Downton Abbey, Pimm’s and kedgeree

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle. Shhhh…behave yourselves….Lady Violet may be watching! Image courtesy of johninportland, Morguefile.

Downton Abbey fans, history lovers and foodies, have I got a book for you. I snagged it off a library shelf, and I’m loving it.

The book is A Year In The Life Of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, And Recipes, by Jessica Fellowes, the niece of Downton Abbey creator and actor Julian Fellowes. It is lavishly decorated with lots of on-set and off-set photographs and subdivided into 12 months, each with a theme. April, for example, is Travel; June is The London Season; September is The House Party; and December is (what else?) Christmas.

The book not only explains the Downton Abbey world in the 1920s era from the servants’ and the gentry’s point of view, so you understand what happened in those worlds and the reasoning behind it. There are also discussions about how the producers and crew recreated that world using different locations, costumes, props and other elements of film performance.

What’s ever nicer is that this book clears up a few culinary mysteries. I’ve heard of a drink called Pimm’s and a food called kedgeree which have been mentioned in several other books with U.K. characters, but I was never quite sure what they were. The book has several recipes, including kedgeree (a type of fish and rice dish eaten for either breakfast or dinner), Christmas pudding, chocolate souffle (oooh, yum!), and Pimm’s (a fruity alcoholic drink often consumed in summer, but I’ll pass on the cucumber).

Some of these recipes I can’t wait to try. Scones or Scottish shortbread, anyone?  I may even try making the lemon barley water, just for fun.

I wish somebody would create a travel experience where you could live in Downton Abbey, costumes and all. There are tours available now, but I’d like to actually live in that environment, just for a week. It would be a tremendously fun educational experience. *sighs*

And for your entertainment: Who’s better with the quick quip — Violet or Isobel? (Video courtesy of Masterpiece PBS, YouTube)

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24 Comments

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24 responses to “Downton Abbey, Pimm’s and kedgeree

  1. drank Pimm’s when I was in university–maybe more available in Canada–I love Isobel!

  2. Not a DA fan, but do appreciate all the attention towards the era. It helps to fully understand the scope of things when exploring through the culinary aspect. Pimm’s? Hmmm–Mr. Pibb’s a relative?

  3. There was a very interesting PBS show, The Manor House, or The Edwardian Manor House, (http://www.pbs.org/manorhouse/) where a modern family was thrust into the world of the Manor House along with a number of other modern Brits in the roles of house servants. I would think, from watching the show, that it would be far FAR better to be the Family (Lord and Lady et al) than the below-stairs people. It was interesting viewing though.

    • Thanks for the link, Ray! I saw that it’s also available on YouTube; I’m going to have serious fun watching it.

      Yep, probably easier to be a Lord or Lady. Or maybe not. It wasn’t quite as backbreaking, but it must have been irritating at times with all the society guidelines.

      There have been other shows, where modern families lived in 1910 conditions and 1940 conditions. Really makes you appreciate modern conveniences!

  4. Loved your look at this book as I am huge DA fan. I’d love to share this to facebook for a friend who doesn’t blog but is also a huge fan of DA…she’d love this book, too. Alas, I don’t see how to share this as in the past.

  5. Jaclyn

    Pimm’s is so fabulous! My summer drink of choice for years now. Hope you enjoy it too!

    And as for your question, I’d have to say Violet. She has ALL the best lines. “What is a week end?” Classic!

  6. Pimm’s Cups are a summertime (or anytime, really) favorite. Around here they’re served with a sprig of mint which is refreshing.

  7. Just watched the 1st episode of this long-running series last night. Wanted to finally see what all the fuss has been about. Better late than never, eh? 😉

  8. How funny- I love Pimm’s Cup and always assumed it was a Southern thing (as I’d only seen it in New Orleans & Memphis before a few years ago). Had no idea it was British in origin! Thanks for setting me straight. 🙂

  9. Maggie is perfect. You feel like she is actually giving you how an older lady of the era is seeing/feeling about all the changes that occurred during her life span. History can be entertaining.

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