Great Expectations is a book about a boy who is never allowed to finish a meal in peace, and a woman who stays in wedding-dress shape for her entire life. It’s pretty good. Here are all of the upsetting meals that are served in it.
“The cold wind seemed to blow colder there than outside the gate; and it made a shrill noise in howling in and out at the open sides of the brewery, like the noise of wind in the rigging of a ship at sea.
She saw me looking at it, and she said, ‘You could drink without hurt all the strong beer that’s brewed there now, boy.
‘I should think I could, miss,’ said I, in a shy way.
‘Better not try to brew beer there now, or it would turn out sour, boy; don’t you think so?’
‘It looks like it, miss.'”
This again was heightened by a certain gypsy character that set the banquet off; for while the table was, as Mr. Pumblechook might have said, the lap of luxury, — being entirely furnished forth from the coffee-house,—the circumjacent region of sitting-room was of a comparatively pastureless and shifty character; imposing on the waiter the wandering habits of putting the covers on the floor (where he fell over them), the melted butter in the arm-chair, the bread on the bookshelves, the cheese in the coal-scuttle, and the boiled fowl into my bed in the next room, — where I found much of its parsley and butter in a state of congelation when I retired for the night.”
Acceptable Meat And Some Light Looking
“The bread and meat were acceptable, and the beer was warming and tingling, and I was soon in spirits to look about me.”
Greasy Yet Happy
“We ate the whole of the toast, and drank tea in proportion, and it was delightful to see how warm and greasy we all got after it.”
Almost-Not Stolen Pie
I stole some bread, some rind of cheese, about half a jar of mincemeat (which I tied up in my pocket-handkerchief with my last night’s slice), some brandy from a stone bottle (which I decanted into a glass bottle I had secretly used for making that intoxicating fluid, Spanish-liquorice-water, up in my room: diluting the stone bottle from a jug in the kitchen cupboard), a meat bone with very little on it, and a beautiful round compact pork pie. I was nearly going away without the pie, but I was tempted to mount upon a shelf, to look what it was that was put away so carefully in a covered earthenware dish in a corner, and I found it was the pie, and I took it in the hope that it was not intended for early use, and would not be missed for some time.
He was gobbling mincemeat, meatbone, bread, cheese, and pork pie, all at once: staring distrustfully while he did so at the mist all round us, and often stopping—even stopping his jaws—to listen.
“She came back, with some bread and meat and a little mug of beer. She put the mug down on the stones of the yard, and gave me the bread and meat without looking at me, as insolently as if I were a dog in disgrace. I was so humiliated, hurt, spurned, offended, angry, sorry, — I cannot hit upon the right name for the smart — God knows what its name was, — that tears started to my eyes.”
“So, we had our slices served out, as if we were two thousand troops on a forced march instead of a man and boy at home; and we took gulps of milk and water, with apologetic countenances, from a jug on the dresser.”
Math and Crumbs
“Besides being possessed by my sister’s idea that a mortifying and penitential character ought to be imparted to my diet, — besides giving me as much crumb as possible in combination with as little butter, and putting such a quantity of warm water into my milk that it would have been more candid to have left the milk out altogether, — his conversation consisted of nothing but arithmetic.”
I’m Not Angry Bread
“Biddy was waiting for me at the kitchen door, with a mug of new milk and a crust of bread. ‘Biddy,’ said I, when I gave her my hand at parting, ‘I am not angry, but I am hurt.'”
I Spilled It
“To-night, Joe several times invited me, by the display of his fast diminishing slice, to enter upon our usual friendly competition; but he found me, each time, with my yellow mug of tea on one knee, and my untouched bread and butter on the other. At last, I desperately considered that the thing I contemplated must be done, and that it had best be done in the least improbable manner consistent with the circumstances. I took advantage of a moment when Joe had just looked at me, and got my bread and butter down my leg.”
“My guardian then took me into his own room, and while he lunched, standing, from a sandwich-box and a pocket-flask of sherry (he seemed to bully his very sandwich as he ate it), informed me what arrangements he had made for me.”
Fruit and Bullying Followed By A Beating
“The pupils ate apples and put straws down one another’s backs, until Mr. Wopsle’s great-aunt collected her energies, and made an indiscriminate totter at them with a birch-rod.”
Don’t-Eat-It Spider Cake
“What do you think that is?” she asked me, again pointing with her stick; “that, where those cobwebs are?”
“I can’t guess what it is, ma’am.”
“It’s a great cake. A bride-cake. Mine!”
She looked all round the room in a glaring manner, and then said, leaning on me while her hand twitched my shoulder, “Come, come, come! Walk me, walk me!”
He complied, and we groped our way down the dark stairs together. While we were still on our way to those detached apartments across the paved yard at the back, he asked me how often I had seen Miss Havisham eat and drink; offering me a breadth of choice, as usual, between a hundred times and once.
I considered, and said, “Never.”
“And never will, Pip,” he retorted, with a frowning smile. “She has never allowed herself to be seen doing either, since she lived this present life of hers. She wanders about in the night, and then lays hands on such food as she takes.”
Some Dogs Fighting
“Was anybody else there?” asked Mr. Pumblechook.
“Four dogs,” said I.
“Large or small?”
“Immense,” said I. “And they fought for veal-cutlets out of a silver basket.”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.