JRR Tolkien introduced the world to Middle-earth with his book The Hobbit, and he introduced Hobbits by their demeanor and lifestyle. That included things like gardening, beer brewing, evenings at the tavern with their friends, and the debatable virtues of pipe-weed. But more than anything else, it was food that defined their soft, comfortable lives. The Hobbit opens with a lengthy eating party, as Bilbo Baggins finds his larder wiped out by 13 hungry Dwarves. Ever since then, meals have been a central part of Hobbit identity, and indeed, it’s part of their humility of spirit that makes them so resistant to the One Ring. They’d rather have a muffin than a throne.
Peter Jackson and actor Billy Boyd found a memorable way to convey that love in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. As Aragorn leads the Hobbits toward Rivendell, Pippin asks about “second breakfast” and a litany of additional meals that will presumably be skipped as they continue. Tolkien specified six meals in the Prologue to The Fellowship of the Ring, but two of them are essentially the same meal. Here’s a rundown of each one to give a good idea of what Pippin is missing.
Breakfast Marks Hobbits’ Most Important Meal of the Day
Hobbits awaken to breakfast, but the specific times in the novel vary. Sam announces breakfast at 9:30 am while on the road in The Fellowship of the Ring, but the heroes also take breakfast at other times of the morning, depending on the circumstances. Regardless, it’s the first meal they take after they’ve awakened and likely consists of a light continental-style meal. That means tea, muffins, toast with jam and perhaps berries or similar pieces of fruit. Alternatively, it could be a heavier meal: something akin to an English country breakfast with eggs, sausage, bacon, jam and cakes or other pastries.
Pippin Isn’t the Only Hobbit Craving Second Breakfast
Tolkien mentions second breakfast in The Hobbit, with Bilbo settling down to his just as Gandalf appears to tell him that the Dwarves have already left for The Lonely Mountain. Though it sounds like fiction, second breakfast is actually a traditional meal in Poland, Germany and other parts of Central Europe. It tends to be lighter than first breakfast, though the two can switch places depending on the circumstances. Traditionally, it includes coffee and either a meat dish, such as sausages, or pastries and muffins.
Elevensies Sees Hobbits Eating at 11:00 AM Sharp
Elevensies is a light meal with roots in the UK, Hungary and other parts of Western Europe. It’s intended as more of a palate cleanser than a formal meal. As such, it’s typically limited to coffee and either toast or some kind of pastry. Tolkien mentions it at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring as the beginning of serious eating at Bilbo’s party.
Luncheon Marks the Hobbits’ Midday Meal
Luncheon is the midday meal, and it presumably doesn’t differ much from traditional midday meals anywhere in the real world. The Fellowship of the Ring mentions shepherd’s pie being served at Bilbo’s birthday party, while Bilbo himself served pork pie, mince pie, cold chicken, eggs, cheese, salad, apple tarts and various cakes when he entertained the Dwarves at the beginning of The Hobbit. That meal was technically afternoon tea, but judging by the extent of it, it’s safe to infer a late luncheon instead. Jackson’s movie version made it a late post-dinner meal. Simpler meals might be common as well, especially among Hobbits less well-off than Bilbo. That might involve cold meats, potatoes or various forms of soup. Lunch was also the first meal of the day that entailed significant drinking: Bilbo’s party with the Dwarves included beer, ale and wine.
Afternoon Tea Has Hobbits Adopting Another English Tradition
Tea is another British tradition adopted by Hobbits and presumably followed the same menu. That includes the likes of scones, cookies, jam and clotted cream served with coffee, tea or perhaps a sweet liquor like mead. The Hobbit mentions Bilbo’s fondness for blackberries, which might also be present at an afternoon tea.
Dinner Includes Hobbits’ Biggest Meal
As the biggest meal of the day, dinner was also likely the most elaborate meal for Hobbits. The general population might do with mutton or beef, along with vegetables, such as carrots or potatoes. However, someone of Bilbo’s means could do a lot more. Hobbit dinners would likely have several courses and would focus on the naturally available foods in the area. That could include soups, beef dishes, freshwater fish, such as trout, and possibly game like hare or pheasant.
Supper Marks the End of Hobbits’ Busy Eating Schedules
Technically, dinner and supper are the same meal, with little difference between them. Hobbits, however, can’t seem to go more than two or three hours without pausing to eat, which means that a final meal before bedtime was likely. Tolkien makes allusions to it, and Jackson tacked it on to the end of Pippin’s speech to emphasize the frequency with which they eat. As the last meal of the day, this would likely be something that would take a while to digest, such as meat pies, boiled eggs or more of the Hobbits’ beloved pastries.
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