The Victorian Kitchen

Jennifer Davies, Author
Jennifer Davies, Author Gloucester $29.95 (191p) ISBN 978-0-563-20685-9
Reviewed on: 12/02/1991
Release date: 12/01/1991
Paperback - 191 pages - 978-0-563-36281-4
Hardcover - 256 pages - 978-1-85089-520-6
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If you've ever wondered how downstairs provided upstairs with all of those elaborate meals, wonder no more. Davies, a BBC producer, has written a meticulously detailed work about the nerve center of the Victorian home--the kitchen. Be warned: this is not a cookbook so much as book about cooking, although some recipes are included. The author explains how the kitchen functioned in an era when industry was expanding but stoves still had to be lit by hand at six o'clock in the morning. Chapters examine the relationship between mistress and servants, the social hierarchy of the kitchen and the sometimes Dickensian conditions under which kitchen maids and cooks had to work to yield the expected bounty. The book is filled with period illustrations and photos from the BBC series of the same name, and includes vivid anecdotes from veterans of Victorian staffs. The few recipes featured are drawn straight from Victorian sources. They have been modernized, but read carefully before trying them. If you do attempt them,, you'll produce a reasonable facsimile of a Victorian dinner--typically, with mulligatawny soup, boiled leg of mutton, potato snow and treacle pudding. Still, after you've made all of these things by hand, you may want to give your microwave a hug. (Nov.)
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