At The Kings Table

Thursday 24 October 2013

I have never made any secret of my love for cookery books.  In fact it probably verges on obsession.  Well, that's what the Toddster thinks at any rate.  Most evenings I crawl into bed with a good one or two and I get so much pleasure and inspiration from perusing their pages . . . 

But what you probably don't know is I am also vastly interested and intrigued in the history of food and the chemistry behind it.  Yes, I am one of those sad people who can sit and ponder for hours on such questions as who was it decided that eggs were good enough for human consumption and just how the miraclulous wonder of cake baking came to pass!  

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Recently I was sent a beautiful book to read and review entitled "At the King's Table, Royal Dining Through the Ages, by Susanne Groom.  I have been enjoying it so very much, especially since I recently discovered my own ancestral Royal Connections!  This delightful book is an exploration, both visual and written, of the history of royal dining, dating from the somewhat primitive kitchens of the middle ages on up to the informal dinner parties held by the Royals of today's world.  

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It begins with a foreword written by the Master of Culinary Chemistry, Heston Blumenthal, and what follows are ten delightful chapters which take the reader on a journey through the kitchens and diets of Monarchs from Richard the Second, on up to the present day Queen Elizabeth and her family.   (I have to say my connection with all of this is through Richard the Third )

"The aim of the subtlety was to combine magic and food, and to astonish.  A peacock might be served in it's plumage, or swans served swimming in pastry ponds.  Real birds might even be hidden at the last moment in pies, to fly into the air as soon as the crust was cut."  

Interspered throughout between the discourses on the table manners of the royals through the ages, the earliest cookery books, unscrupulous dealings, flamboyent chefs, etc. are some 200 illustrations and menus from a plethoria of State Banquets and extravagent dinners.

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Little tidbits of royal likes and dislikes and food fetishes and fads of the ages, and their implication on the diets of ordinary folk.

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I found it compelling reading to say the least.  And, no pun intended . . . I have devoured it with gusto!  

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Having worked as a Personal Chef myself, I was fascinated by the requirements and duties of Royal Chef's and the wonderful little tidbits shared within this lovely book's pages.

In short, I have found it to be a complete delight from start to finish.  One of my favourite books ever.

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If you are looking for a different sort of book to give that culinary "Foodie" in your life for Christmas, look no further.  It's hard to purchase a cookbook for a "Foodie" actually.  It's very difficult to know which ones they already have.  I predict that this book will delight, amuse and fascinate any culinary "Foodie" on your gift list, not to mention anyone who has a penchant for history.

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At the Kings Table
Royal Dining Through the Ages
by Susanne Groom
forward by Heston Blumenthal
Published by Merrell
(In association with Historic Royal Palaces)
ISBN 978-1-8589-4613-9
UK £22.95
US $39.95

I have found it on for as little as £14.34 and on for $24.44.

Many thanks for the people at Merrell for sending me this book to read and review.  All opinions and views are my own and are in no way influenced.


  1. My favourite has always been Allison Uttley's Recipes from an Old Farmhouse Less glamourous but a very interesting read.

  2. Pat, my youngest daughter always loved the stories of Allison Uttley. WE spent many happy hours reading them together when she was growing up. Many thanks for jogging some happy memories for me!

  3. A fascinating sounding cookbook. I love the illustration and pictures.

  4. This sounds like a great read...I do read cookbooks as I would a novel...they are always consumed visually first!

  5. What a wonderful book - I adore cookery books too - what a GREAT find!
    Mary x

  6. I love cookbooks too Marie and this look amazing!! and beauty!!
    send you loads of love!!

  7. I came over from Buttercup's blog to say hi. This book looks fascinating for me, since I enjoy reading about history. Now I will visit your etsy shop.

  8. I love cookbooks as well, and always have a pile strewn around my side of the bed. I can tell from the table of contents that this cookbook is a good read. I have never been tempted by the eating habits of historical royals - everything is so excessive and overdone. Give me simple peasant food any day! But it is fun to read about, although the length of the meals and the countless courses sound so tedious.

  9. Thank you, Pat G for the recommendation of Recipes from an old farmhouse. I wasn't aware that Allison Uttley had written a cookbook, and found a 2nd hand copy to buy for a very reasonable price.

  10. Me too tigerlille! Great minds must think alike! Oh my book case will be groaning!

  11. Marie, I noticed your cookbooks for the first time tonight. Do you include adaptations for the U.S. kitchen? I am very tempted, although I will have to wait for next month's pay check.

  12. Oh, I reread and see that you did include U.S. measurements. So convenient! I am looking forward to ordering them in November. And your sample watercolors really are delightful.

  13. tigerlille I always include both measurements for all my recipes. I know how frustrating it can be! I do my best!

  14. Thank you tigerlille! I have many fingers in many pies!

  15. I really enjoyed reading your evocative post. I picked up books about what royalty ate in India when I visited and I was just captivated x

  16. Hi Marie - if you like the history of food I wonder whether you've come across a book written in the 50s I think called Food in England by Dorothy Hartley? I suspect you might enjoy it.

  17. HI Rowan, I'll keep my eye open for it! I'm sure I would enjoy it!

  18. What a fun book!! I only have a handful of cookbooks, but would love to own more. I could easily become a collector like you! Have you ever read the Mitford books, by Jan Karon? You would adore them. They're so sweet, and funny, one of those series where you fall in love with every character. And there is LOTS of food. In fact, she made a cookbook from the series! I do own that one, and it's one of my favorites, full of bits from the books. Find them, I know you'd eat them up! :)


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