Top kitchens in literature

 Bridget Jones' Diary screenshot

When John O’Connell was doing research for a book he is working on, he read a lot of historical cookery books, and plenty of novels. The latter were to glean information about food storage and preparation. He was struck by how few descriptions of kitchens existed before the 1930s. Nevertheless, O’Connell found enough material for his work, and he recounts his top 10 favourite literary kitchens in The Guardian. 

Coming in first was a kitchen from the 1958 novel Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting by Penelope Mortimer. In this book, “the kitchen is a place of refuge – where housewives defeated by the frustrations of commuter-belt life and their husbands’ philandering go to drink, brood on what might have been and say out loud (albeit to themselves) unsayable truths while “tracing the pattern of the Formica tabletop”.

More modern novels also make the list, like Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding.
Bridget’s attempt to prove herself a brilliant cook and hostess ends in disaster: “Cannot go on, Have just stepped in a pan of mashed potato in new kitten-heel black suede shoes from Pied à Terre (Pied a pomme-de-terre, more like), forgetting that kitchen floor and surfaces were covered in pans of mince and mashed potato.”

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  • ellabee  on  December 26, 2015

    Thanks for the pointer, Darcie. Worthwhile for several of the excerpts, but especially Dickens: "In fact, I have an idea that I feel the domestic virtues already forming.” LOL!

  • mfto  on  December 27, 2015

    Yes, I have read At Mrs Lippincote’s by Elizabeth Taylor. At the time I was too young to be interested in kitchens. In fact I have read all of Elizabeth Taylor's novels, not her short stories, and have owned them at one time or another. Her best novel IMHO is Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont but Mrs. Palfrey didn't cook. Darcie, thank you for making me aware of the resurgence of interest in Elizabeth Taylor's books. I plan to even read her short stories.

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