Eating in-character for Cinderella - what would she eat?
June 11, 2012 10:39 PM   Subscribe

What would Cinderella eat?

In August, I'll be playing Cinderella in Into the Woods, and I'm beyond excited and completely committed to the role. I'm working out and doing more chores, trying to get a bit leaner, and dyeing my copper hair brown (my director wants me to be brunette, and I think dyeing my hair gives me more flexibiity than wearing a wig).

I'd like to, without harming my heath, start eating more like she would, were she real. So what does this mean - obviously salads for health, but, like, brown bread, garden vegetables? What would she drink?

I realize this is an odd question. This is mostly for fun, but it's useful to me, too. (Don't worry - I won't be sleeping on the floor or anything - I'm not that "Method." :P)

posted by lemoncakeisalie to Society & Culture (22 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:43 PM on June 11, 2012 [17 favorites]

There are many versions of Cinderella, from different time periods and countries.

Eat whatever you normally eat and concentrate on the motivations, mindset and relationships of the character in the particular play you're in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 10:54 PM on June 11, 2012 [3 favorites]

I'm reading facts about Cinderella since I became curious after reading your question and learned that Cinderella served all of the animals corn in the beginning of the movie apparently, so you can always eat corn.

Cinderella always had to get rid of ashes too so perhaps you can eat burnt BBQ food like hot dogs or hamburgers. I'd assume for breakfast she was given either porridge or oatmeal.

But, things changed once Cinderella found her prince charming so don't forget to eat a special meal that would be served at a banquet hall to prepare too.

Or as Brandon said, eat what you would normally eat because Cinderella probably had no choice but to eat leftover scraps of food without many options...

Good luck on your play by the way!
posted by livinglearning at 10:59 PM on June 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

@Brandon Blatcher, it's summer and I'm a student. I have so much time to focus on every part of the role. This is just a tiny detail, but my attention to tiny details is how I earned this role, and I enjoy it! :)

@livinglearning, being on a college campus, I could just eat free food whenever possible. :) Thanks!

@Chocolate Pickle, very good idea. :)
posted by lemoncakeisalie at 11:19 PM on June 11, 2012

In the fairytale book I had as a little girl, the stepsisters would give her busywork like throwing a handful of lentils into the fireplace, then having her pick out the still edible ones to make soup.

So two options there:

a) Lentil soup
b) Eat anything you want, but add ridiculous arbitrary steps to the preparation process. Eg, if you're having fruit loops you have to pick out all the blue ones first.
posted by PercyByssheShelley at 11:27 PM on June 11, 2012 [7 favorites]

Oh my gosh! That's perfection! Thank you! :-D
posted by lemoncakeisalie at 11:54 PM on June 11, 2012

She'd probably eat bread (less than fresh) and drink water. And oatmeal.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 12:08 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Have you had a talk with your director about setting? I know it's a fairytale, and it's Sondheim, but if your director wants things to be sort of 18th-century German fantasy, you don't want to throw yourself into a 12th-century English fantasy.

Misery is misery - sad low-protein diets with bits of gritty contaminants are in some ways the same throughout time, but you get variety in the starch. On the other hand, before trade with the New World, a European Cinderella wasn't eating corn (maize), peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, manioc, peanuts, or eggplants. Or chocolate.

The other thought I have is that Cinderella went hungry and ate whatever scraps her stepsisters would spare, but I don't know if Sondheim's sisters were that mean. And it's probably a little much to ask someone to restrict your food for you. (By which I mean, gee, that's kind of creepy, don't do that.)
posted by gingerest at 12:42 AM on June 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Drink plain well water and eat common garden vegetables (very, very locavore) and poor cuts of meat. Cinderella gets what the rest leave to her.

But after you marry your prince, eat and drink like a sailor, because that dude has power and money. Will you be bedding the guy who plays your prince?
posted by pracowity at 1:49 AM on June 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Shelly's answer is correct. In the original Grimm German version, known as Aschenputtel, she eats beans and lentils (and sometimes bread) after they've been thrown into the ashes. In fact, the test her stepmother gives to her when she asks if she can attend the king's ball, is if she can sort plates of ashen lentils in two hours. She enlists the help of doves and turtledoves who do it quickly.

From the original and my translation:

Obendrein thaten ihm die Schwestern alles ersinnliche Herzeleid an, verspotteten es und schütteten ihm die Erbsen und Linsen in die Asche, so daß es sitzen und sie wieder auslesen mußte. Abends, wenn es sich müde gearbeitet hatte, kam es in kein Bett, sondern mußte sich neben den Herd in die Asche legen. Und weil es darum immer staubig und schmutzig aussah, nannten sie es Aschenputtel.

Besides, her (step)sisters did every terrible thing they could. They made fun of her and spilled her beans and lentils in the ashes, so she had to cull them. In the evening when she was tired from working, she had no bed but the ashes in the hearth. And because she always looked so dusty and dirty, she was called Aschenputtel.
posted by saperlipopette at 1:51 AM on June 12, 2012 [6 favorites]

And it's probably a little much to ask someone to restrict your food for you. (By which I mean, gee, that's kind of creepy, don't do that.)

