Weekend Cooking: North and South

Mrs Beeton’s Family Cookery by lvvl °ω°, on Flickr

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?

Cooking, Dining, and the Art of the Victorian Table

Victorian Cooking Recipes

Victorian Food Facts

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…


18 thoughts on “Weekend Cooking: North and South

  1. Chinoiseries

    I discovered the North and South read-along a bit too late, but will definitely read it one of these days… wow, Victorian cooking 🙂 Please do post more about it on Weekend Cooking, would love to see what the Victorians were eating (and I also wonder what the Georgians – like Jane Austen – were eating for their super-early dinners?)!

  2. Marg

    I would be passing on the sweetbreads too!

    Have you ever see The Supersizers Go …. They did a Victorian episode which you can watch on Youtube.

    1. Beth Post author

      We don’t have that show here, but it sounds familiar so I must have heard of it somewhere. I will definitely check it out!

  3. Beth F

    I like oysters but sweetbreads don’t really do it for me either. I have a replica Mrs. Beatons. I also have two old cookbooks from the 1800s that I found in used bookstores in the UK. So interesting to read.

    That episode you shared looks great. I’ll have to come back to watch the entire thing.

  4. Fay

    How nice it would be to have a work table like the one in the photo. I have been reading Mrs. Beeton off and on. There is a free Kindle edition, and the whole book is available online too. It is fun to dip into occasionally. So much history and not just about food. She laid down rules for running the household that tell a lot about the Victorian social world.

  5. Carole

    You know I may have to give North and South another go. I remember starting it many years ago and for some reason abandoning it – which is most unusual for me. Have a great week.

    PS Just to let you know that I run a monthly series called Books You Loved. The current one is the August edition and a new edition will go up about the 10th Sept. If you would like to contribute, you would be more than welcome

    1. Beth Post author

      You should definitely try it again, Carole. There’s a bit where the plot gets bogged down with the strike, but once you get past that it’s clear sailing. I’ll stop by and check out your series–thanks for the invite!

  6. Cecelia

    Sweetbreads! That reminds me of a family reunion we had… oh, about 5 years ago. Someone unearthed an old Yale dinner menu from the 1910s (that would have been my great-grandfather’s), and it had oysters AND sweetbreads on it. We rounded up all the ingredients and had a vintage dinner. It was quite the experience – and great fun!

  7. Pingback: Sunday Salon: The August Wrap-Up | Too Fond

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