Bartlett and the Ice Voyage, by Odo Hirsch

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‘Some people said that its flesh tasted like spicy currants dipped in honey, while some said it was like spicy honey mixed with currants. Others described it as cinnamon custard with walnut syrup. Others who had eaten it refused to say what it was like, claiming that there was nothing on earth so sweet, smooth and delicious with which it could be compared’

Melidrops. Surely no other literary food can compare with the glory of a melidrop? Odo Hirsch must surely be the king of writing food, from the chocolate rollos in Hazel Green to the limeade in Antonio S. and the Mystery of Theodore Guzman his books are guaranteed to make you feel very hungry all of a sudden. And melidrops are the best.

There is, admittedly, more to this book than melidrops alone. Odo Hirsch’s writing is very distinctive, the worlds he conjures up are unlike any others. Bartlett the explorer, and his trusty companion Jacques le Grand, are sent by the a young Queen to bring a melidrop back to the palace. But melidrops spoil quickly, and in an age before refrigeration, electricity or aeroplanes transporting one that far is virtually impossible. The moral of the story lies both in patience on the part of the queen (who is all too eager to send the dashing but inept Sir Hugh Lough) and the intelligence, desperation and perseverance of the explorers themselves.

One of my favourite things about it it is that there are no real villains as such. Everyone is flawed in their own way, and everyone has their good points too. It’s not good guys vs bad guys, it’s just an adventurous exploration. With lots of good food. All the best adventures involve lots of good food.

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