ITEM OF THE DAY Item of the Day: Dinner with Mr. Darcy by Pen Vogler Laura Kadner

If you’re a fan of Jane Austen but you’ve already read all her books and seen every cinematic interpretation of her work, what’s an Austenite to do? While getting your very own real live Mr. Darcy probably ranks high on your list, it’s not too likely. What’s entirely possible, however, is stuffing your Jane Austen-loving gob with Darcy’s favorite fare, courtesy of Dinner with Mr. Darcy by Pen Vogler.

flummery

The book is brimming with recipes inspired by the novels and letters of Jane Austen, providing a feast for every occasion. Wonder what the menu might’ve been like for the ball at Netherfield? Just flip to the right chapter to be greeted with an introduction of various festive occasions throughout Austen’s writings, followed by a proposed list of dishes. On top of a modernized version of the recipe for say, Salmagundy or Flummery, you also have excerpts from cookbooks from the 18th and 19th centuries.

apricot cakes

Or perhaps you’re wondering after the personal favorites of Jane and her family. Dinner with Mr. Darcy feeds you fun tidbits about their familial history, like how Mrs. Austen was quite a knowledgeable housekeeper and how happy Jane was to leave behind meal planning for writing. But don’t discount Jane’s appetite just yet. While planning wasn’t her thing, eating most certainly was. She adored stews – going so far as to mention three different varieties in one letter! That’s a gal who must really love a stew. Dinner with Mr. Darcy is more than a cookbook, it’s also a history lesson and a collection of anecdotes all rolled into one.

It’s perfect for any Austenite, history lover, food lovers and historical food lover. You can tell the author is truly enamored with her subject. In addition to the recipes, there are also fascinating peeks into the world of housekeeping and dining in Georgian England. As a pretty huge fan of food, seeing how much Jane loved to feast makes me love her even more.

bath buns

Plan an Emma-inspired picnic and enjoy a pigeon pie and a strawberry tartlet. Or, you know, maybe skip the pigeon. Have breakfast in bed Northanger Abbey style, munching on Bath Buns and Chocolate to Drink. Chocolate to Drink is indeed a recipe and you’ll be horrified to learn that in Jane’s olden times people hadn’t yet learned the wonders of eating solid chocolate. Yet they managed to invent a special chocolate mill just for shaving it to just the right consistency for their drinking pleasure. Oh, you silly old English people.

You can learn something new and find something either delicious or surprising on almost every page. Test yourself and try something that sounds fairly appalling, like Calf’s Foot Jelly. Though it has no calf and no foot in it, and actually sounds quite tasty you might be feeling less daring. Perhaps instead try out the enigmatically named Everlasting Syllabub.

Simply pick up a copy of Dinner with Mr. Darcy to treat yourself and your friends to a meal fit for any fan of food and more than fit for Ms. Austen herself.

Dinner with Mr. Darcy is available for purchase for $24.95 at rylandpeters.com

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