What did Dick­ens tuck into for his Vic­to­rian Christ­mas? We find out...

Dick­ens’s re­la­tion­ship with food, and Christ­mas spe­cial­i­ties pigs in blan­kets and bub­bles come un­der the spot­light this week.

Kentish Express Ashford & District - What's On - - COMPETITION - By Angela Cole

He was the au­thor of Christ­mas as we know it, so what would you have if you wee sit­ting down to Christ­mas din­ner with Charles Dick­ens? Food Glo­ri­ous Food: Din­ner with Dick­ens explores food in Dick­ens’s life from recipes re­cov­ered at his home, and the most sig­nif­i­cant food scenes in his nov­els, as well as first-hand ac­counts of din­ing with Dick­ens and a host of Vic­to­rian food trends, treats and flavours.

The ex­hi­bi­tion runs at the Charles Dick­ens Mu­seum in Doughty Street, Blooms­bury - Dick­ens’s Lon­don town­house and his first fam­ily home – un­til April.

The ex­hi­bi­tion also marks the 175th an­niver­sary of the pub­li­ca­tion of A Christ­mas Carol, and looks at the au­thor’s en­dur­ing in­flu­ence on the cel­e­bra­tion of the fes­tive sea­son, with the house dressed for Christ­mas as it would have been in his day. It shows his din­ner par­ties - es­sen­tial food for his imag­i­na­tion - and his child­hood mem­o­ries of hunger and his be­lief that rich and poor alike had the right to en­joy food and drink. The ex­hi­bi­tion is packed with culi­nary items used by Dick­ens and draws on let­ters and first-hand ac­counts by his din­ner guests to build a vivid pic­ture of the ex­pe­ri­ence of en­joy­ing din­ner with him. It was at Doughty Street that Dick­ens cre­ated Oliver Twist, a novel which re­volves around hunger and the need for food - the plight of or­phan Oliver Twist re­flects the hard­ship of Dick­ens’s own child­hood - some­thing which re­mained a se­cret un­til af­ter his death.

Some sur­pris­ing recipe com­bi­na­tions are re­vealed - such as steak and tur­tle - and con­jures images of Vic­to­rian street food sell­ers and the pubs where Dick­ens dined. Dick­ens ap­pealed to his read­ers to show why chil­dren should have de­cent food. When Oliver Twist says to Mr Bum­ble “Please sir, I want some more” it would be against the strict rule in work­houses against sec­ond help­ings. Vis­i­tors can also see the Vic­to­rian din­ing ta­ble, fea­tur­ing items used by Dick­ens and his fam­ily and the large wooden le­mon squeezer he used to pre­pare his favourite punch. Food Glo­ri­ous Food is at the Charles Dick­ens Mu­seum un­til April 22, 2019.

For tick­ets visit dick­ens­mu­seum.com or call 020 7405 2127. En­try is £9.50 and £4.50 for chil­dren from six to 16.

A new ex­hi­bi­tion shows how Kent au­thor Charles Dick­ens lived and en­ter­tained - es­pe­cially at Christ­mas

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