Retford Ladies Probus Club ended the year on a high with a Christmas luncheon at Ye Olde Bell in November, enhanced by the singing of Jessica Brett. This was followed by carols, quizzes, sherry and mince pies at the December gathering.
Dawn Cragg welcomed 66 members to the January meeting, which kicked off to an excellent start with a very professional and entertaining presentation by Judith Hedley entitled ‘Tea with Mr Darcy’. It was meant to be an insight into the food mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels but it was much more than this. Darcy probably looked nothing like the iconic figure of Colin Firth emerging from the water as that type of physique would have been more akin to a labourer’s. No, he was more likely to have had powdered hair, pale complexion and sloping shoulders.
A wedding breakfast was always served between 8.00am and 12.00pm. Lunch was once called nuncheon and was as much food as one could hold in one hand. Picnic meant picking at food and dinner would mean everything on the table at once, including the sweet course. Mealtimes changed with the onset of lighting, which allowed them to eat later in the day. French cooks began to appear in large houses as they tried to escape the French Revolution but were excessive. One was known to have used six pounds of butter to cook a dozen eggs, no statins available in those days!
Judith even went to the trouble of making rout cakes, which are mentioned in Emma. These were originally distributed after victory in battle and contained almond liqueur and white wine but became popular at fashionable gatherings. She also demonstrated how Darcy had prompted merchandise with Austen quotes and mentioned spin off books and films such as Bridget Jones’s Diary.
The club’s next meeting will be on Wednesday 12th February at Westhill Community Centre, Ordsall at 10.00am for 10.30am, when Sam Glasswell will speak about the Mayflower Pilgrims. All are welcome.