Saturday, October 12, 2013

LOTR Read-Along: A Short Cut to Mushrooms (FOTR Ch. 4)

I don't have a lot to say about this chapter, other than that I absolutely love the title.  It makes me laugh, and it also alerts readers that this is going to be lighter and less exciting than the previous one.  I love mushrooms myself, so I'd definitely like to know of any shortcuts to get to some.

Pippin continues to be concerned about the Black Riders' sniffing, and rather put out that Frodo didn't ask the Elves about it.

This is the chapter where I start to really love Sam.  It chiefly begins with this:
"If you don't come back, sir, then I shan't, that's certain," said Sam.  "Don't you leave him! they said to me.  Leave him! I said.  I never mean to.  I am going with him, if he climbs to the Moon, and if any of those Black Riders try to stop him, they'll have Sam Gamgee to reckon with, I said.  They laughed."  (p. 85)
Oh, Sam.  How perfectly wonderful you are!  I really feel like Sam has the greatest character arc in the whole book.  He goes from humble gardener who's never been out of the Shire to a brave hero who helps save Middle Earth.  Such an amazing guy.

Frodo notices that Sam is already growing and changing.  Shortly after that bit,
Frodo looked at Sam rather startled, half expecting to see some outward sign of the odd change that seemed to have come over him.  It did not sound like the old Sam Gamgee that he thought he knew.  But it looked like the old Sam Gamgee sitting there, except that his face was unusually thoughtful.  (p. 85)
The Sams, they are a-changin'.  (And in case you can't tell, Sam is my second-favorite character in the whole book.)

Favorite Lines:

"I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead, not in the Shire" (p. 85).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Do you like mushrooms?  Any favorite recipes you'd like to share?


  1. I always think I like mushrooms, but am never actually certain that I do; but I would reeaaalllyyy like to try some fried or sauteed mushrooms :) YUM! They sound sooooo scrumptious right now.

    I love Sam too . . . he's so adorable and heroic and humble and he deserves being my favorite :)

    1. I love mushrooms! And they're quite easy to saute -- if you have a frying pan and a wooden spoon, you're set! Buy some sliced mushrooms from the produce section, nothing fancy. If you also have fresh garlic on hand, mince a clove or two. Otherwise, finely cup a couple Tbsp of onions. Heat your frying pan to medium and melt a couple Tbsp of butter in it. Once it's hot, but not browning yet, saute your garlic or onions for about a minute, then add the mushrooms. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on them, about twice as much salt as pepper. Stir every minute or two until they're soft and have changed color on both sides. YUM!

      (Not that you were asking for a recipe, but just thought I'd toss that out there.)

  2. I completely agree about Sam going through the best character arc of any character in the trilogy, and that is one of the reasons why he is my favorite character.

    Mushrooms are not something I like that I that much unless it is on a pizza.


    1. Mmmm, mushroom pizza! Love that too. Especially with extra cheese :-9

  3. No, no mushrooms! Yuck!

    And yes, this is where Sam begins to shine. He does have a wonderful arc, with so much growth, and his determination, strength of heart, love, and courage always amaze me.

  4. I'm -- okay with mushrooms. My dad and brother like them, so we eat them on salads a lot, but I'm pretty ambivalent. I do like the way Tolkien gives his most food-centered people a favorite food, and I wish he'd made a bit more of a theme out of it. He could have brought it up rather effectively later on, I think.

    Yes, Sam does start a tremendous character arc here, and yet his love for his master is the undying constant of his character that keeps him somehow the same underneath all the change. And I love him for it. I also love Frodo for his determination to not take anyone else into danger, but his friends wind up being the wiser -- he cannot do this alone.

    I actually like this chapter quite a lot, particularly a few of these quotes: "Short cuts make delays, but inns make longer ones;" "Frodo said nothing; the shrewd guesses of the farmer were rather disconcerting;" and "Suddenly Frodo laughed; from the covered basket he held, the scent of mushrooms was rising." That last one is quite a good way of dissolving the growing tension and showing that Farmer Maggot has good-naturedly forgiven him.

    This chapter also has a beautiful piece of foreshadowing, perfectly chilling. "A long-drawn wail came down the wind, like the cry of some evil and lonely creature. It rose and fell, and ended on a high piercing note. Even as they sat and stood, as if suddenly frozen, it was answered by another cry, fainter and further off, but no less chilling to the blood." It's a really chilling foreshadowing of the effect the cries of the Nazgul will have in the battles at the end.

    1. I've been blessed with a husband who also loves mushrooms, so we eat them quite a bit :-9 For Thanksgiving this year, we did cook a turkey, but most of our side dishes came from this Hobbity cookbook I have, and so we had mushroom stuffing and mushroom soup :-9

      We like to quote that line about short cuts, especially on long trips with the kids. We just put "McDonald's playplaces" in instead of "inns," and so on.

      As I'm sure you've gathered by now, I came to LOTR backwards -- I saw the movies first, then read the books. So I always have the Nazgul screeches from the movies in my head, and they are freaky and eerie and altogether chilling. Very much as Tolkien wrote them, and very scary.

    2. Your talking about your Thanksgiving reminded me that I do like cream-of-mushroom soup a lot when it's used in recipes like green bean casserole, and when I was young we used to mix it with yogurt, heat it up, and eat it on rice. I really liked that. So I guess there are ways I like mushrooms too. :)

      You have a Hobbity cookbook? How cool. I'm sure the hobbits would have come up with a ton of excellent recipes.

    3. I used to eat cream-of-mushroom soup on rice as a kid too! One of my mom's favorite things to make.

      The cookbook I have is called An Unexpected Cookbook. I reviewed it here a year or two ago. It's lots of fun to read through, and I've really enjoyed making food from it. The author stuck to Tolkien's idea that New World foods other than the potato were unknown in the Shire, and bases most of the recipes off traditional English cooking. I just made "Porter Bread" from it this week to take to a church potluck -- it's like what fruit cake ought to be, tasty and hearty and yummy.


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