As a short aside following my last post about class culture in Britain and France, I came across a BBC documentary series highlighting an intricate recipe for foie gras set in the backdrop of a wonderful British manor. Because the recipe requires certain centuries-old kitchen paraphernalia, I won’t try to replicate the recipe. It’s a fabulously detailed foie gras with aspic jelly and the presentation is nothing less than incredible. If only we had the time to do this sort of thing nowadays. I thought those of you who enjoy cooking and history might be interested in watching this video.
The series is narrated by a couple of very excitable British personalities who are on a quest to retrace the voyage Princess Victoria embarked upon to visit the large country houses of the aristocracy in the years before she became queen. One of the hosts, an antiques expert, walks us through the great houses upstairs, while the other, a professional chef, opens up the downstairs world and in particular the kitchens.
You can find the rest of the series on Youtube, if you’d like to continue watching. The one I’m presenting to you here takes place at Holkham Hall in Norfolk, the ancestral seat of Viscount Coke. If you’ve seen the 2008 film The Duchess with Keira Knightley, you might recognize the marbled entrance at Holkham. The recipe we discover downstairs in the grand kitchens is a marvel demonstrating how time-consuming and meticulous the menus were in the early 19th century.