“A place for everything and everything in its place”

Banana bread in hand, I visited my grandparents this week after work. Over a nice cup of tea, the chat turned to cooking (ofcourse!) and my Nana dragged out some of her old cookery books – one of which was Mrs Beetons Household Management. How had I never heard of this person before?! The legendary Mrs Beeton was THE original celebrity cook, outselling Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations when her book was first released.

Printed in 1923, our copy has been handed down from my great grandma. The book attempts to cover all aspects of running a home, from recipes to providing a template for being the perfect housewife. Most of the content is completely irrelevant to us now, but it definitely proves for an amusing read!!

Some interesting quotes:

“FRIENDSHIPS SHOULD NOT BE HASTILY FORMED, nor the heart given, at once, to every new-comer”
From the chapter: The Mistress

“LET all the kitchen utensils used in the preparation of invalids’ cookery be delicately and ‘scrupulously clean;’ if this is not the case, a disagreeable flavour may be imparted to the preparation, which flavour may disgust, and prevent the patient from partaking of the refreshment when brought to him or her.”
From the chapter: Invalid Cookery

“I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly-cooked dinners and untidy ways”
From the preface.

The book was published in 1861 by the young Mrs Beetons husband, Sam, who was a publisher (and it turned out a bit of a cad!)  from London. She covered everything that a woman would need to know including being the perfect mistress, management of children (!!!), cookery, INVALID cookery and the hiring and firing of servants.

Mrs Beeton is now a household name and her book became a bible for housewives in managing their day to day lives. Her own life wasn’t quite so perfect though, however tidy and organised she was, Isabella Beeton ened up dying, aged 28…worn out by miscarriages, over-work and her husband – who may have given her syphilis….hmm. Definitely food for thought.

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As a normal person…I find some of the recipes in the book really weird,  including sheeps tongue braised or fried…I mean, I physically shuddered at the thought of this being put infront of me?!!

My grandpa, an ex-butcher/rugger bugger is happy to eat any part of an animal and I have heard stories of how my Nana would curl an Ox tongue into a dish to bake for their supper … I can’t imagine that happening in many kitchens in England now!

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It’s definitely going to prove an insightful read …

The Marvellous Mrs Beeton showed on BBC2 last night presented by Sophie Dahl – worth trying to catch up on.

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