All this month, I’ve been participating in the North and South readalong. If you’ve never done a readalong before, I highly recommend it. It’s much more interactive than a book club where you just discuss a book once after everyone has read it; instead you get to share thoughts and impressions of the book as you go. Lots of fun!
Anyway, as the book was written and is set in Victorian England, you can imagine that the eating habits of the characters are somewhat different from our more modern ones. Here’s an example of a tasty treat which a character enjoys :
Mr. Bell, whose appetite had returned, and who appreciated Dixon’s endeavours to gratify it, in vain urged upon her to taste some sweetbreads stewed with oysters; she shook her head with the same quiet obstinacy as on the previous day; and he was obliged to console himself for her rejection, by eating them all himself.
Mmm–sweetbreads stewed with oysters! Got to get me some of that!! Seriously, even if I were a big fan of oysters, I think I’d have a hard time being tempted by sweetbreads, which are “culinary names for the thymus or the pancreas, especially of the calf and lamb (although beef and pork sweetbreads are also eaten)” (definition courtesy of wikipedia.com). Thank you, Mrs. Gaskell, but like Margaret I think I’ll pass. That leaves more for Mr. Bell!
My curiosity of Victorian cuisine now being piqued, I decided to investigate some more. I found lots of sites that feature recipes and a whole series on youtube entitled ‘Victorian Kitchen’. Has anyone seen this before?
I also found an article about a Victorian kitchen that was uncovered in the UK and which hadn’t been touched in 60 years! Hopefully, there weren’t any stray sweetbreads lying about–that would make for quite a stink, I imagine.
I’m now officially a little bit obsessed and am going to have to go hunting for an authentic Victorian cookbook, like the Mrs. Beeton’s pictured above.
Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs…