Real vegetarian food, served in an imaginary world...

Wednesday 14 November 2018

FIVE GO DOWN TO THE SEA - A Meal for a Cornish Holiday

The Famous Five books are full of references to food.

This week, five - four humans and a dog, of course - have gone down to the sea.

It is appropriate, therefore, that we had a meal described in Enid Blyton's twelfth Famous Five novel, from 1953, where they visit Cornwall and encounter wreckers:

The high tea that awaited them was truly magnificent. A huge ham gleaming as pink as Timmy’s tongue; a salad fit for a king. In fact, as Dick said, fit for several kings, it was so enormous. It had in it everything that anyone could possibly want. “Lettuce, tomatoes, onions, radishes, mustard and cress, carrot grated up – that is carrot, isn’t it, Mrs. Penruthlan?” said Dick. “And lashings of hard-boiled eggs.” There was an enormous tureen of new potatoes, all gleaming with melted butter, scattered with parsley. There was a big bottle of home-made salad cream. “Look at that cream cheese, too,” marvelled Dick, quite overcome. “And that fruit cake."

As this is a vegetarian meal, we were never going to eat a ham which 'gleams' like Timmy's/ Archie's tongue. There is now, however, a whole range of vegetarian substitutes. I chose a Quorn roast and some vegetarian ham-style slices.

Hard boiled eggs were easy to include. 

Our usual cream cheese is defined as "a soft fresh cheese made from milk and cream" and from my research it looks as though this was the same as in 1953, although 'Philadelphia' probably wasn't synonymous with it back then, but to replicate the meal Dick described, I placed a wedge of it on the table along with some Brie.

Then I added the same accompaniments as those mentioned in 1953:


green lettuce leaves
2 medium onions
3 medium tomatoes
6 small radishes
1 carrot
handful of mustard and cress leaves

Rinse and dry the lettuce. Then shred the leaves. Place in the bottom of the bowl.
Peel and slice the onion.  Wash and slice the tomatoes and radishes. Mix together and add to the bowl.
Peel and grate the carrot on top.
Sprinkle the mustard and cress over the bowl.


2 free-range eggs, hard-boiled, yolks only
2 tbsp mustard
Juice of half a lemon
1 tbsp caster sugar
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
150ml/5fl oz double cream  
150ml/5fl oz olive oil
Pinch of salt

Take the yolks from the eggs and place in a bowl.
Add all of the other ingredients, apart from the oil and salt, and mix well, passing through a sieve if necessary to remove any lumps.
Then gradually add the oil, stirring well until the salad cream is smooth and emulsified. Then season with the salt.

For new potatoes, all gleaming with melted butter, scattered with parsley, see New Potatoes. When served, place knobs of butter on top and sprinkle over the parsley.

The meal also included fruit cake, so it would be rude to omit it.


225g/ 8oz self raising flour
110g/ 4oz butter, chilled and cubed
110g/ 4oz sugar
225g/ 8oz mixed fruit
1 egg, whisked
5tbsp milk

Sieve the flour into a bowl and then rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs.

Then add the fruit, milk and sugar and stir everything together.

Place in lined 6” round cake tin and smooth the top.

Cook at 180°C/ 350°F Gas 4 for about 1hr to 1¼ hours. It is cooked when a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

And what did we wash it all down with?


  1. What a yummy looking lunch (especially if somewhere down by the sea)! I am unfamiliar with the "Famous Five" series, but it looks charming too!

    1. Thanks Greg. Sorry for the delay in seeing this. The Famous Five books are great - full of fun and frolics in a different age. It was great to recreate one of the meals.