The Greedy Queen
From Dr Annie Gray, presenter of BBC2’s Victorian Bakers
What does it mean to eat like a queen? Elizabeth gorged on sugar, Mary on chocolate and Anne was known as ‘Brandy Nan’. Victoria ate all of this and more. The Greedy Queen celebrates Victoria’s appetite, both for food and, indeed, for life.
Born in May 1819, Victoria came ‘as plump as a partridge’. In her early years she lived on milk and bread under the Kensington system; in her old age she suffered constant indigestion yet continued to over-eat. From intimate breakfasts with the King of France, to romping at tea-parties with her children, and from state balls to her last sip of milk, her life is examined through what she ate, when and with whom. In the royal household, Victoria was surrounded by ladies-in-waiting, secretaries, dressers and coachmen, but below stairs there was another category of servant: her cooks. More fundamental and yet completely hidden, they are now uncovered in their working environment for the first time.
Voracious and adventurous in her tastes, Queen Victoria was head of state during a revolution in how we ate – from the highest tables to the most humble. Bursting with original research, The Greedy Queen considers Britain’s most iconic monarch from a new perspective, telling the story of British food along the way.
Had me at the first sentence -- Nigel Slater Zingy, fresh, and unexpected: Annie Gray, the queen of food historians, finds her perfect subject. A book to devour -- Lucy Worsley Annie Gray is a brilliant writer and scholar who brings a glorious combination of enthusiasm and greed to every subject she tackles. In the field of food history she leads the pack. -- Jay Rayner In this wonderfully researched and entertaining book, Gray uncovers a slice of royal history which until now has been completely ignored. -- Jane Ridley * Spectator * [A] delicious portrait -- Daisy Goodwin * Mail on Sunday * 'The best - and most popular - rooms in any National Trust property are always the kitchens. It is there, rather than the grand staterooms, that we are able to visualise what life was really like in the past. In The Greedy Queen Annie Gray replicates those kitchens in book form, conjuring up for her readers both the elaborate banquets and the quiet family dinners of Queen Victoria and her household. Never has history seemed quite as delicious as in these pages.' -- Judith Flanders I'm avid to tuck in. -- Rachel Cooke * Guardian 2017 non-fiction picks * One of the most fascinating royal biographies I have read ... Culinary biography is a relatively undersubscribed genre, but this biographer and subject show off its great potential ... Gray writes with great authority, verve and confidence -- Paula Byrne * Times * Gray does an excellent job ... This is fascinating material, extracted from the archives by some fine forensic reading. -- Kathryn Hughes * TLS * If we are what we eat, then what was Victoria? This brilliant first book by Annie Gray wastes no time in telling us ... Gray's oeuvre is deeply satisfying ... her tone is lively, her pace jaunty. -- Cate Devine * Herald * Bursting with original research, The Greedy Queen looks at the monarch from a new perspective, telling the story of British food along the way. * Majesty Magazine * Written with great affection, it reveals a queen full of paradoxes, cosseted from real life but with a hearty appetite and startling joie de vivre alongside bouts of grief-stricken melancholy. A real feast. -- Patricia Carswell * WI Life * I love a good historical non-fiction read and the topic of food lends itself so well to this genre. In this beautifully researched book, Annie Gray explains how food culture changed during Victoria's long reign, the difference in diet between the queen and her poorest subjects and even what she ate to cure her of constipation (rhubarb, if you must know.) A fascinating read. -- Sarra Manning * Red *
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