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Fans of the beloved Downton Abbey TV series will be thrilled to see not one, but four familiar faces in the Netflix adaptation of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Matthew Goode, Lily James, Penelope Wilton, and Jessica Brown Findlay, who all had major roles in Downton, now star in the Netflix original period drama set in 1946 England.
Based on the popular 2008 novel of the same name by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows, the film tells the story of writer Juliet Ashton and her blossoming relationships with members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. The Society was formed during the German occupation of the Channel Island of Guernsey in World War II. Food was severely rationed, forcing locals to get creative.
When food is scarce, people learn to make do with what ingredients they have on hand. The most readily available item for Guernsey residents was potatoes. Potato peel pie crusts and casseroles became common. Boiled potatoes, fried potatoes, and potato stew provided filler for empty bellies. Making tasty recipes without salt, butter, milk, or eggs challenged the islanders’ culinary skills.
Resourceful cooks substituted ingredients in beloved recipes to cope with shortages. Carrot tops stood in for other greens. Apple peels bulked up baked goods. Leftover vegetable peelings got incorporated into broths and stocks. Stale bread was recycled into puddings and stuffings. No part of any ingredient was wasted.
Fishermen occasionally supplied fish and shellfish, though catches were inconsistent due to naval blockades. Occasional shipments of imported foods offered joyous respites from the daily potato diet. A rare treat like tea, biscuits, or a tin of smoked oysters brought normalcy and comfort during wartime austerity.
Juliet begins corresponding with members of the literary society through a series of letters. As she learns more about their bond over books and experiences living under German rule, Juliet travels to Guernsey to meet them. There she forms a connection with Dawsey, the founder of the society, and learns more dark secrets from the island’s wartime experience.
Beyond the characters, viewers will love getting a glimpse into the daily lives and food culture of Guernsey locals during German occupation. Though ingredients were meager, Guernsey residents showed tremendous creativity and perseverance in feeding their families. Their homemade potato peel pies and carrot-top soups represent the power of community in the face of hardship.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society celebrates the power of books and reading to unite people from very different backgrounds. Juliet travels to Guernsey seeking stories about the island’s history, but returns home with so much more – lifelong friendships and a newfound love. The recipes and food culture she experiences tell a vivid story of Guernsey life under German occupation.
Fans of Downton Abbey are sure to find similarities in Guernsey’s World War II setting and focus on class differences. But the heartfelt performances of James, Goode, Wilton, and Findlay truly make the film stand apart. Their stellar acting brings the novel’s characters to life and makes viewers invested in their emotional journeys.
This endlessly charming film will appeal to period drama lovers and WWII history buffs alike. With its stellar cast, scenic seaside setting, and tale of the human connections made through literature and food, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is sure to become an instant favorite. Downton fans will relish seeing some of their favorite stars together again in this poignant, heartwarming story. Make yourself a potato peel pie, sit down and enjoy the film.
Pleasing Potato Peel Pie
For the Crust
- 1 large onion grated
- 1 large potato (thin skinned) grated
- 1 medium beet grated
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 2 large egg whites
- 3 tbsp. unbleached all purpose flour
For the filling
- 6 medium potatoes thin skinned
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup cream
- 2 strips bacon diced and cooked
- 2 tbsp. chives finely chopped
- 1/4 cup cheese shredded
Prepare the Crust
- Grease a pie plate with bacon grease hidden away in your pantry.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F.
- Mix the ingredients for the crust in a large bowl and then spoon into the prepared pie plate, Reserve 1/2 a cup for the finish. Press against the bottom and sides so you have an even crust.
- Bake in the oven for one hour, or until the crust is firm and crispy. Let cool.
Make the Filling
- Srub the potatoes well. Cut into 3 inch cubes with the peel on, add water to cover, Add the garlic clove to the water and set on medium heat. Cook until fork tender.
- Drain the water. Heat the milk and add to the hot potatoes. Mash well, Stir in cream, bacon and chives.
- Spoon the filling into the prepared crust. Use the remaining crust ingredients to make a lattice design and fill with the gaps with the cheese.
- Bake in the 350 F oven for 30 minutes
- Cool slightly and cut into slices and serve.