Even odder then, that Lewis Carroll’s dreamed Wonderland is rife with food. Food is the first indicator of Alice’s entrance into Wonderland. She sees a jar of marmalade as she falls. Disappointingly, it is empty. From there on forward, it is the consumption and non-consumption of food that moves the plot along. The mock turtle sings of soup. The queen and her stolen tarts. Eat me. Drink me. Grow. Fall.
Alice eats and drinks and grows big and small. The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party captures the imagination, but very little food is actually consumed at the party. The nonsensical party then is one of the only places in the story that is accurate in the logic of dreams. There is food, but somehow, we never quite eat it.
There is a madness in food- in what it does to us- the psychedelic elements of it. We grow big, we grow small. We eat among people we do not know, in a place where we do not know the rules.
Dreams, so vivid and bizarre to us when as we experience them, often feel flat when we retell them in the waking. The sense of the bizarre and uncanny remains simply silly in the daylight. Perhaps this is why Wonderland is not a dream but rather the inversion of life. It is what we think we dream but not what we actually do.
In Guillermo del Toro’s brilliant movie, Pan’s Labyrinth, a girl goes down under the earth. It is not a dream (or is it?), but in this underworld she encounters a monster sitting at table alone, a feast laid out before him. Do not eat, she had been warned. But she is a little girl, living through the hunger and horrors of Spain’s Civil War. How could she not eat? She eats- and all her troubles begin.
It is the inversion of Alice in Wonderland. The inversion of an inversion and back to the beginning where we do not eat. Maybe to eat in a dream is to have a nightmare. Come feast, and live horrors.
Alice’s Scones for Alice
Adapted from Alice Waters’s The Art of Simple Food
2 cups of flour
2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon sugar + 1 ½ tablespoons for sprinkling
zest of a lemon or some other citrus fruit
1 ⅓ cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 400 Fahrenheit. In a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and zest. Mix in the cream. Turn the sticky dough out onto a floured surface and pat into an eight inch round. Brush with the melted butter and sprinkle with the reserved sugar. Cut the round into 8 wedges and place on a tray about an inch apart. Bake 17 minutes until golden.