12 July 2011

365 Days of Middle-Earth ~ Day 12: Lembas

Also known as Waybread, lembas was a special food made by the Elves. Brownish on the outside and cream-coloured on the inside, they were cake-like, very nutritious, and when wrapped in leaves would remain fresh for months; as such, they were frequently carried on long journeys. Its secret was closely guarded, and very rarely was the recipe given to anyone non-Elven, as it was believed that mortals who ate it would become wary of their mortality and desire to live among the Elves. It was offensive to creatures of evil; even Gollum refused to eat it. 

History and Origin

The recipe was originally held by Melian, queen of Doriath, who passed it down to Galadriel, who later gave some to the Fellowship of the Ring upon their departure from Lothlórien. It was said that lembas was originally made by Yavanna, one of the Valar, from a special corn which grew in the fields of Aman; Oromë later gave some to the Elves of the Great Journey. 

This Elven custom was therefore typically seen as being exclusive to women; those that knew the secret of its recipe were called Yavannildi (or the Ivonwin by the Sindar the Ivonwin). The custom also requested that only an Elven Queen should keep and distribute the lembas, and for this reason she was called massánië or besain.

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