Another Downton Day has come and gone in the UK, and sadly there is only one more episode left in Season 3. Will fans host lavish finale parties in celebration or mourning? Who’s to know for sure, but the show has inspired a new found interest in cuisine from that era. So if you wish to host a finale party or a Downton themed costume party, you may find my online guide to be helpful in your planning. Otherwise, check out the 100+recipes here or or Downton’s Eat Drink & Be Merry Pinterest site to help bring Downton into your own home.
I have to admit I was a bit distracted watching last night’s episode. We had a lovely traditional roast beef and Yorkshire dinner with Lord D’s cousin Lady L and her charming husband Lord A. They shared stories of their world travels, visiting ruins off the beaten path all over the world. They blessed me with an amazing book from the Titanic written the same year as the sinking.
Lady L has been working tirelessly tracing the family ancestry, and I was amazed that she has been able to trace the family back 32 generations to the Medieval era. As we shared my tea treats, she revealed some of the highlights which read like an episode of Who do you Think you Are? I affectionally call my husband Lord D, but his family history appears steeped with noble blood, and littered with many interesting characters, which I may reveal in the future, with Lord D’s blessing. When you uncover family history, you gain an appreciation and comfort for who you are.
It is like exploring food history; many foods have evolved over time and not merely created. New generations of cooks often develop variations of traditional dishes, using new technologies, and more readily available ingredients.
The Long History of Meatloaf
While we enjoyed a lovely roast beef dinner with Lady L and Lord A last night, I thought meatloaf was a good analogy for today. It is a comfort dish with a surprising long history. North Americans are all too familiar with meatloaf, which has never quite gone out of fashion.
Although modern meatloaf is an American innovation, its ancestry spans the globe, and centuries, dating back to Roman times. In Medieval Europe, our ancestors mixed together odds and ends of cooked meat, mixed in fruits and nuts and other fillers and then molded the dish into pie-shaped disks called pastez. Grand tables of 17th century France featured loaves of chopped meats and offal (intestines) which was preserved with the beloved gelatin. In America, it appears that meatloaf evolved from scrapple, from 18th century Pennsylvanian Dutch settlers who utilized scraps of pig carcass, mixing with cornmeal and seasonings, boiled into mush which was pressed into loafs and then pan fried. My 1920s version of the 1896 Boston Cooking-School Cookbook contains a recipe for “Miss Daniel’s Meat Loaf” which called for finely chopped pork, veal and beef but also a German Loaf which instructs forcing the meat through a meat chopper.
Our modern meatloaf was helped along with the invention of the meat grinder by Karl Drais in the 19th century. Before the days of refrigeration which allowed safe storage of ground meats, butchers would mince meat in front of customers. Eventually the meat grinders entered into homes which allowed home cooks to mince or grind their own meat, making meatloaf (and other hamburger dishes) accessible to every housewife. A time saver and the design hasn’t changed much. I have fond memories of my mother’s hand-cranked meat grinder which she would attach to the kitchen table like a vice when it came time to grind our farm raised livestock for meatloaf, meat balls, or Salisbury steak. Of course now we can safely buy ground meat at our local grocer.
Hearty Servants Meatloaf
Own your Own Copy
Tools of the Trade
While cooks in Downton’s era may not have had exactly the same type of kitchen gadgets, Victorian cooks did start the craze for creating a tool for each job in the kitchen, so I blame our ancestors for my obsession with collecting these time savers.
I do love the hunt in my local cooking stores, but you can order this stuff directly from Amazon so you have more time to watch Downton.
You can buy grinders to attach to your Kitchen Aid, you can still buy manual meat grinders which look very much like their ancestors.