My son has once again asked for radish soup for dinner. Radish soup is from the fairy tale, Peter Rabbit. A few years ago, I had made the kids radish soup, and it was a hit. Food has been woven into the fabric of fairy tales and nursery rhymes for a long time.

The Brother’s Grimm were impoverished growing up. So, hunger was a large part of life, and it translated to many of their tales. In other tales and rhymes, food was a part of the social fabric such as tea parties; like Alice in Wonderland and Mother Goose’s Queen of Heart’s tarts.

Food has taken starring roles like the bread and candy house in Hansel and Grethel, the Gingerbread Man, Hot Cross Buns, the pea in the Princess and the Pea, as well as the Porridge in the Goldilocks. There are also many instances where the main characters are viewed as food. Little Red Riding Hood, the Three Little Pigs, and Jack and the Beanstalk fit that bill. Who could ever forget “fee fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.” as the giant looks for dinner.

And then there is food that has a major effect on the story — such as the apple in snow white, and the theft of rampion (salad greens) that leads to Rapunzel’s kidnapping. A pumpkin was food that transported Cinderella to and from the ball.

Although it is hard to find recipes directly in the stories, the one for the cake in Alice in Wonderland would be hard to duplicate. When making the movie, Alice in Wonderland, they were going to include a recipe for the cake that made her grow and shrink. Supposedly it is two cups of flower, cup of sugar, pinch of fungus, worm fat, tongue of blow fish, pinch of thyme, 3 coins from a dead man’s pocket and two tablespoons of wishful thinking.

The radish soup is easier.

Radish Soup

2 Tablespoons butter

½ cup diced onion

1 pound radishes sliced

1 medium potato peeled and cubed

1 cup chicken or vegetable stock

2 cups milk or cream

1 teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon pepper

Pinch of dill

Sour cream, optional

Sweat onion and ¾ pound of radishes in butter until onions are translucent. Add cream, stock, potato, salt and pepper. Simmer until potato is tender. Puree soup with immersion blender or in processor until smooth.

Blanch the remaining radishes in boiling water for a minute, strain. Add blanched radishes and dill. Add a dollop of sour cream if desired.

Porridge is in several fairy tales and nursery rhymes. Porridge is a hot cereal mde from grains, vegetables and legumes. Peas are a legume and lends to a more popular nursery rhyme “Peas Porridge Hot” It can also be made from corn like polenta, mush and grits. It is also made from rice(congee), farro, buckwheat and the list goes on. It’s most commonly heated in water or milk until it’s soft.. From there, the possibilities are endless because of what can be added to the porridge.

Simple Porridge

Cup of pinhead or steel cut oats

2 cups milk

½ teaspoon cinnamon

In saucepan, bring milk to almost a boil. Sprinkle oats over milk, while stirring, until fully incorporated. Bring to just a boil and then lower to a simmer. Cook covered for 20-25 minutes, stirring often. The cooking time can be varied. Shorter cooking time will result in thinner, more chewy porridge. Longer cooking will be thicker and creamier. In this porridge recipe, the cooking time can be varied a bit, depending on how thick and creamy you want your porridge to be. When finished add fruits, sugar, yogurt, granola etc. to give your porridge a signature.

You can’t have recipes from tales and rhymes without including the Gingerbread man. You can go to Drury Lane or make your own.

Gingerbread man

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoon ground ginger

1 ½ teaspoon allspice

¼ cup butter

½ cup brown sugar

1 medium egg

1/3 cup molasses

1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix dry together in bowl, set aside

Beat butter and brown sugar until creamy, add egg, molasses and vanilla one at a time. Mix together dry ingredients and batter until incorporated. Wrap and chill for a few hours or overnight. Let dough rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes. Roll out to ¼” and cut out your men. Bake for 7-10 minutes in 375 degree preheated oven. Makes 2 dozen 4” gingerbread men.

Warning: Keep in mind that if you sing nursery rhymes while cooking, it is very hard to get them out of your head. So pick a good one, so you are able to stand that earworm.

Chef Joe Carei has been an award-winning chef in Fayette County nearly half of his life. The former PA Restaurateur of the Year now operates Ellie Mae’s Catering and Food Clubs. He can be reached at

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