My mum is Japanese but she likes Western/European films and literature. So naturally children’s books and films she got for me were mostly Western/European classics (but translated in Japanese), such as Curious George, Barbapapa, The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables. Pippi Longstocking is definitely without a doubt one of my childhood favourites and one of all-time top 5. Having said that, I must to confess that I had never read the book by Astrid Lindgren until now. The Pippi, who sparked mischievous, tomboy nature in me, was from the 1969 film adaptation. I must have been 4 or 5 when I watched the film, so only lingering images of her were her carrot-colour plaits, freckles, and her lifting up her horse by her bare hands.
So, when I read Pippi Longstocking (I’ve got one whimsically illustrated by Lauren Child) for the first time, it was a massive delight to find it was packed with delicious sounding food and Pippi’s love for baking because I’m a baking enthusiast myself. Suddenly I found myself flooded by all those possibilities of what to illustrate for my Food From Books project! But at the end, I picked pancakes and gingersnaps.
When Pippi met Tommy and Annika who lived next door, she invited them to breakfast and made pancakes. What a brilliant way to make friends! But I must say she was the messiest baker I’d ever heard (or rather ‘read’)! She tossed eggs high in the air, caught them in a pan, made the pancake mix in the pan and cooked it. An egg ended up on her head, but that was fine – it’s good for your hair, Pippi said. I can totally imagine how shocked her new friends were. I’m a bit OCD baker so if I see her messy kitchen, I’d be flipped. But (to my surprise) Tommy and Annika thought it was a very good pancake.
I must say Pippi’s hygiene standard is highly questionable. She rolled out gingersnap dough on the kitchen floor. She had a pretty good reasoning though:
‘’Cause can you imagine,’ said Pippi to her little monkey, ‘what earthly good a pastry board would be when you’re going to make at least five hundred ginger-snaps?’”
Actually, beyond logic, how she bakes sounds just so exciting and fun!
The book are about fun stuff those three friends did. They are often associated with food. For example, a coffee time on a tree, a picnic feast (‘delicious little sandwiches with meatballs and ham, a whole stuck of pancakes with sugar, several pieces of little brown sausage, and three pineapple puddings’), a mid-night snack with burglars, and a tea party with ladies! It wonderfully illustrates that food is a big part of childhood. So, reading Pippi Longstocking brought me back many of my childhood memories. The book was a treat!