Lengths Long Sutton couple go to to produce historic recipes

Learning history is good fun, discovers Charlie Ward, making Spam sandwiches with Cheryl Kalane and Julia Gant. Photo: SG100814-111TW
Learning history is good fun, discovers Charlie Ward, making Spam sandwiches with Cheryl Kalane and Julia Gant. Photo: SG100814-111TW
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It’s not just recipe books that 4 and 20 Blackbirds historical interpreter Julia Gant uses for research.

Julia sources original kitchenalia from auctions and antique shops to make their presentations as accurate as possible.

For instance, Julia has an ice cream ‘cave’ once used for keeping it cold, and one of probably only three in the world according to experts.

She claims to have as many books about service as recipe books, and says: “It’s as much about how you serve and present it as it is about cookery, and then you have the whole experience.

“We were doing Downton Abbey before Downton Abbey!”

At home, Julia and Nigel like to do things properly too, and that means sitting down to a meal at the table, with a table cloth and silver plate.

She says: “It’s part of respecting the food. If I have gone to the trouble to cook it I want to sit and savour it.”

And while most people today are unlikely to take the time to produce the kind of banquets enjoyed in medieval times, Julia can confirm some of the old recipes are “like nothing you’ve ever tasted”.