I love oddball cookbooks. Reprints of eighteenth century housewife guides, recipes from Martha Washington’s kitchen, Shaker cookbooks, I love them. I also enjoy modern cookbooks with an unusual spin.
At the library I stumbled across The Unofficial Downton Abby Cookbook. I haven’t watched a lot of the show, but I enjoy its theming. For a cooking buff, it is a fun look at a type of cooking that very few of us encounter in our lives. For a history buff, it is interesting to see the sort of things people in manor houses ate.
From the practical standpoint, however, its usefulness is limited. Many of the recipes require ingredients that would be hard to track down. Not many neighborhood groceries stock caviar, duck fat, or squab. Quite a few call for very expensive things like lobster or leg of lamb. Still, I will admit it is fun to drool over the thought.
Not surprisingly, the recipes I found the most likely to be useful were in the section called “Sustenance For The Staff”. It too has its share of things I can’t ever see myself making – Boiled Beef Tongue, anyone? – but has quite a few that sound doable.
My final opinion? It has a lot of fun things in it for fans of the show, or lovers of Edwardian history, but not a lot for the average cook looking for recipes for regular use.
Here are some sample recipe names to give you an idea of the range of food included.
Caviar Cucumber Canapes
Classic Oyster Rockefeller
Lady Sybil’s Poached Salmon with Creamy Hollandaise Sauce
Lobster with Mornay Sauce
Roast Quail with Fig Sauce
Dark Desires Chocolate Cake
Sweet Cream Scones
Lancashire Hot Pot
Classic Steak and Kidney Pie
Tweeny’s Tipsy Cake
This was originally posted on my old blog, Middle Class Poor.