Food in the Jill Books


Oh my goodness, did Jill like to eat. The initial loving descriptions of food I suppose can be explained by the fact the books were published not long after World War II while rationing was still in force (and indeed rationing is mentioned in the original editions). Sugar was rationed until 1953, so the loving descriptions of cakes and jam could well reflect the fact that such things didn’t, in real life, happen that often. Although rationing is mentioned (in Jill’s Gymkhana (1949) ‘Mummy recklessly melted down our whole week’s cheese ration’ and in A Stable for Jill, (1951) Jill and her friends polish off a tea ration for four people) the impression you get in the books is not generally one of careful husbanding and eeking out: no Woolton pie here.

Food rationing ended completely on 5 July 1954, but the books that appeared after that do not lose their preoccupation with food. The cakes, biscuits and sausages roll on. The food is all of the traditional and solid sort: the only exotic dish mentioned is the ragout Mrs Sound cooks in Pony Jobs for Jill. Its exoticism was probably helped by the immersion of Pride and Prejudice in its bubbling depths.

The food in Jill is part of that Arcadian world in which Jill existed. There is an element of privation, but never too much. And the later books positively spread themselves in a manner that recalls Ratty’s picnic in The Wind in the Willows.

Part of the characterisation of Jill’s aunt, who does not understand her and doesn’t particularly approve of horses, is the feeble nature of her picnics. In Jill and the Perfect Pony (1959), possibly the most food-orientated of the series, this is the picnic Aunt Primrose serves up:

… slices of cold beef, rolls; soft on the outside and hard on the inside with not enough butter, warm orangeade and slightly melted jam tarts

Whereas Mrs Lockett provides:

… mashed salmon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, potted meat, sandwiches with ‘new’ bread, cold chipolatas on sticks, crisp rolls with heaps of butter, very plummy fruit cake and bottles of Coca-Cola

No contest. An ability to provide a decent spread was, at least in Jill’s mind, proof of solid and worthy character.

Many thanks to Hazelhunter for contributing this list of the food mentioned in each Jill book. It originally appeared on my old forum.

Jill’s Gymkhana (1949)

  • Chopped lettuce and cucumber sandwiches
  • A ‘Gypsy supper’ of roast potatoes and cheese and baked apples with sultanas in the middle with brown sugar and coffee in the Cona
  • Milk and buns
  • The Derry’s tea:
    • Sardine sandwiches, tarts and iced cake
    • Hot buttered toast and marrow ginger
    • Melted cheese and mushrooms on toast and milky coffee
    • Jam sandwiches and tea
  • Mrs Caves:
    • Ham and eggs, stewed rhubarb and fruity fruitcake
    • A breakfast of porridge / eggs
  • The Lowe’s tea:
    • Buttered toast and strawberry jam, cake and marzipan, tea and lumps of sugar

A Stable for Jill (1951)

  • Sandwiches, two kinds of jam and three types of cakes
  • Coffee and toast with jam on
  • Two cold sausages and a pile of bread and butter
  • Sausages and chips

Jill has Two Ponies (1952)

  • Pink imitation meat sandwiches and ‘chipped’ cups of tea
  • Toast and jam
  • ‘thin’ bread, butter and jam and tea
  • Biscuits
  • Peppermint creams
  • Christmas meal: sausages and bread sauce
  • Cocoa and sausages
  • Cocoa
  • Sausages and chips, baked apple with brown sugar in the middle
  • Dripping toast for tea
  • Boiled eggs
  • An ‘enormous’ tea with iced Christmas cake and mince pies
  • Porridge
  • Cocoa for elevenses
  • Porridge and two eggs
  • ‘bars’ of chocolate

Jill Enjoys her Ponies (1954)

  • A ‘proposed’ chicken lunch and ices
  • ‘Don’t eat just ‘toast and jam’; the ‘uneaten’ block of chocolate
  • A pear and some biscuits
  • Tea and toast
  • Weak orange squash cordial for Diana and Ann
  • About six ices
  • Mrs Whirtly’s tea:
    • Buns, meringues, jam puffs, four kinds of sandwiches and chocolate cake
    • A beaker of cocoa and a pile of toast
  • At the Heaths’:
    • Lemonade and buns
    • ‘About a gallon’ of orange fruit cup
    • Cocoa and buns
  • A rather ‘soapy’ ice (At the Buzzing Beehive)
  • Hors d’oeuvres, rolls and fruit salad (At the Wagging Windmill)
  • An ice
  • ‘Loads’ of sandwiches, luscious iced cake, an ice cream or two and ‘I don’t know how many cups of tea’
  • A ‘peaceful’ apple or two

Jill’s Riding Club (1956)

