Part cookbook, part History Channel and part “Downton Abbey” gossip, Downton Abbey Cooks gives insight into Britain’s culinary history that seems long past, but played an incredibly important role in the life of the landed gentry.
“Edward VII has an enormous appetite for food, wine, sport and women,” Foster explained. “The aristocracy followed his lead in using food and entertainment as a way to show wealth and power in society. The best of everything was demanded. I love how food always plays a part in the plot lines, whether the large dinner parties or intimate scheming over tea.”
Indeed, it does seem like most of the drama in “Downton Abbey” unfolds in the dining room, the parlour, or the kitchen: the Countess and Dowager Countess scheme over steaming cups of tea; the cook, Mrs. Patmore, refuses to make what she considers a newfangled dish (Apple Charlotte); Branson, the revolutionary chauffeur, tries to make a stand by pouring slop (concealed in a magnificent silver soup tureen, of course) all over a British general during an official dinner; and Carson, the butler, nearly has a heart attack from the strain of keeping up appearances during the war — No footmen! What a nightmare.
Foster has tried her hand at nearly every recipe depicted in the Emmy-winning show, and even provides instructions for her own twists on ideas for “Downton”-themed events.She started by cooking the colossal menu served on the last night of the Titanic, whose sinking kicks off the first season.
“The 100th anniversary of the Titanic was remembered this year and I suspected that many would be looking for guidance to have a Titanic tribute dinner so for some odd reason I saw fit to list and then cook through all three classes of service on that last fateful night,” Foster said. “I have the greatest respect for the chefs in those kitchens to have prepared all those menu items. It took me a few months, and relied in part of the great Canadian book The Last Dinner on the Titanic.”