Monday, March 30, 2009
Mrs. Beeton Cooks Up The Victorian Of The Month!
“Gruel served in a tumbler is more appetizing than when served in a basin or cup and saucer."
—from A Few Rules to be Observed in Cooking for Invalids
Isabella Beeton was born in 1836 in the charmingly named neighbourhood of Cheapside, in London. She married publisher Samuel Orchard Beeton in 1856.
Mrs. Beeton was an accomplished pianist, but is best known for writing The Book of Household Management. The book began as a series of magazine supplements before being published as a single volume. It was actually called The Book of Household Management Comprising Information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc. — Also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: With a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort. It was 1,112 pages long.
The Book of Household Management covers many topics, such as “General Observations on Beverages,” “General Observations on Quadrupeds,” “Sauces, Pickles, Gravies and Forcemeats: General Remarks” and “The Natural History of Fishes.” There are more than 900 recipes in all, including almost 100 soups, 200 sauces and 128 recipes for fish. Mrs. Beeton fed her soup to the poor children of Hatch End and Pinner during the winter of 1858. In her free time, she wrote Beeton’s Book of Needlework.
Do not be fooled! Like so many Victorians, Mrs. Beeton's life was marred by tragedy. Her father died when she was young. Her first child died in 1859. After the birth of her fourth child, at the age of 28, Mrs. Beeton died of puerperal fever, too.