Agnes Jekyll wrote this collection of pieces on cookery for The Times in 1920, and they are a perfect picture of upper class life at that time. Very few of the recipes which are included in the collection would be appealing to the average cook today as tastes have changed so much, but they are a wonderful historical snapshot of a way of life that has long gone.
Each chapter deals with a different social time or issue to be dealt with. There are chapters on wedding food, on what to serve for a married couple's first dinner party, what to eat while travelling and how to provide delicious food without meat. Jekyll comments extensively on social changes that have been brought about by the Great War and general food shortages, and how to overcome them.
She refers to extensively to economy and the cook on a budget, although so many of her recipes include things like lobster, oysters, foie gras, truffles and cream I am not entirely sure what kind of economy she has in mind. It is also clear that these recipes were not intended to be cooked by the reader, but by the staff of the reader, as she is always referring to domestic servants, and even includes simple recipes that the parlour maid can manage on the cook's day off.
The main thing that fascinated me about this book was the fashion for cooking and serving almost anything you care to mention in aspic and/or jelly. It is something we hardly ever do these days and I can think of very few foods that include it, with the exception of pork pie, yet it is clear that during these years there was a mania for it in fashionable circles.
It would be wonderful to know what she would make of the diet of today.