Your Most Obedient Servant: Cook to the Duke of Wellington
by James Thornton
What an odd little book! A few years ago this written interview between Lord Frederick Fitzclarence and a cook called James Thornton was uncovered on a dusty shelf. Thornton was was not just any cook, he was Wellington's cook for much of the time of Peninsular Wars, and Thornton followed him around on campaign. Elizabeth Longford has written a helpful introduction which fleshes out the rather short interview.
I found the book a little frustrating as Thornton describes some parts of campaign life in detail (the numbers of donkey's he was allotted, how the house-hold staff got themselves from point to point) but on other things the detail is quite lacking such as the invasion of France, and the Waterloo campaign. Perhaps this was because the interview was conducted in the early 1850's just before the Duke of Wellington's death - Thornton had not worked for him for over 30 years and the events he was talking about were sometimes over 40 years old. Mostly this book provides tantalising brief glimpses of the Duke's domestic life in the peninsular - the boiled eggs he carried in his pockets, the number of servants he had, who he fed, and the balls and parties he gave. Definitely interesting for Peninsular War or Wellington fans.
120 pages (November 1, 1985)
Granite Impex Ltd
The Englishman's Food:
Five Centuries of English Diet
by J.C. Drummond, Anne Wilbraham and Tom Jaine
This useful book has been reprinted a number of times since it first hit the shelves in 1939. It follows 500 years of diet in Britain covering the Medieval and Tudor times and then in centurys to modern day 20th century diet.
The interesting thing I found was that it is in part a social history, partly an account of scientific advances in food and mostly a jolly good read. This is because it is told almost as installments of a story. For instance each Century has divisions in it to show the development of cures for common sicknesses such as Scurvey, Rickets and so on but there are also divisions for what various classes of people would be eating and the effect this would have on their health. You can, therefore read the book from start to finish and end up with an overview of the development of diet, or you can browse the chapters and read selectively for what you are most interested in. The chapters on Scurvey - especially in the eighteenth century are particularly interesting I think.
In fact the eighteenth century chapter, to me, was by far the most interesting all round, for this was when the earliest advances seemed to be made on energy requirements from food - that all food wasn't created equal, and that one had to have a certain amount of it to survive - the experiments are incredible - as is the level of food adulteration mentioned. The section on the Nineteenth century also has a wonderful section on the advances made in the preservation of food. v There are a good collection of appendixes with various diets from through the ages and from different institutions through the ages. Definitely readable, very informative, a good reference to have on the shelf.
490 pages (August 8, 1991)
Anne Woodley is an Amazon top 500 reviewer as well as the patroness of Janeites, the Internet discussion, as well as mistress of the Regency Ring. Her excellent page, The Regency Collection is a treasure trove of information.