Lucy Dahl, Roald’s youngest daughter, looks back fondly on her childhood with the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda author, who passed away in 1990. In particular, Lucy remembers the many ways he made food fun. If your father invented Willy Wonka, it’s pretty much a guarantee that your mealtimes are going to be interesting, and indeed they were. (Unsurprisingly, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory made our list of movies guaranteed to make you hungry.)
Lucy, who is 51 now, remembers how Roald would use mealtimes to introduce his children to characters he was writing about. He intermixed fact and fiction, telling them that the characters lived nearby and that the food he served came from them. For instance, the tiny quail eggs he served at breakfast weren’t quail eggs. They came from the Minpins, creatures who live inside trees, including, Roald claimed, the woods near their house. The massive eggs he served, which Lucy would later learn were duck eggs, came from the Big Friendly Giant living under the Dahls’ orchard. Before bed, Lucy and her siblings would drink potions made by the title characters of The Witches. (Here are some egg recipes that might be almost as cool as Minpin eggs.)
Roald could also be sneaky with his food stories. Lucy recalls how he used them to get his children to eat things they might not eat otherwise. “Red cabbage was delivered by the Buckingham Palace footmen, from the Queen, especially for us,” Lucy told NPR. She reminisces on how she and her siblings wouldn’t dare refuse it after that. She laughs, remembering how the story even got her childhood friends to eat red cabbage. Here are some clever ways to get picky eaters to eat.
Roald’s stories were so detailed and convincing that Lucy and her siblings never doubted them. “We believed everything,” she said. “To us, [the stories] were really real.” (These quotes from Roald Dahl will instantly make you feel better.)
Lucy carried on Roald’s food traditions when she became a mother. She made her children recipes from Roald Dahl’s cookbook, a collection of recipes mentioned in, and inspired by, his books. She says he loved to experiment with food and, of course, “was obsessed with chocolate.” “I think that he based Willy Wonka after himself,” she said. Yup, growing up with the Candy Man himself sounds pretty good to us. (Does a professional chocolate taster sound like your dream job? Read this first.)