Friday, March 15, 2013

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook

The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook : From Lady Mary's Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding - More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs 

by Emily Ansara Baines

This cookbook features recipes for fine dining in the manner of the Crawleys and their servants. There are sections for each course and each meal both upstairs and down. Each recipe is accompanied by either a pairing for wine, cheese or other dishes; an etiquette lesson or a brief history lesson. The recipes are adapted for modern cooks using measurements and modern kitchen appliances. The recipes for the upstairs family are so fancy, most people are unlikely ever to make them. The only practical meal they eat is tea, which features lovely recipes for scones, clotted cream, tea sandwiches and more. The food eaten below stairs is more typical of British pub food today: Bangers and Mash; Toad in a Hole; Bubbles and Squeak; Treacle Tart, etc. I don't see modern American cooks making any of those dishes in their kitchen either. Some of the more working class foods are slightly more practical. Some of the recipes didn't become popular until after World War I or during World War II, so I'm not sure what they're doing in a Downton Abbey cookbook since the show will end before the Second World War. Many of the recipes are named after characters on the show but really have nothing to do with those characters. The descriptions lean towards cute comments about the characters' personalities and why they would or wouldn't like that dish or why that dish should be served. I personally didn't care for this. It made the cookbook seem to juvenile and far fetched to really be a Downton Abbey cookbook.

There are no photos of the dishes so you have to cook according to the directions and hope your version turned out all right. This book would have been much better for visual learners accompanied by photographs.  I also would have liked to have seen a period recipe followed by the modern adaption.

My favorite part were the etiquette tips and the historical facts.  I noticed a few editing errors that should have been corrected. Those sorts of things really bother me. 

I don't feel this book is worth buying but if you can get it from the library, it's worth a look. 

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