- "Eat little at a time, and only at need. For these things are given to serve you when all else fails. The cakes will keep sweet for many many days, if they are unbroken and left in their leaf-wrappings, as we have brought them. One will keep a traveler on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall men of Minas Tirith."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring, "Farewell to Lorien"
It is said by the Eldar that the art of preparing the Lembas came from the Vala Yavanna as far back to the Elves Great Journey to Aman, when she brought to them a special corn grown on her fields there. These traditions were passed on throughout the long ages from house to house of the High Elves.
Galadriel gave a large store of it to the Fellowship of the Ring upon its departure from Lothlórien. One of the elves commented "[...] we call it lembas or waybread, and it is more strengthening than any food by men, and it is more pleasant than cram, by all accounts." Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee subsisted on it through the majority of their journey from the Anduin River to Mordor.
The bread was very nutritious, stayed fresh for months when wrapped in mallorn leaves, and was used for sustenance on long journeys. Lembas was light brown on the outside, and the color of cream on the inside. It was made of meal that was baked thin and crisp. Gimli thought it was Cram until he tasted it and found that it was sweet and pleasant, unlike Cram. It is also described as a wafer. 
Though the grain used to make Lembas is called corn it is most likely similar to wheat. In early UK history, "corn" was not specific to maize. Since Tolkien wrote "Of Lembas" around the mid 1900's he most likely understood corn to mean grain.
The recipe of lembas was a closely guarded secret, and only on rare occasions was it given to non-elves. Like other products of the Elves, it was offensive to creatures corrupted by evil; Gollum refused outright to eat it.
Portrayal in adaptationsEdit
The Lord of the Rings film trilogyEdit
In Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, the term "lembas bread" is occasionally used; because the gift of lembas at Lothlórien is not included in the theatrical release of The Fellowship of the Ring, the redundant term "lembas bread" was probably chosen in order to immediately identify the substance to filmgoers at the beginning of The Two Towers.
In The Fellowship of the Ring, before departing Lothlórien, Legolas commented to Merry and Pippin that "one small bite is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man." Merry's and Pippin's appetites as hobbits put the power of lembas to the test. Merry asked Pippin how much he had eaten. Pippin responded, "Four", and then belched loudly.
Later on, when Sam and Frodo were travelling alone, they ate chunks of the bread at a time as their only food source.
- In The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), the lembas bread is green on the outside instead of brown (presumably because it is wrapped in Mallorn leaves) and cream colour on the inside.
Behind the ScenesEdit
Tolkien most likely based lembas on bread known as hard tack that was used during long sea voyages and military campaigns as a primary foodstuff. This very un-magical bread was little more than flour and water which had been baked hard and would keep for months as long as it was kept dry. However, Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa wrote in his book Libri tres de occulta philosophia (Book 1, Chapter 13) of a herb from Scythia that allowed people to go for twelve days afterward without any need for food or water. It is also possible that Tolkien based lembas on this description in Agrippa's writings.
It is very possible that Tolkien, a devout Catholic who went to daily Mass at S. Aloysius Gonzaga's, the Jesuit church in Oxford, intended that Lembas should be an allegory of sorts of the Blessed Sacrament of the Altar, that is, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ concealed under the appearances of a very fine and pure wafer of bread, which is present in every Catholic church and is both a sacrificial Victim in the Sacrifice of the Mass and a food for the soul in Holy Communion.
Like the Host, Lembas appears to be a wafer of bread, it ''increases in potency'' as it is mingled less with profane fleshly foods (as also many Saints have lived on the Sacrament alone), it is a spiritual food, strengthening the will and blessing the receiver, no evil can abide it (the possessed cannot receive the Blessed Sacrament and would collapse in convulsions if they tried, equally, those in mortal sin are damned yet again if they dare approach it), and, most interestingly. waybread is a translation of ''Viaticum'' the name given to the Blessed Sacrament when given to the dying as food for that last and most perilous journey.
The facts about Tolkien in the above two paragraphs are taken from the biography by H. Carpenter. The interested reader, on account of the disastrous state of the Church Militant at present, where most clergymen cannot be trusted to even perform valid Sacraments and very likely teach heresy, is referred on to the Canons Regular of S. Augustine in Kent, as being both strictly orthodox in belief and very gentle in manner.
Translations around the WorldEdit
|Foreign Language||Translated name|
|Chinese (Hong Kong)||蘭巴斯|
|Korean||딴 곳 ?|
|Serbian||Лембас (Cyrillic) Lembas (Latinised)|
|Uzbek||Лембас (Cyrillic) Lembas (Latinised)|
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 The History of Middle-earth, Vol. XII: The Peoples of Middle-earth, chapter XV: "Of Lembas"
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter VIII: "Farewell to Lórien"
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter IX: "The Great River"
- ↑ Gibson, L., & Benson, G. (2002). Origin, History, and the Uses of Corn (Zea Mays). Retrieved from http://agron-www.agron.iastate.edu/Courses/agron212/readings/corn_history.htm
- ↑ The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, Book Six, Chapter I: "The Tower of Cirith Ungol"