The Jane Austen Cookbook

September 7, 2010 · Posted in Bestselling Cooking Books 

Product Description
Jane Austen wrote her novels in the midst of a large and sociable family. Brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews, friends and acquaintances were always coming and going, which offered numerous occasions for convivial eating and drinking. One of Jane’s dearest friends, Martha Lloyd, lived with the family for many years and recorded in her “Household Book” over 100 recipes enjoyed by the Austens. A selection of this family fare, now thoroughly tested and moder… More >>

The Jane Austen Cookbook

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5 Responses to “The Jane Austen Cookbook”

  1. A. Woodley on September 7th, 2010 9:05 pm

    This is a lovely and shortish introduction to cooking and culture of eating and entertaining for the late Georgian period when Austen was alive. I loved the fact that this was about cooking and eating rather than some of the less universally approachable subjects (letters, literary criticism). Maggie Black and Deidre Le Faye have both written Jane Austen style and culture type books before so both understand the period and are able to draw on a large resource of appropriate information.

    The introduction is very much about how people ate – what was available, how it got to houses, and why this was so. There is some division by class (upper class, middle class and lower class are all discussed) but also the divisions by Geography – whether coastal with access to fresh fish, or inland – how food was transported, and even in terms of access to market towns. Even 5 miles away was almost impossible for those trying to get up a dinner from ‘scratch’ so to speak if someone was coming around.

    The introduction also talks about the types of food and dishes which were eaten, and that the whole culture of dining was completely different. Not only were meal times different, but how they dined. The explanations are simple and there is good use of quoted material throughout, the diaries and letters of the time providing a strong and occassionally humourous voice.

    Where possible leFaye and Black have used diaries and ‘receipts’ from Austen’s friends and family and point out that in the days before recipe books were published these books of receipts would be handed down from mother to daughter and one family’s speciality would be renowned – they were truly heirlooms.

    The last section of the book is a collection of recipes – these are taken from books of reciepts. The original receipt is usually fairly interpretative, that is the measurements are not generally noted, nor how to put them together or cook them. So there has been experimentation and the recipe is re-written with the details put in. These essentail details would have been handed down in a practical manner, but in the days before temperature gauges you would have needed to rely on simple temperature variations, quick, moderate and slow oven to dictate just when to cook it.

    Most of these recipes are actually very useable for today – they don’t have many potted meats, but mostly roasted meats, cakes, egg dishes and still room crafts. There are some things we dont’ see these days like Syllabub – which is quite tasty

    There are other books of this kind around – Margeretta Ackworth’s cookbook for instance, which is interesting too – but I would recommend this is a good modern cookbook and an interesting historical look at the culture of food in this period.
    Rating: 5 / 5

  2. Anonymous on September 7th, 2010 9:33 pm

    While this cookbook may not be exactly suited to the demands of every day dinner making, it does serve as a great lesson in early 19th century custom and way of life. The recipes it contains are fun as well as elegant, and many of them are taken right from the pages of EMMA, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and the rest of the Austen classics. Most of the ingredients are simple and relatively easy to find, and you’ll find that making Mrs. Norris’ Strawberry Creme Pudding is worth every effort. So, put on some Madrigal music, don a linen frock and your best English country accent and fall into the real world of Austen– as only food can create it!
    Rating: 4 / 5

  3. Linore Burkard on September 7th, 2010 10:47 pm

    If you call yourself a Janeite then you must have this book! It is a great recipe book from the period with many that can be easily reproduced in your own kitchen! (How better to experience the times than to try to recreate a touch of it?) The commentary is interesting and useful and each author, I find, sheds some light on the life and times of Jane in a way that no one else has quite managed, and Ms. Black is no exception. I am just beginning my culinary jaunts using recipes from this book, and I have already highlighted a great deal of “Must tries”. If you like cooking, experimenting in your kitchen, vintage recipes, or JA herself, you will truly appreciate this book!

    Linore Rose Burkard

    Author, Before the Season Ends

    (A Regency Romance)
    Rating: 5 / 5

  4. Cheryl F. on September 8th, 2010 12:29 am

    This cookbook is charming. It has useful recipes in it, along with modern-day interpretations of the recipes, and interesting stories about food. It even explains how people preserved and bought food in Jane Austen’s day. That is quite interesting, I love to learn more about lifestyles in different historical eras. It’s not only a cookbook, it’s a history book. It’s worth it, you won’t be disappointed!
    Rating: 5 / 5

  5. Rose Oatley on September 8th, 2010 2:51 am

    Any fan of Jane Austen’s novels would do well to read, or at least sample, this book. Austen’s work is the story of domestic life of her time, and this book provides a lot of useful information about an important context of her novels: food, meals, and dining. What is a nuncheon? How do cooks cope without refrigeration? And how, specifically, does one prepare many of the foods familiar to Austen’s world? This book addresses these questions, in a well-written and well-researched style. It is physically attractive, and soundly based on contemporaneous records and recipes (‘receipts’) of the time, although these were recorded in ways foreign to us.
    Rating: 4 / 5

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