Growing up at a time sans the internet, Enid Blyton and her books that we grew up reading, gifted one an inquisitive appetite. With an indigenous array of baked goodies and exotic savories, she gave us the joy of reading a food blog or finding solace in the ‘Tasty’ videos for our post-lunch cravings. It helped us frame our own versions of the scintillating baked delicacies however exotic they were. They might not seem as exotic now as it was a decade ago, considering the amount of exposure to food culture we have in these days.
Every time I come across a typical English flavour there is an overwhelming sense of familiarity, thanks to the umpteen numbers of picnics and midnight parties we were a part of, reading Blyton’s novels. I bet it was every girl’s dream to host a midnight party in the hostel with lemonade, ginger beer, buttered scones, shortbread, and fruit cakes like how it happened in St.Clare’s or at Malory towers. Creating my own versions of tomato sandwiches and hard boiled eggs with a dish of salt to dip it in were small joys I had living in a small town, far from Blyton’s England. All we had were cakes and buns, which I was greeted with on some evenings afterschool. Peeping in and devouring a piece straight out of the oven made me victorious like the famous five or secret seven as I took a bite reading their adventures and eating my cake while they ate their scones. That was the only time when cravings never hit me. It felt like taking revenge on somebody who exposed one to an exotic plethora of delicacies that one living in the Indian subcontinent could have never dreamt of.
But it wasn’t just her sunny descriptions of bizarre food that made children love her books, no, it was the magic that bubbled playfully beneath the surface. Even in her adventure stories, there was always a hint of magic, of something so grand and mysterious, hidden between the lines. It made the reader feel like they were on the threshold of something amazing, peering through a window at a world they could see but could not touch.
It’s been more than 50 years since Blyton’s demise, but her books continue to be loved and cherished all over the world. Not many children’s writers have been able to reach the heights she did with her writing, not just in terms of imagination but also in her prolific portfolio, with more than 700 titles to her name.