Wednesday, September 26, 2012

History and the kitchen

I love details about women's history.... how women worked and lived in the past.  I've been watching a tv  series on YouTube called the Victorian Kitchen.  It's about working in a kitchen on a big estate in that era (sort of like Downton Abby but with none of the intrigue and more focus on the cooking).  In the show, they actually prepare different sorts of meals in a real Victorian kitchen.

Victorian Kitchen episodes

It stars a woman who started life as a scullery maid in such a kitchen and became a cook.  As she cooks, she shares stories from that time in her life.  She was actually working during a post-Victorian time, but apparently kitchen life on big estates stayed the same well past the actual Victorian period.  For example, they continued to cook using wood fires even though gas cook stoves existed.  Their was a distrust of cooking with gas; they thought it would somehow taint the food.  And it was the servants who did all that hard labor anyway so there wasn't much motivation to make life easier for them.

There is another show I like even better about cooking in England during World War II, with rationing and such.  Did you know that one of the first foods that became unavailable in England was the onion?  Imagine how difficult it would be to cook without onions.

Unfortunately only a few episodes of that show are available.  Here is a link for the Wartime Kitchen episodes.

Wartime Kitchen and Garden

We've been watching another show about England in World War II called Foyle's War and there is an episode where someone gets really excited about an onion, which I didn't understand until I learned that onions were mostly unavailable then.

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