My friend Darlene Kunitz posted a comment on her Facebook page that a “Victorian kitchen, with cook and scullery maid, had great potential to be a jolly place”.
I’d never tell Michael this, but when I ask him to find me a pot or to get me a few potatoes from the storage cupboard, I often picture him as my very hairy, very tall, very male scullery maid. Ha! Some of my thoughts should really just remain in my head.
Darlene triggered a memory of an old TV documentary from the end of the 1980’s titled, The Victorian Kitchen. This was a fantastically fun show to watch at the time, and I remember Michael and I being glued to the TV for each episode. We loved it so much, Michael bought me the book of the same title, which I have cherished all these years. I am dismayed to not find it on my bookshelf at the moment, but am absolutely certain I have it still, and just haven’t unpacked it (she says in a highly strained and worried voice).
If, however, I did by mistake donate it to the last Holy Trinity rummage sale, all is not lost. By the miracle of the internet, I found the documentary on You Tube. Yes!
I spent the last 30 minutes watching this first episode. Compared to watching it in 1989, the pace seems much slower, and well, every bit of English as its meant to be. However, if one takes the time to pour a cup of tea (or gin and tonic), puts on their best tweed jacket or pinny, calls for their loyal hound to sit beside them, settles in to their You Tube viewing position, dims the lights, and clicks the link, I promise an entertaining, historical and educational trip down cooking history lane.
Now, if you are more interesting in growing your food instead of manipulating it into things to sip or chew you might enjoy the predecessor to the Victorian Kitchen, the Victorian Kitchen Garden:
Both are remarkable shows, and are particularly helpful if you have been watching Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey, or drift off in a day dream when reading Pride and Prejudice and wonder what Mr. Darcy’s kitchen must be like at Pemberley.