Moomins cook up recipe book

Tove Jansson's much-loved characters are set to reappear in a book introducing Finnish cuisine

From the unflappable Moominmamma's syrup to fight autumn coughs and colds to Moominpappa's spiced mulled wine for a frosty night, the culinary skills of Tove Jansson's much-loved Moomins are set to be revealed in a cookbook later this year.

Drawing inspiration from Jansson's descriptions of life in Moominvalley, a place where "very often unexpected and disturbing things used to happen, but nobody ever had time to be bored, and that is always a good thing", Finnish writer Sami Malila has created a series of 150 "forest" recipes which will be published in The Moomins Cookbook this July, complete with original illustrations by Jansson.

Jansson, who died in 2001, wrote and illustrated nine Moomin books in total. Her gently eccentric characters and their friends have captured children's hearts since they first appeared in the 1940s – and despite having no mouths in her drawings, the Moomins generally manage to eat well. "Moominpappa was busy on the veranda, making punch in a barrel," she writes in Finn Family Moomintroll. "He put in almonds and raisins, lotus juice, ginger, sugar and nutmeg flowers, one or two lemons, and a couple of pints of strawberry liqueur to make it specially good. Now and again he had a taste ... It was very good."

Later, the inhabitants of Moominvalley gather for a feast. "There were big piles of gleaming fruit and huge plates of sandwiches on the bigger tables, and on tiny little tables under the bushes there were ears of corn and berries threaded on straws and clusters of nuts nestling in their own leaves," she writes. "Moominmamma put the fat for frying the pancakes in the bathtub because there weren't enough basins, and then she carried up eleven enormous jars of raspberry juice from the cellar. (The twelfth had been cracked, I'm sorry to say, when the Hemulen let off his squib.)"

"They're traditional Finnish recipes – it's an introduction to Finnish cuisine," said editor Emma Hayley at independent publisher SelfMadeHero. "There's drinks, salads, desserts, breakfast at the end of a Nordic summer night – it's great fun, with dialogue and Moominisms interspersed throughout the recipes." Other recipes will include the Snufkin's picnic pot, the Lighthouse Keeper's fish pie and potato au gratin for hungry Moomins.

The cookbook has already been published in Finnish, Swedish and French, where it is doing well, Hayley said. Jansson's writings have recently undergone a revival in the UK, with her adult novels The Summer Book, The Winter Book, Fair Play and The True Deceiver all reissued in the last 10 years.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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