By Susanne Groom
Merrell, Historic Royal Palaces (2013)
This book is a feast!
It is a golden ticket to a gastronomic time travel. It literally takes the reader to visit royal meals from the 14th century all the way to Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
The relationship between monarchs and food is not the same as everyone else’s, food has for millennia being used as a symbol of status, power, politics and soft power. That seems to be the premise of this book.
Duke of Newcastle to Charles II, 1642.
The author carefully built a rich narrative that results in a very enjoyable read (I read the book in 4 sessions), and although it is clear that her expertise and knowledge on the subject is vast, she masterfully blends historical, cultural, economic and culinary information with glimpses of the royals’ habits, preferences, dietary habits and even their health conditions.
This is not a superficial read, it contains many anecdotes but it is a great source of information that allows the reader to know and understand how wars, alliances, economic crisis and even personal upbringing shaped the diets of monarchs past.
It is beautifully illustrated, with many reproductions of documents, photographs, paintings and menus.
Another fascinating aspect is the amount of information provided about the cooks, chefs and culinary trends of each period as well as the relationship that monarchs had towards food, food supply and food crisis, and whether they were indolent or actively procuring a welfare for the realm.
Again, another delicate token of love from MrD, which I truly enjoyed from beginning to end.
So go and make someone (or yourself) happy and get this most delighting book.