Sylvia McArdle & Stephanie Hannus
Disputes, money, love; it’s all happening on Downton Abbey. Whether you’re shocked by Lady Edith and her farm boy or still devastated by Lord Robert’s unthinkable affair with a war widow, there’s lots to talk about surrounding the Emmy Award-winning show, and we’re interested to know what’s going on the kitchen.
What were the Crawleys eating, anyway? Turns out, we weren’t the only ones who wanted to know. New York Times best-selling author Emily Ansara Baines is not only an avid fan of the aristocratic series, but she also became enthralled with the rules and etiquette of the wealthy-class society, and by what their food meant to them.
"While watching the show, I was fascinated by all the rules — both written and unwritten — that governed the Crawley's society. Why couldn't Daisy be seen in the dining room? Why was one footman position more prestigious than another?" she explains.
Among all of the table settings and society rules, she noticed the food that Mrs. Patmore was making and Mr. Carson served, and how it showcased the grandiose lifestyle of the characters. She started with the facts, researching etiquette guides and poring over historical cookbooks that shed light on old British living. With an understanding of early 20th-century England, she examined the series through a new lens and found that through all of the class differences, there was an underlying unified sense of pride in the food. Her book The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook is a representation of all that she found and provides realistic and authentic recipes for you to enjoy in the spirit of the show.
These aren’t just recipes that were popular during that time period, though, but ones that have roots in the grand kitchen found on the estate. You’ll find these recipes are appropriate for everyone on Downton Abbey, whether they could be enjoyed by Daisy during an after-Christmas visit, guests at a garden party, or at a casual Crawley family dinner. Each recipe is delicious, and showcases how the Crawleys' lavish lifestyle was portrayed on their plates as well. Put class structure aside and get your hands dirty in the kitchen with these traditional English recipes.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce