The Official Downton Abbey Cookbook

Annie Gray. Weldon Owen, $35 (256p) ISBN 978-1-68188-369-4
Food historian Gray (Queen Victoria: The Greedy Queen, Eating with Victoria) does more than simply collect recipes popular from 1912 to 1926 in this fun and astute tie-in to Downton Abbey. In a cogent introduction, she describes the technological advances of the era, such as the electric toaster and the move to a more “pared-down” cuisine, albeit one still lavish and complex to modern eyes: “sauces took only a few hours, rather than a few days, to prepare.” Reflecting the class divisions depicted on the show, the selections are divided into “upstairs” and “downstairs” dishes, i.e., fare fit for aristocrats (truffled eggs; filet mignon) and a shorter selection of simpler options for the servants (Toad-in-the-Hole; steak and kidney pudding). Helpful lists of common ingredients and those that are less so (such as suet and mushroom ketchup, which can be purchased online) and sure-footed instructions ensure that the recipes are usable. There are methods for the lobster “cutlets” (croquettes with lobster legs inserted as bone stand-ins) from jilted Edith’s wedding breakfast, as well as the deviled sheep’s kidneys served to Cora’s American mother (played by Shirley MacLaine) in season three. The volume is amply illustrated with stills from the TV production as well as snippets of dialogue, but Gray’s thoughtful and informed prose elevates it from mere tie-in to a truly useful work of culinary history. (Sept.)
Reviewed on : 09/03/2019
Release date: 09/17/2019
Genre: Lifestyle
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