The Tudor Kitchen (Book Review)

by Sam Bilton on January 15, 2018 No comments

What is the essence of the book?

There is an enduring fascination with Tudor monarchs and their subjects. If you’ve ever been curious about what they may have consumed in the way of food and drink then all is revealed in The Tudor Kitchen: What the Tudors Ate & Drank.

Terry Breverton begins by outlining the factors which affected the Tudor diet for the rich and the poor such as briefly describing the farming practices of the day. In the second part of the book he explores recipes from the era using contemporary sources. They are set out in a familiar fashion – first courses, main courses, side dishes, sweets etc – but as he explains a ‘course’ in Tudor times would include a number of diverse dishes.

About the author

Terry Breverton is a former businessman, consultant and academic and now a full-time writer. He has presented documentaries on the Discovery Channel and the History Channel. Breverton is the author of many books on subjects such as Richard III, Tudor recipes and Henry VII.

Who will like it?

If you’re a fan of Tudor history and want to discover more about how they lived then you’ll enjoy this book. It’s also great for anyone interested in food history who would like to explore this era through its recipes.

Who won’t like it?

You definitely need to have an interest in history to appreciate this book. Although there are a few pictures and illustrations in the centre of the book it lacks the enticing images you get in modern cookery books so if you’re more of a visual cook then this may not be the book for you.

What do I like about the book?

The Tudor Kitchen provides enough information to inform the reader without getting too bogged down in the finer details. I love the little snippets of information Breverton includes almost as asides (like the origins of the term to have a ‘nip’ of spirits which derives from the nipperkin measure). He also includes a chapter on ‘Dishes You May Not Wish To Cook’ which is fascinating if a little macabre (roasted cat anyone?). Will you be an expert on Tudor food after reading this book? No, but it is very easy to digest and is a great place to start if you want to find out more about the food and drink from this era.

Is there anything readers may not be so keen on?

Breverton makes it quite clear that his modern adaptations of the Tudor recipes are purely for guidance rather than definitive instructions, which may disappoint some readers. Tudor cooks were not great at providing detailed measurements or methodologies. That’s not to say you can’t cook from this book but you may need a bit of imagination. At the end of the day you can always fall back on the fact that nobody really knows what these dishes should look like (surely one of the main advantages of not having a photo next to the recipe?) or indeed how it should taste.

Would I cook from it?

I’ll definitely be using this book to provide inspiration for my Elizabethan supper club later this year to commemorate the invasion of the Spanish Armada.

Where can you buy it?

The Tudor Kitchen: What the Tudors Ate & Drank by Terry Breverton (Amberley Books, 8.99)

Sam BiltonThe Tudor Kitchen (Book Review)

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