Friday, February 8, 2013

Dinner At Downton Abbey

My mother's ability to choose wildly undesirable gifts for her family is notorious and unsurpassed.  So when I received an unexpected bubble-pack envelope from her a few weeks ago, I chortled with the anticipation of finding another French-language cookbook of Hungarian goulash recipes, or a pair of hand-made plastic beaded earrings from one of her Southwestern crafting friends, or the pamphlet from the last museum audio tour she's taken on her travels, or maybe just her latest clothing contribution that she was too lazy to drive past the post office to Goodwill's drop box (all of which I have, in fact, received from her in past years).  

Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and discovered a copy of The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook!  Actually something I might voluntarily select for myself?? I could hear my inner Dowager Countess: "Well, now I've seen ev'rything." 

The author of this shockingly desirable gift, Emily Ansara Baines, also wrote The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, which was the focus of a fabulous dinner party last year.  Ms. Baines' latest contribution to the unauthorized cookbook scene takes on both the Crawleys' refined francophile cuisine in Downton's upstairs dining room (including recipes for each of the 8-13 courses that were de rigueur for a proper meal with service à la Russe, as well as a selection of classic teatime favorites), and the hearty British workingman's fare dished out below-stairs in the servants' hall.   Interspersed with the recipes are snippets of etiquette advice, and historical curiosities related to the recipes and the show's plot lines.  (Disappointingly, there is no recipe for Turkish Delight.)

I foresee at least one Unofficial Downton Dinner Party in my future, though... and Valentine's Day might be just the right occasion to break out some Crawley-style decadence.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post. We seem to have the same mother when it comes to the gifts. I wasn't aware til now that you've been sequestering yourself on Sunday nights- as I. So uch to discuss and ill want to hear more about this proper per cookbook on our next get together!