by Katie Glaudell
September 22nd marks Hobbit Day, celebrating the three-foot-tall heroes of J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Every year fans gather for picnics, dinner parties, movie marathons, and more. Marché patrons are sure to find some common ground with Hobbits, who famously love to “eat, and drink, often and heartily.” “They like parties and they like to give and receive presents.” I can certainly relate. Having loved The Lord of the Rings since the movies came out twenty years ago, Hobbit Day is special to me. Every year I like to throw a party worthy of a Hobbit, and I’m here to help anyone else who wants to do the same!
What Do Hobbits Eat? Hobbits represent Tolkien’s vision of the pre-Industrial English country farmer. They love simple, hearty foods–mushrooms, potatoes, tomatoes, cured meats, fresh fruits, jams, cheeses, and cakes, to name a few. When I plan my Hobbit Day parties, I ask three questions:1. What can I serve that is traditionally English?2. What can I serve that fits the theme or style of the books or movies?3. What can I serve that is seasonal or local? And as luck would have it, Marché offers up a bountiful selection of goodies that can fit all of those categories.
For me, the pièce de résistance of any party is the charcuterie board. Here’s what I’m putting on mine this Hobbit Day and why:
Cheeses: Red Leicester – UK: Made in Leicestershire, England since the 1700s, Tolkien was likely familiar with this cheese, having grown up only an hour away in Birmingham. Shakerag Blue – Sesquatchie, TN: While Stilton is the English blue of choice, I can’t pass up a cheese wrapped in whiskey-soaked fig leaves. Any Tolkien fan will think of lembas, the hearty leaf-wrapped bread that the Hobbits eat along their journey. Merry-Goat-Round Spruce Reserve – MD: This soft-ripened creamy goat cheese has a spruce bark wrapping, which makes it a perfect nod to our forest-loving Hobbit friends. Pleasant Ridge Reserve – Dodgeville, WI: Produced only in summer months when the cows feed on fresh grass, this alpine style is America’s most awarded cheese. I think that Hobbit dairy farmers would have had similar seasonal cheesemaking practices. Julianna – Greenville, IN: Your guests will delight in this Hobbit-sized wheel of goat cheese, coated in flower petals and herbes de provence for a touch of natural beauty.Charcuterie Dodge City Salami – Indianapolis, IN Salami di Manzo Wagyu Beef – Chicago, IL Rosemary & Lamb Salami – Landover, MD
Jams from Cellar Door Preserves: Tolkien said that “cellar door” was the most beautiful phrase in the English language. Who can argue with an Oxford linguistics professor? Pickles: Grab a jar of pickled vegetables made by our talented chef Debbie at Marché! In-season Illinois produce that plays well with cheese includes apples, pears, grapes, nectarines, cucumbers, and sweet peppers. To take things up a notch, lay out your produce on a generous bed of swiss chard leaves for a Shire-worthy presentation. Marché Nut Mix: Marcona almonds, caramelized walnuts, and house-roasted rosemary walnuts are a winning combination to fill out your charcuterie board.
Our fresh baguettes are one of the simple comforts in life, and these hearty crackers would fit right into any Hobbit’s pantry: Fine Cheese Co. Fig & Honey Crackers– England Olina’s Seeded Crisps – Australia Effie’s Oatcake Biscuits – Dorchester, MA
“It has been remarked by some that the Hobbit’s only real passion is for food. A rather unfair observation, as we have also developed a keen interest in the brewing of ales, and the smoking of pipe-weed.” Hobbits are also fond of porter, red wine, and because they have apple orchards, probably cider as well. Once again, Marché’s got you covered:
Moose Drool Brown Ale: Brown ales are a delicious traditional beer in England.
Ella Fitzgerald Porter: Another style specifically mentioned in The Hobbit.
French Sidre: It’s cider season! Ciders from France tend to be drier than American ciders, and they play well with a variety of different foods.
Earth Garden Sauvignon Blanc: Made in New Zealand where The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed, showcasing the beautiful wild landscapes of the country.
Anne Pichon Grenache Noir: This packs a juicy punch that will hold up to bold cheeses and meats.
For large gatherings, I like to pick up a growler or two from a local brewery like Two Hound Red – the amber growler jugs fit right in with the Hobbit party aesthetic!
Hobbits are not only great eaters, but good bakers. They love scones and seed cakes at tea time, as well as tarts and pies, both sweet and savory. I’m no expert chef, so I find easy recipes that can feed a lot of people, like vegetable galettes, roasted potatoes, apple tarts, and quick breads.
I can’t wait to see what your Hobbit Day celebrations and fall get-togethers look like–be sure to tag us on Instagram @marche496 and share your favorite dishes and cheese boards with us!
No matter what kind of party you throw, just remember not to sweat the small stuff, and have fun with it! Good food is important, but the people you share it with is what really matters.
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”