I seriously doubt that there are any creatures, anywhere, as sweet and as loveable as the hobbits of the Shire. Sweet songs, sweet heroes and heroines, sweet sweetness. The meal table did not miss out on the love either, as the effervescent halflings were known to be keen on a nibble or five. We join the hobbits in the kitchen and explore all corners of their unsurprisingly surprising menu.
The immense appetites of the tiny hobbits were catered for by a meal timetable that closely resembles the classic British schedule. Breakfast then a second breakfast. Followed by “Elevenses”. Then luncheon, naturally. Afternoon tea, dinner, and supper completed the day’s meal schedule.
The books specify six meal times whereas the films include an additional breakfast to make seven.
Those who wish to feast like Frodo Baggins and his comrades might have to drastically restock their pantries because “feast” is almost an understatement. The reality is these creatures were ravenous, insatiable little munchkins, who were not shy to scoop extra dollops of the left-over mashed potatoes while everybody slept.
Several meals a day, a broad palette of inescapable flavors and smells beginning at 7 a.m. up until 9 p.m. We take our tastebuds on an epic journey.
What do you eat for breakfast?
The first “most important” meal of the day is breakfast. This gets the hobbits warmed up, as they come off their longest stretch without eating. A balanced day-to-day menu sees the hairy toed sleepy heads load up on carbohydrates and a little protein. Sweets and jams frequently punctuate the meals, which are often accompanied by a hot beverage as well.
Even for hobbits, breakfast is not exceptionally spectacular, usually, although honey nut cake is a common threat. The marmalade is on standby of course. Some days are greeted with a savory mini quiche packed with a cheesy, bacon, or vegetable surprise inside. Other mornings call for the more balanced staple “Hobbit hash”, a Shire classic dish made with potatoes, spinach, cheese, and the finest, most nutritious, leeks in Middle-earth.
For those of a spicier disposition, there is a scrumptious ham omelet, featuring fresh Shire onions, fiery tomatoes, and the chef’s choice of curry spices. Alternatively, the hobbits loved freshly baked biscuits, complemented by boiled or scrambled egg and steamy sausage with a generous helping of rich gravy.
Hobbit breakfast is rather early and begins at 7 a.m.
What do you eat for a second breakfast?
It is best to think of a second breakfast as a “backup” to the earlier meal. Much like first breakfast, the second most important meal of the day is just a provocative teaser of what is to come later. A glorified 9 a.m. snack, really, with more baked goodies and pastries than the preceding meal. Strangely though, meats feature prominently too, as we shall see.
Hobbits will make any excuse to include scones in pretty much any mealtime. They just cannot get enough of them, especially when glazed in rich clotted cream. Other mornings see the hobbits partake in breakfast pie. A common recipe features leeks, eggs, cream, and salmon. A simpler, and quicker, a meal for the hobbit-on-the-go is strawberry French toast with a chunky piece of sausage.
Another popular second attempt at “breaking the fast” was rice pudding, often served with a side of bacon and a smile. If that was not your vibe that morning there was bread with butter and honey, as well as bacon and some fruit. Not bad so far.
What do you eat for Elevenses?
Yes, the mid-morning tea-break invented by the British leads one to question how they, or the hobbits, managed to get anything done. Something was always cooking, and elevenses was crucial for parachuting the hobbits safely to lunch, an agonizing two hours later. Some individuals might be inclined to label this meal a “continental breakfast” due to the menu options being relatively compatible with coffee or tea.
Also known as Waybread, Elven lembas bread gained a massive following way beyond the Elf kingdoms. This was due to its nutritional density, and magical filling properties. Legolas once told Merry and Pippin that one small bite could keep a fully grown man satiated “all day long”. The bread is also incredibly storable and preserves its freshness for several months, provided it is kept within the mallorn leaves it was customarily wrapped in. These attributes make the wafer-like lembas the ultimate Middle-earth travel snack for very long journeys where meals are not guaranteed. Hobbits have taken full advantage of this magical food throughout the Ages. Frodo and Sam would never have survived the arduous quest to Mount Doom without the sustenance provided by lembas bread. Less heroic hobbits simply enjoy putting Legolas’s assertion to the test during Elevenses.
