In the debut episode of CS Lewis’ classic novel Aslan, Witch and Wardrobe, Edmund Pevensie enters a wardrobe and is magically transferred to a snowy kingdom. An unknown queen as a witch, asks our hero what he wants to eat the most. The first thing that comes to his mind is the Turkish delight and then he eats a box with appetite.
Lokum is derived from the Ottoman word “rahat ul-hulküm”, that is, the soothing throat. It has been known and consumed in Anatolia since the 15th century. Turkish delight, which was previously made with a mixture of honey, molasses and flour, has become widespread in the 17th century with the discovery of starch. In the 18th century, an English traveler offered his guests the delight that he had taken from Istanbul to his home under the name Turkish Delight. And Turkish delight became known in Europe by this name after then.
Before starting painting, the famous painter Picasso had a nap to train his mind and balance his blood sugar. He loved the Turkish delight from the moment he first eaten and used it as an inspiration.
Turkish delight does not have a complex content, but it is not a simple dessert to make, it requires expertise. A Greek writer, wrote in a magazine dated 1894, writes in detail the process of making the Turkish delight, stating that two people should be mixed in a synchronized manner to avoid the difference in the consistency of starch. After the paste is well formed, it is poured into small wooden molds with powdered sugar to prevent the sugar from sticking. Then the contents of these molds are poured into marble sheets and cut into strips, and these strips are again cut into small cubes. The intensity and skill required of the Turkish delight process may be the reason why it could not be produced successfully in Europe. Many people have tried to do that but what they do, were not the same as what tourists buy when they come to Turkey.
Imports of Turkish Delight to England started in 1861. Punch magazine published a cartoon to satirize this event, which was found to be exciting in those years.
These flavor lumps became so popular that various delights with lemon, violet, apple and different fruit and aroma syrups were produced in order to appeal to different tastes. Those who could not travel to Istanbul experienced this tasting the Turkish delight. Today, this traditional dessert is produced in many new versions with new additions, including chocolate. Turkish delight is traditionally packaged in a hexagonal box covered with wax to cover the pieces of sugar and prevent powdered sugar from escaping.
What is the main reason that Edmund chose Turkish delight among all food and confectionery options and sold his three siblings to the witch. This question is especially important for people who know and watch the Turkish delight due to Edmund. An entire episode is devoted to Edmund’s eating memories, a special treat he shares with his grandfather, and adds the delight as number seven to the top ten dessert lists. The version of the delight Edmund eats is not mentioned here, but many assume it is a rose-flavored version. The important note here is that Lewis does not specify flavor, only indicates that it is the best Turkish delight, meaning that ‘every piece is sweet and light to the center’ means that the delight is made correctly, that is, it is not made by an Englishman.
Lewis started taking his first notes in 1939 for the story that would be Lion, Witch, and the Wardrobe when it was finished. He took home some school groups that fled without bombing during World War II. Among them, a refugee girl unwittingly walked around the wardrobe while reading a book.
However, the book was published for Christmas in the autumn of 1950.
Unlike Edmund, Lewis lived in the confusion of wartime, at a time when food was given on a report card. On July 26, 1942, confectionery was also added to the list that can be bought. Of course, it was necessary to register at the selling store and wait in long queues and the amount was limited. Turkish delight came in limited quantities and prices were exorbitant.
In the book, Christmas is the main theme, with the evil magic of the White Witch in Narnia, it is always winter but never Christmas. This gloomy situation parallels the gloomy periods of wartime. The timber limitation made it difficult to reach the Christmas trees, while the limit on the confectionery ended in February 1953. When the White Witch asks Edmund what he wants to eat, he wants the most difficult and expensive Turkish Delight to obtain, but he does not settle for it, but also wants Christmas from her.
The hero of Narnia got its name Aslan from the Turkish word lion. Many factors have influenced author Lewis’ choices in various details, but whatever Edmund’s desire to make Turkish delights has been immortalized in the minds of countless viewers and readers.
In the novel of Lewis, Turkish Delight serves a very humanitarian purpose. For many of the readers, Edmund is spirited, enthusiastic for his own earnings, and fraudulent against his siblings. But when you evaluate safety concerns, displacement, and suffering through empathy, we acknowledge that the child is actually acting the way most of us can. The Turkish delight of Edmund represents the combination of his family, where future people live in peace, and happier tastes together.