Hilary Spurling's description of the recipe book which was passed down to her husband's family and thence to her made the hairs lift on the backs of my arms. Why haven't I been fortunate enough to inherit a book with end papers made from scraps of illuminated manuscripts and full of the most appetising recipes and as Ms Spurling points out, such appealingly villainous spelling?
Her description won me over from the start. This is a fascinating and often surprising book for anyone interested in English food and the social history of the 17th century. Hilary Spurling has evidently researched her subject very thoroughly but she wears her scholarship lightly. Lady Fettiplace and those predecessors and successors who contributed to her book were clearly equally accomplished cooks, producing subtle and sophisticated food on a scale which would make the modern cook quail.
Ms Spurling arranges the recipes month by month and gives scaled-down quantities and instructions which make these slices of history accessible to today's cooks. My only regret is that I didn't discover this book years ago, as it was first published, I think, back in the '80s. If prospective readers find they can't acquire a copy it'll be because I've bought them all for family and friends.
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I have been researching Tudor food for a Tudor music concert reception coming soon, and bought this book, knowing Hilary Spurling's work by reputation. It is a wonderful read, the recipes seem do-able in a modern kitchen, and I plan to keep it with my cookery books. Excellent and a pleasure to read.
Brilliant! Great to have modern recipe alongside historical recipes and a real insight through the food. Readable. The author has really made an effort to explain the recipes. Talks about what time of year certain recipes were used. Gives an idea of life. The biscuit bread recipe was lovely too!
I love this book and re-read now and then. As well as the month by month recipes it is fascinating to see who Elinor was related to or came into contact with. Her medicinal information is interesting too and it gives a good insight into what life was like for women of the period.