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English Cookery is always in search of its identity. This book offers some clues in respect of particular dishes or types of food. Not that these are the only markers of Englishness, but taken altogether they do point to some of our most enduring culinary characteristics, perhaps none more so than the pudding. Laura Mason does a good job of account for the rise of the boiled pudding wrapped in its floured cloth that so typifies the glory-days of Victorian cookery. The blancmange, too, now something that strikes horror in the breast of the upstanding Englishman, might wave a flag for the wonders of the pink and jellified mould that so handsomely adorned the tables of our Edwardian grandparents. Olios and fricassees are indeed of foreign origin - not British at all - but Gilly Lehmann shows how their adoption and adaptation in seventeenth and early eighteenth century kitchens lays bare the true nature of English cookery (not actually very good). Soups, broths and pottages are shared by all nations of the world but each has taken its own particular line with this form and Eileen White describes the development of this essential preliminary to dinner more clearly that hitherto.
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