Elevenses is also when one might come across the nutty caraway seed cake, a solid companion for a steaming cup of sugar-free black coffee. In fact, cakes are the stars of this mealtime, with lemon tea cake no stranger to proceedings. Another special treat available at Elevenses is strawberry shortcake, a hobbit specialty with many different, and creative, iterations throughout Shire kitchens. The most popular ones often involve a side of cream to cap off a mid-morning delight.
Muffins are not neglected at Elevenses either. Various types are enjoyed by the hobbits, who are not unimaginative bakers. Lavender and lemon muffins are arguably the most popular variety among the hobbits. No doubt the smell of a freshly baked batch cooling off by the kitchen window attracted many a sticky finger.
As the name suggests, Elevenses was at 11 a.m.
What do you eat for Luncheon?
Lunch was often when the real eating began, with all the pomp and about-the-bush-beating of the morning meals temporarily placed on hold. Large hot meals were usually the order of lunchtimes all across the Shire. An overall balanced diet was dotted with a multitude of grains, vegetables, fish, meats, and much more. The hobbits were fond of a bit of ale or wine too, and lunch presented the day’s first respectable opportunity to loosen up for more lubricated conversation.
Every LOTR and Hobbit fan knows that shepherd’s pie is one of the most common dishes in the Shire, and it features as the centerpiece of Bilbo Baggins’ 111th birthday feast in The Fellowship of the Ring. It is a frequent choice for many at lunchtime as well and goes nicely with a cool ale or rich dinner red wine.
Like the British in real life, the hobbits do not mind a bit of fish and chips. As expert fishermen, they took full advantage of the Brandywine River and served up a plethora of nutrient-packed freshwater fish such as salmon, hake, and trout. A straightforward dish to accommodate the fussier eaters. Roast mutton was also another safe bet if hobbits were hosting picky eaters.
Other days saw the hobbits prepare scotch eggs for lunch, a further highlight of their penchant for finger foods.
Often in leaner times, the hobbits would settle for plain potato and onion soup. The Shire was a haven for growing potatoes, with rich loamy soils throughout the region. This allowed the hobbits to get creative with potato dishes and further expand the lunch menu.
Lunchtime was typically at 1 p.m.
What do you eat for Afternoon Tea?
The late afternoon was often when most hobbits took a break from their work in the fields to convene for gossip, a time-honored hobbit pastime. The halflings loved a chat, especially if the subject was other Hobbits or anyone else for that matter. That was the primary purpose of afternoon tea, the most community-oriented of the hobbit meal times. It took place around 3 p.m. and was characterized by a selection of sweet pastries, cakes, and cookies served with coffee, tea, or mead.
Preparing mixed berry cobbler was one of the surest ways to attract interesting guests with even more interesting stories. The smell from the succulent shire berries tickled the sensitive nostrils of all hobbits who roamed nearby.
Bakewell tarts were a prominent menu item at afternoon tea. The jam covered pastry shell was a real point of weakness for the little hobbits, who would pick them apart as keenly as they did other people’s private lives.
Another late afternoon indulgence in the Shire was berry pie, which was frequently brought over to neighbors as a peace offering or during times of grievance such as funeral wakes.
Other hobbits preferred ring cookies on some days as well. Various iterations were baked and served with many different condiments and creams.
The hobbits were also big fans of the classic American combination of warm apple pie and cream. Afternoon tea, as a community activity, was a sort of competitive atmosphere where many households competed for the unofficial title of best apple pie in the shire. Grab yourself a slice and a beer, turn up that Bruce Springsteen playlist, and enjoy the halfling rodeo.
What do you eat for Dinner?
Much like, lunch, dinnertime was when the hobbits partook in a large hearty meal that exploited the full range of halfling culinary skills. Dinner was generally the biggest meal of the day and was characterized by a balanced diet of food groups with rich flavors. The meals listed below were often served with cheese and various bread. Ale and wine pitchers were also common at hobbit dinner tables.
