Television chefs like Delia Smith and Jamie Oliver have produced some eye-catching food. Part of their appeal is to make the presentation and serving look easy. Yet many of their dishes are based on classic recipes. The food may be similar to what was eaten in the past but the way it is brought to the table couldn't be more different.
The Rare Books room at the British Library has a wonderful collection of old cookery books and a surprising number of facts. Mrs. Beeton, for example, wasn't an elderly lady - she died at the age of 28 and compiled her famous book of household management while living in a large house with servants in Hatch End, Middlesex.
'The Dinner Question' or 'How to Dine Well and Economically' was written in 1860 by Tabitha Tickletooth. The author was, in fact, an actor called Charles Selby. The esteemed Alan Davidson who compiled The Oxford Companion to Food said the book 'combined a talent for wit with practicality in the kitchen, a scientific approach to cooking and prowess as a scholar.'