Album Vilmorin, Les Plantes Potageres, Paris (Vilmorin-Andrieux & Cie.) 1850-1895. Paris, Museum National d’Histoire Natur.
I often wonder if the famous idiom about children being seen and not heard also applied to vegetables in the early 20th century. While Country House owners, like Downton Abbey‘s Crawley family, could pride themselves on serving fresh produce grown from their own gardens, no vegetable on their dining room table went uncooked, sometimes beyond recognition. It is unlikely they realized most of the nutritional benefits were lost when boiling, but it would appear that fashion was an important consideration, and that soft textures were a more gentlemanly way to eat veggies, so as not to distract from conversation around the dining table. Shaving, mashing and reshaping vegetables into interesting shapes was a favorite treatment for Victorian cooks, a tradition passed along to Edwardians/early 20th century cooks. Continue reading »