Cottage pie, also known as shepherd’s pie could also be consumed at dinner and it was just as popular then as it was at lunchtime. The potato-rich Shire ensured that potatoes featured heavily in the hobbit’s diets. This, in turn, guaranteed that cottage pie was always around the corner somewhere in the Shire.
The hobbits enjoyed spicy food just as much as anyone else. It is no surprise, then, that dinner time could take one’s tastebuds on a curry fuelled joy ride. One such dish was spiced beef served with roasted vegetables. As this list progresses, it becomes clearer that the hobbits’ appetite for meat is a somewhat under-discussed topic. However, there was no room for discussion when a hobbit was left one on one with a spicy steak after a long hard day in the fields.
Cheddar soup was also served at dinner time on occasion. It could be made in different styles and often featured potatoes, broccoli, and other vegetables. A healthy end to a healthy day.
With more beef than a hip-hop award show parking lot, the hobbits were also known to serve excellently grilled pepper-crusted steaks. The beef would often be combined with various potato servings, as well as with mushrooms, mixed vegetables, and balsamic vinegar.
Another dinner time meal option was savory porridge, often served with a runny poached egg and decorated with courgette and grated parmesan cheese.
Dinner was not just limited to the above meal options, though, as the hobbits had many different recipes depending on the availability and seasonality of certain ingredients. The hobbits of the Shire often had dinner at 6 p.m.
What do you eat for supper?
In most households in the real world, the idea of “dinner” and “supper” being two separate things entirely is rather unusual. However, the creatures in Tolkien’s universe eat “unusual” for breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. Or supper.
A pork pie is many hobbits’ go-to last meal of the day. It is pretty quick and easy to prepare, and its filling nature was usually enough to see a hobbit through the night until the next morning’s breakfast. The mushroom soup was an even quicker meal choice for this time too, as it could be prepared and served within minutes.
Salads were not unusual in the Shire either. Hobbits sometimes preferred to have a salad after suffering indigestion from a long day of overindulging in sugary sin. Salads could be served with an assortment of fresh herbs and, in some cases, a hardboiled egg or two.
If indigestion was not an issue that day, most hobbits would pounce on some roasted chicken, usually served with potatoes, mushrooms, and mixed vegetables. Ah, it was a bad time to be a potato.
The shire was also made up of ample hunting grounds for the small to medium-sized game. Rabbits were a popular delicacy all across Middle-earth, and the Shire was no different. Therefore, one would not be surprised to lift their platter cover dome and find a steaming bowl of rabbit stew waiting for them. The succulent, steamy, and supple lagomorph stew was often reserved for the most private meal of the day simply because it was too good to share. Neighbors could get a quick whiff but for them to come over without looking crass would likely prove awkward, to say the least. In reality, though, one would be advised not to even bother going over to a stewy hobbit-hole, because no one will answer the door before the cleanup time.
Supper was a very important meal for the hobbits as it was the last meal of the day. It was crucial for whatever meal served at this time to be filling enough to keep the hobbit reasonably satisfied until breakfast the next morning. Supper was at 9 p.m., which was the last official mealtime of the day. Any rumor, or speculation, regarding midnight snacking hobbits, is best left in the realm of conspiracy theory.
Why do hobbits eat so much?
There are many theories, mostly fan-generated, that explore this question to varying degrees. The first is one that sort of makes senses from a human, calorie-in-calories-out perspective. This theory suggests that hobbits consumed so much food because the energy demands of their agriculture-based society were just so high. It is important to remember that, at least technologically, the hobbits were among the simplest races in Middle-earth. They also lacked any significant magical abilities, meaning they had to do most of their farming jobs manually on top of walking everywhere. Factor in their tiny sizes and this energy demand theory becomes a little more plausible.
Other fans dive even further down the scientific rabbit hole to argue another theory. This theory argues that creatures with smaller bodies have to consume much higher quantities of food, in relation to their own body masses, in a bid to maintain body temperature levels. Because the hobbits are smaller than regular men, they have a higher surface area to volume ratio, meaning they lose heat faster. To compensate for this, a hobbit would have to eat a higher proportion of their weight in food in order to maintain the same temperature levels as a regular human.
The inner skeptic within all of us might not buy the above scientific jargon, though. Maybe the hobbits were just greedy.
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