Dining with the Brits

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Confession: I’m obsessed with Downton Abbey.

Downton

The fictional British series follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants as major historical events like the sinking of the Titantic and the outbreak of the World War I shift British social hierarchy away from large estates like Downton, reflecting the timeless battle between tradition and progression. The series has been popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland and the United States and has received critical acclaim from the film industry and Golden Globe and Emmy awards.

Some may question how thrilling a drama about a British estate can be…but it’s full of twists and turns and characters you fall in love with, hence my obsession. My semester abroad in England also probably makes me somewhat biased.

London

Theoretically, the members of the Downton staff would have relied heavily on a book called Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management for all types of tasks on the estate. The book was written by an Isabella Mary Mason who began by writing articles on cooking and household management for her husband, Mr. Beeton’s, popular British magazine. In 1861, the supplements were published as a single volume book adding charming insight into Victorian domestic management and instantly becoming a bestseller. The 21-year-old provided incredible knowledge on running a household, but died young at 28 before she could barely run a home of her own. However, her book would live on to help people like the staff at Downton Abbey and it also became increasingly important as traditionally aristocratic women evolved to manage a home on their own. The Crawley girls, particularly Edith, develop independence through the series that could eventually lead them to Mrs. Beeton.

Mrs. BeetonMrs. Beeton2

This week The Valley Café is focused on the classic Victorian British dishes inspired by the cooking tips of Mrs. Beeton. Taste the English dishes served at Downton tomorrow from 11:30-1:30 in the Cabaret!

MrsBeetonMenu

(Photos courtesy of PBS and Vintagecobweb.com)

 

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