Somehow, I had found myself on YouTube (who ever really knows?) and this great British series about Victorian-era cookery called, “Victorian Kitchen.” The lady, who ran the kitchen and cooked most everything, whilst chastizing her meek girly helper, managed to pluck, hand crank, press, and start fires with the hands of a worker unaccustomed to a hands-up.
Watching her get up in the a.m., while still dark, to come down to the damp, cold kitchen to ready the coal-fired stove (having first to clean out the previous day’s ashes all about the stove and surrounding floor), made this cook keenly aware of how lucky we’ve got it.
Until you’ve watched consumme being made the ‘old-fashioned’ way, with large cheesecloth hammocks held by two strong-armed ladies, ladleing and pressing (alternatingly) the hot liquid to sieve out the impurities over the course of hours, only to make a small tureen of broth for their wealthy employers, you haven’t truly understood how utterly easy and spoiled today’s cookery has allowed us.
I followed a couple of these shows with another brilliant one called, “Manor House,” which follows the lives of modern-day people taking on the lives of those working and living in an Edwardian-era manor. Think, Upstairs-Downstairs. Or, for you youngies, Downton Abbey.
The Food Network, be damned!