given us anything, but
we’ve shared everything with him”.
Reading this story we can see how the main character was unhappy about the
food they had to eat. And it is understandable. “The food is awful. Lunch
today is potatoes and some very old vegetables out of bottles. They smell
terrible, which is why I have the handkerchief! We’ve got to eat them too – I
feel sick when I think about it! Half potatoes have gone bad, and we have to
throw them away. If life here was pleasant, the food would not matter so
much. But it’s the fourth year of the war, and we are all in bad moods”.
Here, in last two sentences, we can see that sometimes food doesn’t even
matter! Life rules. I guess most of us would prefer good life rather than
Now one more example of birthday during the war: “Today is Mr van Daan’s
birthday. He received several presents and a cake. The cake wasn’t perfect,
because we can’t buy the right things to make it with, but it tasted
Food during the war became just a source of getting energy, no more. People
forgot about delicious food, just to treat themselves. In this connection let
us turn to one description of food those terrible days, which shows us all
the details: “I’m going to describe our food rations: Food is a difficult and
important problem not only for us in the Annexe, but for everyone in Holland,
all of Europe and even further away. We’ve lived here for twenty-one months,
and often at any one time there was only one kind of food to eat. For
example, one kind of vegetable or salad. We would eat it with potatoes, in
every possible way that we could think of. But now there are no vegetables
at all. We have potatoes, and brown beans. We make soup – we still have some
packets and stores to make dishes which are a little bit more interesting.
But it’s beans with everything, even in bread. The most exciting moment is
when we eat a thin piece of sausage once a week, and put some jam on our
bread – no butter, of course! But we’re still alive, and much of the time the
food tastes good too”.
The last mention of food appears to us when we read about events happening on 5
th of June 1944: “The are new problems in the Annexe now. There’s a
quarrel between Dussel and Franks. We can’t agree how to share out the butter”.
Time during the war was very hard to survive in. We can see it by the reading
this story by Anne Franks. Description of food shows us how much difficult it
was it get it.
Now let us turn on to the theme of Drinks. For this purpose I’ve decided to
use compositions of famous Irish poet Thomas Moore. Irish people themselves
like drinking a lot. Nowadays their favorite drink is beer I guess. Having
read some pieces of Moore’s poetry I understood that it was wine earlier. So
let’s now analyze meaning of this drink in the poetry of Thomas Moore.
“Come, send round the wine”.
“Come, send round the wine, and leave points of belief
To simpleton sages, and reasoning fools;
This moment ‘s a flower too fair and brief,
To be withered and stained by the dust of the schools’.
Here wine appears as a symbol of enjoyment and lighthearted attitude towards
this life. Author tells us not to be maybe even serious, but just take this
life as it is, not to worry about the future. If we followed this
‘commandment’ I think we would live unconcerned about what will happen, until
something would happen! But here Thomas Moore stresses upon brevity of life.
We can find the following idea: don’t think about the future, life is too
short, live the present moment, enjoy yourself. Wine has always been a symbol
of joy, but sometimes it can even be a sign of sadness. Here wine certainly
plays part of thing that brings pleasure to man.
“Fill the bumper fair”.
“Fill the bumper fair!
Every drop we sprinkle
O’er the brow of Care
Smooths away a wrinkle.
Wit’s electric flame
Ne’er so swiftly passes,
As when thro’ the frame
It shoots from brimming glasses.
Fill the bumper fair!
Every drop we sprinkle
O’er the brow of Care
Smooths away a wrinkle”.
Here the author emphasizes on ‘healing’ function of wine. People can forget
about all their problems if they drink wine, here it is like medicine, which
help us to recover not from the physical pain, but a ‘spiritual’ one.
“Wrinkle” here is a symbol of sadness, worry or disappointment. So wine helps
us to “smooth” this “wrinkle”. That means not dealing with the problem, but
just healing the soul for some time. The poet shows us that every time we
feel unhappy we can just “fill the bumper fair” and all our problems will
leave us, we will be in a good mood. Look, doesn’t it solve our problems?
Everybody thinks of his or her own answer. People are different and it
depends whether person wants to leave his problems in the cup with wine, or
just continue solving it till it’s done.
“Take Hence The Bowl” (Neapolitan Air)
“Take hence the bowl; - tho’ beaming
Brightly as bowl e’er shone,
Oh, it but sets me dreaming
Of happy days now gone.
There, in its clear reflection,
As in a wizard’s glass,
Lost hopes and dead affection,
Like shades, before me pass.
Each cup I drain brings hither
Some scene of bliss gone by;-
Bright lips too bright to wither,
Warm hearts too warm to die.
Till, as the dream comes o’er me
Of those long vanished years,
Alas, the wine before me
Seems turning all to tears!”
The meaning of wine here appears different from the two poems before. It
shows us that wine can be not only the symbol of enjoyment, healing the soul,
but also the symbol of sadness, even suffering, I think. It can’t be harder
than thinking about the time passed, “happy days now gone”. Being young,
people try everything this life can bring. They live happy life, spend time
visiting different places, having parties (or balls), drinking wine, and
eating different kinds of food. Yes, youth can afford it. But when the time
for being old comes, all this stuff doesn’t bring that joy any more. The only
thing old people have is reminisce.
In this particular poem this reminisce appears to us in kind of sad form. And
this line “the wine before me seems turning all to tears!” shows us the tears
of nostalgia for old good days.
So, having analyzed some pieces of literature, we can see that the meaning of
food and drink was really important and it played a great role in showing us
the point of these pieces of literature.