Tea with the Marches: Interviewing the authors of the Little Women Cookbook (Part 1)

By Trix Wilkins

I only bake with my kids because they love it. Given the choice, I would rather toddle down to our local café and have an apple tart baked by French chefs appear effortlessly in front of me. Having once attempted to create said apple tart (with an unpalatable disaster to show for my efforts over three hours later), I now have tremendous respect for wonderful cooks…hence my excitement to have crossed paths with a couple of librarian-chef-authors!

Thank you Miko and Jenne of 36 Eggs and The Little Women Cookbook for taking the time to share of your bookish and foodish passions in this interview.

If you could have tea with two of the March sisters, who would you choose and what would you talk to them about?

Jenne: I would like to talk to Meg, and find out what her favorite foods and cooking methods were. Did she ever conquer the currant jelly? What flavors were the pink and white ice creams? (We made an educated guess but I’d like to know for sure!) 

My other choice would be Amy, since Mrs. Laurence would probably offer a very elegant tea, and maybe she could explain to me the appeal of pickled limes. 

Courtesy of Jill Wellington via Pixabay

Miko: I’d want to spill the tea with Amy — I bet she knows all the good juicy gossip, and I feel like she gets a lot of unfair hate from Little Women fans.

The second sister I’d choose is Beth, since we readers get to know her the least of all the sisters. I’m not a cultured gentleman like Mr. Laurence, who can draw her in with enthralling descriptions of musicians, so I’d probably break the ice by talking endlessly about my cats and foster kittens.

Mrs. Laurence would probably offer a very elegant tea, and she could explain to me the appeal of pickled limes. 

Jenne, The Little Women Cookbook

How did your book come into being and what was the most enjoyable part of the process for you?

It was completely out of the blue!

We had started the 36 Eggs blog a few years ago purely for our own amusement, and we were contacted by Ulysses Press to see if we’d be interested in writing a Little Women cookbook (planned to come out around the same time as the movie). There are many other literary cooking blogs, but apparently we are one of the few who had tackled recipes from Little Women

We were a little unsure whether we would even know how to write a cookbook, but we asked ourselves, “Well, who would be more qualified than us? We are librarians who quote the book to each other constantly, and we already spend our free time researching historical recipes…We have more or less been training for this our whole lives!”

Learn to make ice cream with Meg, molasses candy with Jo, baked squash with Beth, pickled limes with Amy from The Little Women Cookbook: Novel Takes on Classic Recipes from Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, and Friends

We had a very short timeline – less than 4 months from the initial offer to turning in the manuscript -and since we both have full-time jobs, we basically ate, slept and breathed Little Women until it was finished. We have very different skills and interests, so the enjoyable part of the process was different for each of us:

Jenne: My favorite part was making and interpreting the historical recipes, and trying to understand how 19th century cooks thought about food. And especially getting to discover how delicious the recipes turned out to be!

A seemingly insignificant question (like, “What kind of tea did the March girls drink?”) would send me to the closest university library for hours to find the answer.

Miko, The Little Women Cookbook

Miko: My favorite part was delving deep into the research. I get obsessed. When we were first approached to do the cookbook, I spent the weekend re-reading the novel and noting every single food and drink that appeared in an Excel sheet. A seemingly insignificant question (like, “What kind of tea did the March girls drink?”) would send me to the closest university library for hours to find the answer.

A tea advertisement in Godey’s Lady’s Book, a popular magazine during the setting of Little Women, listed the following teas: Black (Oolong and English Breakfast) and Green (Imperial, Japan, Young Hyson, and Gunpowder).

Stay tuned for Part 2 – Miko and Jenne share their favorite Little Women food scenes, what their dream library would be like, and a Meg & John wedding cake recipe…

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