Downton Abbey Dish #32

Deborah Gilbert | December 1, 2014

I hope you all had a wondrous Thanksgiving thinking about all the things you have to be thankful for – and I hope that one of the things on your list is all the fantastic programming PBS brings into our lives. I know that’s on my list!

The week before last I interviewed Jessica Fellowes about her fabulous new book, A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey, you’ll have to stay tuned till next time dear Downtonians for all the details, but till then, I can report that I did try one of the book’s authentic recipes, Parmesan Straws, to take to a party and, despite the fact that I am seriously baking-impaired, they turned out great! They didn’t look like the picture in the book (nothing I cook ever does), but the party-goers/guinea pigs pronounced them ‘delicious!’ I believe this is what Countess Martha of Stewart would call, ‘a good thing.’

Top Chef Downton:

And speaking of cooking, in this clip we celebrate the tough love of Mrs. Patmore, whose Parmesan Straws, I’m sure, always turn out picture perfect. Mrs. Patmore is another one of those characters we’ve enjoyed watching develop over time. Such are the joys of continuing drama. It allows a great writer the time and space to add shades and complexities and allows us viewers to peek behind the veneer of each character.

Can You Say ‘Entail’?:

Downton fever has reached Japan where Season 1 was only recently broadcast, and now the show is being used to teach English. Yes, I can hear them now, ‘Class, repeat after me, “He deserves to know how his countryman died, in the arms of a slut!” “He deserves to know…” The idea came from the British Council in Japan and even the British Ambassador turned up for a class (held in a pub, naturally). Downtonians in Japan are attracted to the same things about Downton as we are, and both the show and the English classes have become a big hit. I have to say though, while I think it’s a great idea to use Downton Abbey to teach English, I think it would sure be a lot of fun to see it dubbed into Japanese. Don’t you?

Prince Charming:

Andrew Prince is the jewelry designer responsible for many of the baubles we see the Ladies wearing on the show and recently he was in town to promote his creations,. Prince says that while the Downton look is opulent it’s also subtle, “so it complements any type of clothing.” This is good because I’m a practical girl so I want a tiara that goes from the office to a night out on the town (ie; a slice of pizza) with ease, don’t you? As opulent as it is, his line is affordable because he’s using Cubic Zirconia instead of diamonds. But hey, if the CZ’s aren’t enough for you, and you happen to have a hundred thousand quid tospare (that’s $160K in U.S. money), there’s a jeweler in London who will sell you that gorgeous leaf pattern Crawley tiara that Lady Edith tossed on the ground after Sir Anthony took off running (bitter tears not included).

Love is in the Details:

I never tire of hearing about the wacky period etiquette from Historical Oracle Alastair Bruce who, in this article, sounds a lot like my grandmother who always told me to, “sit up straight!” This is a common problem for the modern actresses on the show as well because women carried themselves differently back then. Bruce is such a stickler for period detail everywhere he finds it that, in this article in The Telegraph, he says he once stopped the filming of a bedroom scene because the bed was not turned down in the proper concertina way for a fine house of that period.

Bruce also talks about the correct way to pronounce ‘Downton’. Apparently, we’ve all been saying it oh so subtly incorrectly all this time. And I should add that while I referred to the period etiquette as wacky, I kid because I love. It is all that attention to period detail, in all aspects of the show,that creates the magic that allows us to be so utterly absorbed into this (alleged) fantasy world. I should also add that despite my grandmother’s best efforts I am slouching in front of the keyboard right now. Neither she nor Alastair would approve.

Midnight Madness:

For any Downtonian there’s an enjoyable bit of role reversal in this remake of Cinderella: Upstairs Lady Rose (Lily James) plays the downtrodden title character while Daisy (Sophie McShera) plays one of the nasty step-sisters. Here’s a trailer.

From the Great Beyond:

Did you know that since leaving Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens has been living right here in the Big Apple? Recently, a tabloid caught up with Matthew (via Ouija board, obviously) and asked, “What prompted you to move from the United Kingdom to the United States?” His reply? “Well, I’ve always wanted to live in Brooklyn, it’s a particularly beautiful neighborhood with lots of old literary connections. New York itself has always fired me and it’s an inspiring place to base myself right now.”

Smells Like Downton Spirit:

If you can’t commit to a costume to get into Downton Abbey Cosplay, maybe this is for you: A new line of Downton-inspired perfumes. You can wear scents inspired by Anna, Countess Violet, Ladies Mary, Cora, Rose or Edith (the latter smelling like crushed dreams, no doubt), or Daisy. Wait a minute, Daisy? I’m thinking Downstairs Daisy would smell like sweat with a hint of yesterday’s bacon grease. Amiright? In all, there are seven different scents to choose from (or don’t choose, get the set!) At first glance they may seem pricey, but that is because they are pure perfumes, undiluted by alcohol. I haven’t had the chance to test them, but they look pretty interesting and like they would make a great gift.   Where can you buy them? Shop PBS of course.

Goodnight Nurse:

Recently Joanne Froggatt answered questions from Downtonians via Twitter. If you missed it, you can read the whole thread on Downton Abbey’s official Tumblr page here. Don’t worry, there are no spoilers. Joanne kind of sounds like our Pollyanna, so we’ll let her have the last word.

OK, maybe the second to last word…in this season of giving we are being given another gift from THIRTEEN: Downton Abbey Season 4 has an encore showing starting next Sunday night, Dec. 7th at 8pm. Sit up straight and enjoy! See you next time Downtonians!

One of Joanne’s responses from her Twitter Q&A