After learning about the Tolkien estate's downright unseasonable ban on pumpkins appearing anywhere on Middle Earth, a second, and very important question arose: What about potatoes, precious?
The controversy around the pumpkin centers around the Tolkien estate's claim that, as the pumpkin didn't grow in the fields of long-ago Europe that inspired J.R.R., we should assume that they also wouldn't grow in the fictional fields. In response, commenters began to wonder where that left some other favorite (and classic!) fictional foods.
Noted commenter stellastar42:
Don't the Hobbits walk through corn fields at one point in the movies? Corn comes from the Americas, as do potatoes.
Commenter endeers offered this support of pumpkins, potatoes, tomatoes, and a whole host of other foods to fill the tables of The Shire:
This has been weighing heavily on my heart, guys, since I love pumpkin bread and tacos. I decided to ask my favorite Tolkien scholar about it and the rebuttal has made me feel better about Middle Earth.
"They're wrong. There are tomatoes and potatoes in the book which are New World foods. Also pipe weed is either tobacco or pot, and both are [from the] New World.
"Dammit, they're wrong and the estate is wrong. The Shire is basically Victorian England at the time of the Silver Jubilee. It has New World foods. It also has things like tea which wasn't grown in pre-modern Europe. And their beer uses hops, which was not used in pre-Tudor England. So the estate isn't paying as much attention as Tolkien scholars, apparently."
TACOS FOR EVERYONE!
Meanwhile our own James Whitbrook suggested a possible potato-loophole that would let the root vegetable slip through (although pumpkins would still be out of luck:
Apparently, fan speculation puts the potato as an import from Númenor to get around Tolkien's apparent hatred for the New World's presence in Middle-Earth (pipe-weed, also a non-european import, was brought over by the Númenorians in the Second Age).
Middle-Earth has a very strict policy on food importation, it seems!
What do you think? How would they have dined in Middle Earth? Are there foods that would have definitely been present and foods that wouldn't? Send your menu suggestions, explanations, and Tolkien-inspired recipes into the comments, please.