Like others I would agree with others who say that Cinderella would eat whatever was determined by the whim of others. Perhaps sometimes the determination would be made out of spite - but the story seems to be more consistent with general neglect.

So one option would be devise a rule system whereby some action on the part of others (your sisters would be ideal of you have them) arbitrarily determines what you get to eat each day. If they are wearing red then you must not eat any vegetables, if they take a phone call then you get to drink only water, and so on. With this method you do not even need to collaboration of the other people - and that is consistent with the lot of one who is neglected.

Beyond this I would resolve to eat absolutely nothing that does not involve some kind of culinary preparation on your part; nothing processed.

Cinderella's diet, of course, helped her to stay alluringly lean and snag a prince. So document the details for a best selling diet book; it could make you into a rich princess one day!
posted by rongorongo at 1:53 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

Great answers! Thank you!

I'll talk with my director. Thanks!

Will you be bedding the guy who plays your prince?

Funnily enough, we're already close friends who have sex, so yes. XD

That's perhaps a bit too method for me. :-D But I will try to cook from scratch as much as possible. Lentils are easy, yes?

Cinderella's diet, of course, helped her to stay alluringly lean and snag a prince.

I have to think it was despite this leanness rather than because of it that she snagged the prince, given the time period. :)
posted by lemoncakeisalie at 2:03 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

No dessert.

Stale brown bread with no sugar, no butter. Torn, not sliced. Stale crackers. Tepid beer.

Room temperature water.

No tomatoes, no salt.

3-day-old leftovers. Hers wouldn't have been refrigerated, but you need to keep your health up.

Nothing hot -- she'd have eaten after everyone else, and after the dishes were done, so room temperature is pretty much it.

Nothing cold -- if she got a scrap of cheese, it would have been at room temperature.

Turnips, cabbage, probably boiled (with no salt) at room temperature.
posted by amtho at 2:06 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cinderella would eat offcuts. So if the ugly sisters eat bread, she get crusts. If they eat steak, she gets the gristle. If they eat nice fresh vegetables like carrots, she gets the peelings or the carrot tops.

If you want to have a modern take on this, you are going to be eating a lot of soups or stews, a little carbs, and meat very infrequently or not at all. Kinda like a prison diet in some 3rd world countries.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:01 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Funnily enough, we're already close friends who have sex, so yes. XD

If the slipper fits, wear it. So to speak.

Don't take your method acting too far. People die in this play. Eat and drink healthily, and keep clear of the cinders.
posted by pracowity at 3:31 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Cinderella is originally a 2000+ year-old story from southern China (but written down in the Tang Dynasty: I can supply a translation I made six years ago). Yexian's best friend and "fairy godmother" was a fish, so you should avoid eating that. Eat Cantonese food :-)
posted by juifenasie at 4:21 AM on June 12, 2012 [9 favorites]

Room temperature water. Stale brown bread. Porridge, boiled cabbage, lentil soup -- probably without a lot of salt or spices, which were expensive. Some root vegetables. Basically, poor people food from back in the day. I don't see salad being a good option, although I could be wrong. No meat. Maybe a little bit of milk.
posted by J. Wilson at 6:15 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Barley stew with greens and a trace of salted meat was pretty much what was for dinner for most of middle ages in the winter (at least for people who weren't actually wearing a crown, and many who were). Want to add an extra level of austerity? Three words: Medieval Lenten Foods.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 6:20 AM on June 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lentils are mentioned in the book of Into The Woods, aren't they?

I remember a line where she's calling her little bird friends and says, "...and put the lentils into my pot!"

So, lentil soup? Daal?

You might want to warn your friend playing the Baker's Wife to avoid falling trees.
posted by Sara C. at 8:35 AM on June 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Did you know that Cinderella is one of the most varied and retold fairy tales? This says to me that there is enormous freedom to play and interpret. Have you see Ashpet? From that point of view, you'd be looking at grits, beans, and rice.
You might also look at peasant food too. Think soup. What do you do when all you have is scraps and bones and wilty vegetables? Make broth and then turn it into soup. Barley soup, onion soup, etc.
posted by plinth at 9:00 AM on June 12, 2012

Chocolate Pickle: "Gruel."

Yup. Peasant diets throughout medieval Europe (which is roughly where/when most Cinderella stories are staged) consisted mainly of oat, pea, or lentil gruels, with occasional bits of meat, fat, or cut marrow bone for flavor, and of course cooked greens, many of which were wild-gathered (spinach, mustard, and collards will be similar).
posted by IAmBroom at 9:08 AM on June 12, 2012

Re all the "Cinderella is an oft-retold story" -- keep in mind that one of the things that makes Into The Woods a great musical is how specific it is. The characters aren't archetypes, they're specific people with specific motivations, needs, goals, emotions, etc. What Sondheim's Cinderella would eat has no bearing on what some ancient Chinese mythical figure would eat.
posted by Sara C. at 9:18 AM on June 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

« Older princess sparkle   |   How do I deal with someone who may have helped me... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.