  • Tea and currant buns
  • Tea and buns
  • ‘Rounds and rounds’ of hot buttered toast and jam, shrimps, and chocolate biscuits
  • A ‘gallon’ of highly coloured lemonade
  • A ‘stack’ of sandwiches
  • Hot jam tarts (at the Trimbles’)
  • Two chocolate ice cream sodas
  • Lemonade, buns and cakes
  • Orangeade, iced buns and chocolate biscuits
  • (Pine forest accident meal)
  • Crab sandwiches, ice cream, chocolate cake and coffee
  • Mars bars
  • Coffee and chocolate éclairs
  • A jug of cocoa
  • Porridge and bacon and eggs
  • Home made cakes, buns and biscuits
  • Cakes, lemonade and ice cream

Jill and the Perfect Pony (1959)

  • Cup of cocoa and biscuits
  • Amanda’s tea: ‘Tons’ of hot buttered toast with apricot and strawberry jam, cake with cherries in and chocolate biscuits
  • Hot sausages and chips
  • A big cup of cocoa, two buttered scones and a chocolate biscuit
  • Jill’s most un-favourite meal (at the Locketts): Scotch broth, a huge piece of boiled beef, carrots and potatoes, baked apple and custard. (She felt like fruit salad and ice cream)
  • A Mars bar
  • Sardines (Jill’s ‘most sordid’ tea)
  • Buttered eggs with bread and butter
  • A beaker of cocoa and a fat slice of home-made cake
  • Ices and ice cream sodas
  • Sandwiches, hot buttered toast, strawberry jam and a big pot of tea
  • Biscuits and lemonade
  • Chocolates
  • Toasted crumpets and strawberry jam
  • Cecilia’s mother’s picnic: slices of cold beef, rolls; soft on the outside and hard on the inside with not enough butter, warm orangeade and slightly melted jam tarts
  • Mrs Lockett’s picnic: mashed salmon, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, potted meat, sandwiches with ‘new’ bread, cold chipolatas on sticks, crisp rolls with heaps of butter, very plummy fruit cake and bottles of Coca-Cola
  • Apples and a bar of nut milk chocolate
  • Sandwiches, cakes and ham rolls
  • Sausage rolls, a trifle, and a big iced cake
  • Roast lamb and green peas

Pony Jobs for Jill (1960)

  • China tea and toast
  • Cecilia’s seaside picnic
  • Dainty sandwiches and dainty cakes
  • Ragout (at the Sounds’)
  • ‘Unfinished’ omelette, sponge pudding, bread and butter
  • Tea and biscuits
  • Cheese and tomato pie and a pot of tea
  • Boiled eggs
  • Sandwiches and tea
  • A boiled egg and one sardine between two
  • Piping hot buttered crumpets, sandwiches, cakes, and
    little sausages on sticks
  • Cokes and cakes
  • A tray of cakes
  • Tea and hot buttered buns
  • Sandwiches, coffee, and bananas
  • Sandwiches and cakes
  • The last of the chocolates and Christmas cake
  • A glass of milk and a tin of chocolate biscuits
  • ‘Days of’ lopsided pieces of chicken or pork and jammy
    and spongy puddings
  • Ice cream
  • Lemonade
  • A sausage roll or two
  • Sandwiches and cakes
  • A tray of ices

Jill’s Pony Trek (1962)

  • A cup of cocoa
  • Ginger beer and cake
  • Emergency meal: a tin of lunch meat, cheese sections, and a few apples
  • Hypothetical: jam pancakes and tins of stew
  • April’s supplies: a lump of cold beef, a treacle pudding, fruit cake, cheese, bananas, buttered rolls, a few sandwiches, apples, a tin of
    peaches, mint lumps, and a tin of spaghetti
  • Hot coffee and big fat buns
  • Bread, cheese, fruit and half pint bottles of milk
  • ‘Loads’ of sausages and coffee
  • Bacon, eggs, toast with butter, ‘gallons’ of tea
  • Warm bread, cheese, apples, milk, tea and chocolate bars
  • Tinned meat, salmon, sardines, biscuits, cake, nuts, raisins,
    cheese, sweets and tea
  • Packets of cornflakes, tinned condensed milk and coffee
  • Ices and cakes
  • Grilled fish and roast potatoes
  • Porridge, bacon and tea
  • Cornish pasties, cheese, bread, cakes and biscuits
  • Sweets and ‘ice cream tubs’
  • Scrambled eggs, cottage loaf, butter, apple pie, fruit cake,
    cocoa and milk
  • Tea, bread, butter and marmalade
  • Coffee, buns and cake
  • Piping hot sausages
  • A packet of sandwiches