Catherine Dickens: Chef and entertainer behind A Christmas Carol
One might not have guessed that Charles Dickens' wife, Catherine, was a culinary master, but her cookbook What Shall We Have for Dinner? tells all. This article by Penelope Vogler paints Catherine as quite the entertainer:
The book's culinary style is high Victoriana; vegetables are outnumbered by fish and meat, and no dinner party today (even for 20 people) would attempt so many dishes: two soups, three fish, ten – mostly meaty – offerings in the third course, three or four in the next; five puddings and perhaps three savouries (Dickens liked to round a meal off with toasted cheese). The names and sheer volume of dishes make the Bills of Fare seem, at first sight, solidly British and off-puttingly bourgeois. But at the time they would have been the height of fashion. The cauliflower with parmesan, for example, came from Charles Elme Francatelli, Queen Victoria's Anglo-Italian chef (although unlike Francatelli Catherine doesn't suggest serving it in a coronet of croutons).