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The Jane Austen Cookbooks

Jane Austen and Food by Maggie Lane What was the significance of the pyramid of fruit which confronted Elizabeth Bennet at Pemberley? Or of the cold beef eaten by Willoughby on his journey of repentance to see Marianne? Why is it so appropriate that the scene of Emma’s disgrace should be a picnic, and how do the different styles of housekeeping in Mansfield Park engage with the social issues of the day? While Jane Austen does not luxuriate in cataloguing meals in the way of Victorian novelists, food in fact plays a vital part in her novels. Her plots, being domestic, are deeply imbued with the rituals of giving and sharing meals. The attitudes of her characters to eating, to housekeeping and to hospitality are important indicators of their moral worth. In a practice both economical and poetic, Jane Austen sometimes uses specific foodstuffs to symbolise certain qualities at heightened moments in the text. This culminates in the artistic triumph of Emma, in which repeated references to food not only contribute to the solidity of her imagined world, but provide an extended metaphor for the interdependence of a community. In this original, lively and well-researched book, Maggie Lane not only offers a fresh perspective on the novels, but illuminates a fascinating period of food history, as England stood on the brink of urbanisation, middle-class luxury, and change in the role of women. Ranging over topics from greed and gender to mealtimes and manners, and drawing on the novels, letters and (more…)
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A Platter of Pasties

Pasties were the staple of the working man’s noon meal. Legend holds that the meat filled pastry was brought all over England by miners from Cornwall. Cooks there would place each individuals’ initials in the corner of the the pastie making them easily identifiable to the owner. There were various strategies to eating your pastie– though most included holding it at the seam and eating towards it– this provided and handy way to identify unfinished pieces and avoid getting dirty hands on your lunch. Pasties are a delicious way to warm up on a chilly winter day. Petit Pasties Make a short crust, roll it thick, make them about as big as the bowl of a spoon and about an inch deep; take a piece of veal enough to fill the patty, as much bacon and beef-suet, shred them all very fine, season them with pepper and salt, and a little sweet herbs; put them into a little stew-pan, keep turning them about, with a few mushrooms chopped small, for eight or ten minutes; then fill your petty-patties and cover them with some crust; colour them with the yolk of an egg, and bake them. Hannah Glasse, The Art of Cookery made Plain & Easy, 1792 Pasties with White Wine Sauce 7 oz/ 200 g shortcrust pastry egg wash for glazing 5 oz/ 150 g lean cooked veal or chicken without gristle or bone 5 oz/ 150 g rindless bacon rashers (slices), blanched 1 tablespoon shredded suet salt and pepper (more…)