I have never made any secret of my love for cookery books. In fact it probably verges on obsession. Well, that's what the Toddster thinks at any rate. Most evenings I crawl into bed with a good one or two and I get so much pleasure and inspiration from perusing their pages . . .
But what you probably don't know is I am also vastly interested and intrigued in the history of food and the chemistry behind it. Yes, I am one of those sad people who can sit and ponder for hours on such questions as who was it decided that eggs were good enough for human consumption and just how the miraclulous wonder of cake baking came to pass!
Recently I was sent a beautiful book to read and review entitled "At the King's Table, Royal Dining Through the Ages, by Susanne Groom. I have been enjoying it so very much, especially since I recently discovered my own ancestral Royal Connections! This delightful book is an exploration, both visual and written, of the history of royal dining, dating from the somewhat primitive kitchens of the middle ages on up to the informal dinner parties held by the Royals of today's world.
It begins with a foreword written by the Master of Culinary Chemistry, Heston Blumenthal, and what follows are ten delightful chapters which take the reader on a journey through the kitchens and diets of Monarchs from Richard the Second, on up to the present day Queen Elizabeth and her family. (I have to say my connection with all of this is through Richard the Third )
"The aim of the subtlety was to combine magic and food, and to astonish. A peacock might be served in it's plumage, or swans served swimming in pastry ponds. Real birds might even be hidden at the last moment in pies, to fly into the air as soon as the crust was cut."
Interspered throughout between the discourses on the table manners of the royals through the ages, the earliest cookery books, unscrupulous dealings, flamboyent chefs, etc. are some 200 illustrations and menus from a plethoria of State Banquets and extravagent dinners.
Little tidbits of royal likes and dislikes and food fetishes and fads of the ages, and their implication on the diets of ordinary folk.
I found it compelling reading to say the least. And, no pun intended . . . I have devoured it with gusto!
Having worked as a Personal Chef myself, I was fascinated by the requirements and duties of Royal Chef's and the wonderful little tidbits shared within this lovely book's pages.
In short, I have found it to be a complete delight from start to finish. One of my favourite books ever.
If you are looking for a different sort of book to give that culinary "Foodie" in your life for Christmas, look no further. It's hard to purchase a cookbook for a "Foodie" actually. It's very difficult to know which ones they already have. I predict that this book will delight, amuse and fascinate any culinary "Foodie" on your gift list, not to mention anyone who has a penchant for history.
At the Kings Table
Royal Dining Through the Ages
by Susanne Groom
forward by Heston Blumenthal
Published by Merrell
(In association with Historic Royal Palaces)
I have found it on Amazon.uk for as little as £14.34 and on Amazon.com for $24.44.
Many thanks for the people at Merrell for sending me this book to read and review. All opinions and views are my own and are in no way influenced.