Sunday, 22 January 2012

A History of English Food by Clarissa Dickson Wright

Another non-kids book from which I shared various nuggets of info with, mainly A. To be fair, I possibly shared them with C too, but he hardly ever looks like he is listening to anything, unless it relates to the current obsession. However, sometimes he surprises me by saying things like "sandwich in Spanish is "bocadillo"", to which I will reply "how do you know?" and he'll say "you told me ages ago". I have to be careful what I say, lest he remembers something he really shouldn't.

Anyway, A was particularly interested in people eating puddings with real meat in, brains and loads and loads of almonds and rosewater (not necessarily at the same time). I was always going to love this book, thanks to my interest in food history, and it didn't let me down. It was detailed and interesting, with just the right amount of anecdote in the main (towards the end it becomes a little "this is what I did in the 1960s"). It fitted really nicely in with random bits of knowledge I acquired when I read At Home by Bill Bryson.

There are some historical recipes at the back which could be fun to try with the kids at some point when I have enough time on my hands to justify making "spiced custard"; and if I can find rosewater in Tescos (which, incidentally, opened its first branch in 1929)

It's quite a weighty tome, but then it's not a small subject area; and it is very interesting to trace trends and waves in food fashion over the centuries. There are interesting hypthoses, such as that the ability of the average person to cook started to diminish in late Victorian times and the early 20th century, with the rise of street food and the trend for women working outside the home.

As for A and C, A spent most of the day reading her First Commuinion guide I Belong. I would have absolutely loved this as a kid; it's a gorgeously illustrated hard-back book with bits to write in and colour. Definitely one to treasure and embarrass her with when she brings boyfriends home! C spent most of the day doing dot-to-dot puzzles from The Greatest Dot to Dot Book in the World. Money well spent!

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