Here’s our run-down of some of Harry’s memorable food moments…
Worst: mealtimes at the Dursley’s
Despite the fact that Harry was often forced to cook for the Dursley’s, at Privet Drive, his own plate was rarely full. Cold tinned soup served through a cat-flap, bread and cheese begrudgingly dished up in a kitchen flooded with the scent of roast pork, the smallest quarter of grapefruit: these were the kinds of meals Harry was fed by Aunt Petunia. And treats were obviously in very short supply – the cheap lemon ice lolly Harry received on Dudley’s birthday was vanishingly rare, as was the remains of Dudley’s unwanted knickerbocker glory. Melted ice cream and leftovers, that was the best Harry could ever hope for.
Best: eating with the Weasley’s
The food prepared in Molly Weasley’s kitchen was a very different matter.
At the Weasley’s Harry could eat his fill, and he did: eight or nine sausages and three fried eggs for breakfast, fourth helpings of whatever he wanted, buttered toast and bacon sandwiches galore, summertime pies and salads, and even a specially-created beach-ball-sized giant Golden Snitch of a birthday cake.
And what was even better about Mrs Weasley’s cooking was that it was made with genuine affection for Harry, and served on a table full of people who actually liked him. That’s truly delicious.
Worst: the Deathday Party menu
But even Mrs Weasley’s cooking couldn’t have saved Nearly Headless Nick’s Deathday Party for its unlucky few living guests.
When the rest of the invitees have been dead for years and are unable to taste anything but the most rotten and foul-smelling foodstuffs, even a giant birthday cake can’t sweeten the deal. Not that Nearly Headless Nick’s birthday cake wasn’t impressive in its own morbid way. Enormous, grey, and shaped like a tombstone: it’d certainly be a talking point, wouldn’t it? And we suppose it does sound slightly nicer than the rest of the spread – rotten fish, maggoty haggis, and mouldy cheese.
Best: Hagrid’s birthday cake
Mrs Weasley’s giant Snitch cake might have been the pinnacle in baked-goods affection, but it was not the first birthday cake Harry received. No, that honour – at least as far as Harry could remember – went to Hagrid.
Large, sticky, chocolatey, and slightly squashed as it was, when Harry sat down to eat the cake Hagrid had (presumably) baked and brought to the Hut-on-the-Rock, it marked a sea-change in his life. It also came after years of terrible birthdays, and with all that being said we can’t think of a better way to celebrate turning 11 than sitting with Hagrid and learning about Hogwarts over a meal of burnt sausages and squashed cake.
Worst: all Hagrid’s other cooking
The birthday cake must have been a one-off though – or perhaps it was simply so rare for Harry to receive birthday cake that it tasted particularly incredible. Because generally speaking, Hagrid’s cooking left a lot to be desired.
His rock cakes were hard enough to break teeth, and we never really fancied trying his stoat sandwiches, or the treacle fudge that was more like glue, or that beef casserole Hermione found a talon in, either. Yuk.
Best: Honeydukes’ sweets
The wizarding world’s greatest sweetshop, Honeydukes, packed so many treats onto its shelves that even describing them makes our mouths water. Pepper Imps that made people smoke at the ears or mouth. Chocoballs full of mousse and cream. Sugar quills, Toothflossing Stringmints, Jelly Slugs, levitating sherbet balls called Fizzing Whizzbees, Ice Mice, Chocolate Frogs, peppermint creams, exploding bonbons, and toffee, nougat and chocolate of every kind. No wonder Ron was desperate to get in there and Harry was so disappointed when he couldn’t: we’d pay good money to access those sweet shelves. Imagine the sugar rush.
Worst: the hungry Horcrux hunt
Of course, such treats were nowhere to be found during the long, hungry months of the Horcrux hunt. In fact, food of any sort was hard to find during those long, hungry months, although Hermione did her best – no thanks to Ron. We can’t blame him for missing Mrs Weasley’s home cooking, but Ron’s attitude during that time was terrible.
The disgusting fish in question here was a pike caught by Harry and roasted by Hermione, with no input at all from Ron, so we can understand Hermione’s anger.
And yet, the impact of serious hunger on a person’s wellbeing cannot be underestimated. For a boy used to three square meals and a bevy of home comforts, hunger clearly exacerbated Ron’s attitude which, when combined with the bleak reality of the Horcrux hunt, had awful consequences.
Best: any Hogwarts feast you can think of
If the gnawing hunger of the Horcrux hunt was Harry’s worst food (or lack-of-food) moment, then picking a best moment is almost impossible. And that is because of the Hogwarts feasts. Those house-elves definitely knew how to prepare a meal.
Take every delicious morsel Mrs Weasley ever cooked, top with sweet treats to rival Honeydukes and serve on a table full of friends, and you have the recipe for a Hogwarts feast. Start-of-term, Hallowe’en, Christmas, that whole Yule Ball order-to-your-plate extravaganza, the end-of-term celebrations. The breakfasts, the sandwiches, the dinners and the puddings – Hogwarts just gave Harry so many delicious moments, it’s a job to narrow it down. But given the life he’d left behind in Privet Drive when he first stepped into the Great Hall, we’d have to say Harry’s first ever Hogwarts welcome feast was probably the best of the best.