January 9, 2013 in Food

Cookbook helps you cook the Crawley way

Judy Hevrdejs Chicago Tribune
 

“Downton Abbey” is bringing its third season to America and PBS, and sparks are flying at tea. At pre-dinner cocktails. At dinner. In the bedrooms. In the kitchen. Upstairs. Downstairs.

And especially when Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) rolls up to the country estate where her daughter Cora lives with husband Robert, head of the Crawley clan. Robert’s mum Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) to Cora: “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”

Cousin Matthew Crawley: “But isn’t she American?”

Violet: “Exactly.”

The Brit melodrama has spawned countless spoofs. So it’s no surprise a cookbook, liberally seasoned with the Crawleys and their cadre of servants, would surface.

“The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary’s Crab Canapes to Mrs. Patmore’s Christmas Pudding” (Adams Media, $21.95), by Emily Ansara Baines, promises more than “150 recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs.”

Noted on its cover: “This book is unofficial and unauthorized. It is not authorized, approved, licensed, or endorsed by Carnival Film & Television Ltd., its writers or producers, or any of its licensees.”

Fans of the show will enjoy the name dropping and references to the first two seasons, from Mrs. Patmore’s Dropped Roasted Chicken to the Upstairs Anchovy-Onion Tarts. “It’s likely that Lady Mary would stay away from this particular hors d’oeuvres as it would give her bad breath – and then the charming Pamuk might never want to kiss her,” writes Ansara Baines, whose credits include “The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook” and stints in New York and Los Angeles working as a professional baker and caterer.

Bubble and squeak’s there; so are Lancashire hot pot and Bakewell tarts. The author peppered the book with “Times Gone By” and “Etiquette Lessons” sidebars.

While the book has it charms, seasoned cooks and those with a knowledge of English cookery may look askance at a few recipes – shepherd’s pie topped with pastry, not mashed potatoes? And with the Edwardian era fading and Crawley wealth diminishing, the excesses of French food offered seem a bit much for rural landed gentry.


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