Thursday, February 19, 2009

Apparently her husband was famous

Charles Darwin’s name is recognized around the globe and his discoveries have shaped our understanding of the natural world. While the scientist pursued research and theory, his wife Emma Wedgwood Darwin, like many women of her time, kept a notebook filled with recipes, culinary instructions and personal anecdotes about everyday life in the Darwin household.

Authors Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway have recreated and tested every one of Mrs. Darwin’s 55 recipes and put them in a new cookbook, Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book: Revived and Illustrated. This unique cookbook offers a rare glimpse behind the dining room doors of one of the Victorian era’s most eminent families.

More than a cookbook, Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book illuminates a lifestyle at the top of English society. This treasure trove of fifty-five delicious recipes reflects Emma Darwin’s social position and responsibility for feeding her family, entertaining guests, and maintaining the household. Reading her recipes and notes today offers remarkable insight into Victorian life and includes dishes popular in her day such as:

· Baked Cheese Custard
· Scotch Woodcock
· Beef Collops
· Chicken and Macaroni
· Veal Cake
· Turnips Cresselly
· Baked Apple Pudding
· Potato Rissoles
· Arrowroot Pudding
· Compote of Apples

And of course, all her ingredients were free-range and organic.

These wonderful recipes have been adapted for today’s modern kitchen and are easy to prepare and create unique dinner menus for family get-togethers, holiday parties, or weeknight dinners.

From a historical perspective, the authors provide a unique look at Victorian life through their Introduction chapter, discussing details and practices of the Darwin household. And, the historian in anyone will be delighted to see many reprinted pages from Mrs. Darwin’s actual diaries.

“While researching our book we found that cooking and eating a dish enjoyed by Charles Darwin and his family brought us closer to the great man,” say authors Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway. “And our impression of Emma at the end of our culinary journey? We felt a growing admiration and warmth. From her letters she emerges as a truly interesting and extraordinary woman. “

Feb. 12 was Darwin Day, the bi-centennial anniversary of Darwin’s birth and an international celebration of the discoveries and life of this extraordinary man. Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book is the perfect complement to the celebration of the life of Charles Darwin through authentic dishes from the Darwin household, and opening a window into the life and accomplishments of Emma Darwin, who gracefully supported her husband along his path of scientific inquiry. Cookery, history, Victoriana, and botany buffs alike will be sure to devour this rich culinary exploration.


DUSHA BATESON studied history at England’s Cambridge University. She may have inherited her interests in investigating archival materials and writing from her father, a BBC foreign correspondent to the Balkans and author of several books. Born and raised in the UK, Dusha has worked as a journalist and as a librarian. In 1988, her husband, Sir Patrick Bateson, became Provost of King’s College where the Batesons entertained many guests, from Queen Elizabeth II to the Dalai Lama. The Batesons live in East Suffolk, England.

WESLIE JANEWAY studied history and politics at Barnard College and Brown University. She has worked as a political analyst in banking, investment banking and continued to work in investment (at Sontag Advisory, a boutique investment firm) until 2006, when she and her semi-retired husband moved to Cambridge, England. She lives with her husband and son variously between Cambridge, England, New York City, and the coast of Maine.

Mrs. Charles Darwin’s Recipe Book
Revived and Illustrated
by Dusha Bateson and Weslie Janeway
Glitterati Inc.
November 2008


Anonymous said...

Excellent Book Review!
I Buy Barbeques