Cooking Up Fun: ‘Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes’


RR_Revolting RecipesRoald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes by Roald Dahl and illustrated by Quentin Blake. Puffin, 1997. 32 pages.

  • Reading Level: Ages 8-10
  • Recommended For: all ages

Bottom Line: Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this extraordinary cookbook includes outlandish food from Dahl’s books, fleshed out into real recipes you can be revolted by in your own kitchen!

Roald Dahl is a defining author of the last century. His stories are some of the most creative, clever, sometimes subversive and disgusting tales you could ever hope to foist upon your kids. Probably his most well-known book is Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, though James and the Giant Peach and Matilda are also well-known books in his long list of bestsellers. The BFG has hit the big screen, bringing it back into the limelight as well.

There are some reasons not to like Dahl. He can be rather dark at times, and perhaps more pernicious than his own writing is the school of writing that he helped spawn—a gothic humor that has lead to a Tim Burton-ization of an entire shelf of kids’ books. One might argue that he was simply riding a same cultural wave, not its progenitor. But whatever the case, his works continue to maintain an awesome presence not only in the scores of authors who have imitated him, but he is still deeply-loved by many parents, teachers and kids themselves—especially boys who are reluctant readers.

Dahl the man lived an extraordinary life. He was a British airman and spy during World War II, spent time in Africa selling oil and fighting off lions and black mambas, and in 2006 was honored by the institution of Roald Dahl Day in Britain. More fascinating perhaps to a Christian is the autobiography of his childhood, Boy: Tales of Childhood. In that book, we find one of the sources of Dahl’s dark humor—he says that while in his teens, a good friend named Michael (who would later become Archbishop of Canterbury) was severely caned by their headmaster, an event that caused him to “have doubts about religion and even about God.”

Still, Dahl’s works display unique genius. And I was very excited to find a book recently which helps Dahl lovers take the fun off the page: Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes. Illustrated by Quentin Blake, this extraordinary cookbook includes outlandish food from Dahl’s books, fleshed out into real recipes you can be revolted by in your own kitchen! (And in truth, you don’t have to know anything about the books to enjoy the humor.)

While some of the recipes are a little complicated, just browsing through the recipe titles is worth the price of the book. Here’s a taste of what you’ll find, organized into sections like Starters, Snacks, Main Courses, and Confectionary:

George’s Marvelous Medicine Chicken Soup

Stink Bugs’ Eggs

Scrambled Dregs


Mosquitoes’ Toes and Wampfish Roes Most Delicately Fried

The Enormous Crocodile

Crispy Wasp Stings on a Piece of Buttered Toast

Lickable Wallpaper

A couple of my personal favorites include a recipe for cooking ice cream in the oven called Hot Ice Cream for Cold Days, and Bird Pie, which features a pie crust with something like bird feet sticking out. Probably the most practical one for teachers is Candy-Coated Pencils for Sucking in Class. But whatever you do, don’t let your kids loose in the kitchen with this book. Besides the normal hazards of cooking with kids, this cookbook includes a recipe called Stickjaw for Talkative Parents!

This book makes me wonder: what other books out there might help parents take the stories kids read and bring them into real life? Any suggestions?

Also, for more middle-grade boy-friendly book pics, see Janie’s review of Lawn Boy by Gary Paulson, On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells, or browse our Middle Reader category.

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1 Comment

  1. George on March 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

    It was 35 years ago, and I can still remember slogging through “Charlie and The Chocolate Factory” and finding it distasteful. I wondered then, and have yet to figure out, why that book became famous.
    I chalk it up to the power of Scholastic Book Service catalogues circulated in school, and the influence of public librarians who choose which books to place on the shelves.

    I can’t remember finding any redeeming value in or silver lining to that book.

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