Shared Character Experiences: A.J. Fikry and Turkish Delight
I’ve been following the trend of every other library staffer that I work with, and started reading Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. At one point the title character, who is a bookseller, is having a conversation with one of the book reps that’s come to town vaguely about food in books, and he brings up something that also haunted me — Turkish Delight.
“…I always wanted to try the Turkish Delight in Narnia. When I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a boy, I used to think that Turkish Delight must be incredibly delicious if it made Edmund betray his family…And it turned out to be this powder, gummy candy. I don’t think I’ve ever been so disappointed in my entire life.”
“Your childhood was officially over right then.”
“I was never the same,” A.J. says.
When I was in fifth grade, we read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as one of the assigned readings. I loved the book, yes, but I kept thinking — Turkish Delight must be amazing. I remember imagining the vivid red of Edmund’s mouth as he ate it, which invoked all my favorite flavors of candy: cherry, strawberry, or even, still my heart, raspberry.
Turkish Delight is not something a regular American kid encounters in the Shaw’s, so for years I never ate it, and almost forgot how much I’d wanted to. Then my husband (then my boyfriend) and I went to a candy shop on Cape Cod. A candy shop that sold European candy — including Turkish Delight. I was so excited. I’d finally get to try it! This delicious candy that Edmund loved so much! I bought one, and once in the car I ripped it open and bit in.
I don’t remember the flavor. I think my brain is protecting me, trying to diminish the extreme disappointment. I only remember it was hard to swallow, and I didn’t finish the awful thing.
It’s true that most things are never as amazing as you thought they’d be. You expect them to at least be edible, though. I’m just glad wide-eyed 10-year-old me never encountered Turkish Delight outside a book. I might have never trusted an author’s culinary taste again.