Cakes and Ale: The Golden Age of British Feasting

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Bloomsbury Academic, Oct 31, 2006 - Cooking - 176 pages

Once upon a time there was a Britain where cakes and ale were considered nutritious and healthy. Late Victorian and Edwardian fleshy figures were further fattened with rich fruit loaf, and ailing ladies imbibed milk stout as a tonic. These were pleasures brought by a new industrial age and the mass-production of food and drink. "Cakes and Ale" is a cultural history of a turn-of-the-century era of feasting, when the first domestic goddesses began cooking in their own kitchens but servants were still on hand for many to mix drinks at glamorous parties. An affluent and leisured new middle class was keen to impress, and working people could enjoy an unprecedented variety of foods and drinks.Manufacturers responded with the glorious printed advertisements and seductive images that illustrate this book and speak volumes about the contemporary social scene. In whisky and beer advertisements gentlemen sport top hats and working men flat caps, Scotsmen always wear kilts and butlers a wily smile. Blazoned alongside them are the plays-on-words that amused and persuaded their audiences.Cookery books were suddenly widely available, with pictures of bowls of punch, crusty pork pies and towering jellies and blancmanges to emulate for seasonal meals. We are what we eat - and drink - and always were. "Cakes and Ale" discovers the lives, the habits and the humour of the Victorians and Edwardians through their sheer enjoyment of feasting.

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one The genteel art of home cooking
two Extravagant entertaining

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About the author (2006)

Judy Spours is a writer and editor specialising in cultural history, art and design. Her publications include Art Deco Tableware: British Domestic Ceramics 1925-1940 and several books about interior design and decoration. She has also written about art, design and food for magazines in the UK and USA.

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