Eat Like You’re A Crawley – The Food of ‘Downton Abbey’

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(C) Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE)

(C) Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE)

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Culinary historian Pamela Foster started her own blog after watching a marathon of Downton Abbey with her husband.

Though he, who she affectionately calls Lord D. was the original fan in her household, she soon became interested in every meal and cup of tea the Crawley’s sipped. She began wondering if other fans were interested in exploring the cuisine of the era.

With her blog, Downton Abbey Cooks, and new cookbook, Abbey Cooks Entertain, she combines food and history, while offering fans of the show original recipes that recreate the meals of the era.

“I hoped to inspire cooks to bring a touch of Downton elegance to their own Abbey,” she told Radio.com. “And to take pointers from thrifty country house cooks like Mrs. Patmore who cooked seasonally and preserved the excess for the long winters.”

When it comes to the food on the show, Foster says creator Julian Fellows has been spot on with his luxurious dinners of multiple courses.

“The Edwardian era was a time when food was used by the aristocracy to display wealth and power,” she explained. “Many deals and political alliances were forged across the dining table.”

When season three, which premieres January 6 in the United States, first begins it is 1920. World War I is over and rationing is no longer in effect.  But that didn’t mean those in the English upper class were ready to expand their palates. For families like the Crawleys maintaining traditions and keeping appearances was much more important.

“The British Empire had already brought flavor influences from all over the world,” Foster explained. “So within the walls of this great house they tried their very best to keep high standards for cuisine served.”

The working class though embraced packaged foods, which were easy to make for those who had little time to cook.

Another item that will make things a little easier for the cooking staff at Downton is the introduction of the electric toaster, which was actually invented in 1893 by Crompton and Co. in the United Kingdom.

This season fans will also see the Crawley’s enjoying a bit of what we’ve come to know as Jell-O.

Foster says it was the great French chef of the Edwardian era, August Escoffier, who started the jiggly jelly phase, which comes into play during several episodes this season.

When it comes to Foster’s favorite gelatin dessert, she says she likes wine jelly, which was served as a palate cleanser.

“It is a grown up version of Jell-O shots,” she said.  “It is an easy dish for beginners to learn and adds a touch of class to your dinner.”

Check out more of Foster’s Downton-inspired recipes in her new cookbook, Abbey Cooks Entertain, out now.

Watch Downton Abbey every Sunday on PBS.

- Shannon Carlin, Radio.com


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