In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews85 of 1830 or to possible sources. Too many, however, belabour the obvious by explaining references to Pheidias, the Venus de MiIo, Ossian, sibyl and pythoness, and Tartarus—indicating a miscalculation of the audience likely to pick up and read this odd footnote to literary history. With its echoes of mysticism and mesmerism and its passionate reaction against rationalism, Sand's closet drama is hardly more than that. Still, it is one which students should be pleased to see available in English. Sara Stambaugh University ofAlberta Sarah Freeman. Mutton and Oysters: The Victorians and their Food. London: Victor Gollancz, 1989. 316. £16.95. [distributed in Canada by McClelland and Stewart] The forces that shaped nineteenth-century life in general, such as advances in science and technology, the expansion of the railways, urbanization and the rise in literacy, also directly affected what, when, and how the Victorians ate. Conversely, Sarah Freeman's study illuminates from a specific and fascinating viewpoint some of the major themes of the century, so that Mutton and Oysters should find many readers beyond food historians for whom it is of special interest. The subject of Victorian food and eating habits is vast. Books and articles have been written on aspects of the story, such as the lives of individual cooks and cookery writers (for example, Freeman's 1977 biography of Isabella Beeton and her husband, which especially qualifies her to write the book reviewed here), histories of famous stores, food manufacturers and restaurants, particular meals or the change in meal times; and information about Victorian food habits can also be found in works on other themes, such as temperance, vegetarianism and domestic technology. Mutton and Oysters is a welcome new resource for providing a thoroughly researched and detailed survey of the subject as a whole, which takes into account differences between the social classes, between urban and rural settings and, to a lesser degree, between various regions. However, it should be pointed out that, despite the subtitle that implies coverage to the end of the century, Freeman focuses on the 1840s, 50s, 86Victorian Review and 60s, albeit a period of seminal change, and for the most part only briefly mentions some of the developments of the last three decades. Her book is thus more specifically about the mid-Victorians and their food. The first four chapters cover the available produce (beef, mutton, pork, game and other wild birds, poultry, dairy produce and vegetables), which Freeman calls "the best in the world" (54), and products (bread, water, tea, coffee, cocoa and sugar), "the worst in the world" (76), and their sale at shops, markets, fairs and in the street. She describes the levels of sanitation, nutrition and adulteration reflected in the food items and also discusses the exploitative truck system whereby workers were paid in kind or with credit rather than money, the widespread practice at all levels of society of buying on credit, and the prevalence of vendors cheating. She shows how all these factors affected the choice, quantity and quality of the food eaten. In the following chapter devoted to alcoholic beverages, Freeman considers the influence on traditional tastes and patterns of consumption of the temperance movement, medical opinion and legislation regarding the importation and sale of wine and spirits. She next looks at the preparation and serving of food. In the chapter "Cooking," where she examines kitchen technology and associated cooking techniques, her account of the controversy over roasting by gas is both clear and amusing. In "The Cooks" she evaluates the skills and attitudes of the thousands of hired cooks who laboured in middle- and upper-class households and contrasts this female servant class with what is known of the French and Italian chefs who came to work in Britain in the period. In "The Cookery Writers" she analyses the works of Esther Hewlett, Eliza Acton, Isabella Beeton, Georgiana Hill, Alexis Soyer, Charles Elmé Francatelli, William Kitchiner and John Henry Walsh, eight of the "upwards of seventy . . . authors of cookery books in the first two thirds of the century" (174). The suggested total of seventy should be taken as a rough guide only since no comprehensive bibliography of British cookbooks for the period...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 85-87
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.