Cooking Dickens’ Inspired Dishes
DISCOVER THESE VICTORIAN MEALS INSPIRED BY CHARLES DICKENS’ FAMOUS CHARACTERS.
Discover and recreate Victorian meals inspired by Charles Dickens’ famous characters.
Charles Dickens is one of the most famous, and celebrated, writers of the 19th century. His novels not only provide entertainment, but also give us a glimpse into the reality of the society in which he lived. In Pen Vogler’s book Dinner with Dickens, the author teaches how to create Victorian recipes inspired by Charles Dickens’ characters. These recipes are great fun for Dickens fans, and history buffs will enjoy Volger’s commentary that gives insight into the implications of each dish, and what it says about the character’s feelings or position in society.
For those excited by authenticity, Volger provides the original instructions for each recipe alongside her modern adaptations. Some of the recipes even come from Dickens’ wife, Catherine, who published her own recipe book during the Victorian era. While many of us might love to try our hand at cooking with a coal stove, it’s probably not an option available to most of us. Volger keeps the dishes true to history, but still accessible to the modern-day cook, by translating the steps with a realistic approach. Some recipes are for experienced cooks, like the time-consuming raised pie, but many dishes translate wonderfully to modern dinner parties, like the batter pudding.
Dinner with Dickens adds an extra layer to Dickens’ beloved novels by elaborating on the depth and importance of the referenced foods and drinks in his work. If you want to know what poor characters like those in Oliver Twist were eating, look no further than the rabbit pie recipe; or if you’re in a more luxurious mood, pay homage to the classic Dombey and Son feasts by recreating the orange and redcurrant jellies served at the wedding breakfast of the title character. Don’t be deceived by the food’s simple appearance—the entire process is long and takes much care and preparation, as one would expect of a dish served at a high society wedding.
MORES AND MANNERS
Dickens often straddles the fine line of being part of society and criticizing the very times in which he lived. The enjoyment of food in his novels is typically accompanied by the reminder that the lower class was suffering and starving while great feasts were taking place in upper class homes. The events of Oliver Twist, for example, were inspired by all-too-real events in Dickens’ childhood when he worked in a factory. Volger provides a gruel recipe if you’re curious to taste what sustained many impoverished people of the Victorian era. While she acknowledges that this isn’t the tastiest dish in her book, its presence adds to the historical validity she carefully maintains throughout.
If you’re a fan of the Victorian era, there’s no escaping the fact that Charles Dickens was a pivotal figure during this time, revered for creating stories about people, for the people. We have his novels to thank for literary enjoyment, but as Volger points out in Dinner with Dickens, we can also thank Dickens for his insight into a history that is complicated, beautiful and diverse.
Create an elegant and colorful dessert with Volger’s recipe for the “Highly Geological Homemade Cake.” Add rose petals to the top of your cake for extra flair.
For a savory delight, try the “Roast Goose” recipe. Pay homage to A Christmas Carol with this tasty and classic dish.
Dinner with Dickens by Pen Volger, published by Cico Books, © 2017; rylandpeters.com.