Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Kate Atkinson's Life After Life was made for this blog.
Never before have I been so spoiled for choices for what to make for bookcooker. The novel is set in England, from about 1910 to after WWII and includes countless references to very British sounding dishes - roly poly, rose madder, windsor brown, lump cookies, milk fadge, cabinet pudding, picallili, bakewell tart, iced fancy. The list could go on. In addition, there is a brief detour in Germany - Pfannkuchen, Schokolade, Palatschniken, Schawrtzwalder kirschtorte. How could I possibly decide what to make?
I landed on Egyptian pudding, which I think was the first reference in the book to a fabulous English dessert. It was Mrs. Glover, the housekeeper to the Todd family makes after the birth of the book's protagonist - Ursula Todd. The shear volume of interesting British dishes is a result of the novel's unique narrative device - throughout the book Ursula Todd is born, dies and then born again - each time making it a little farther into her life.
Atkinson starts over and over again, starting the story from the same place - Ursula's birth, and each time some disaester befalls her. I thought this might bore me (the same stuff over and over again), but it really is a fascinating story every time - a little different every time. The effect of this unique narrative device was truly dazzling, and the Egyptian Pudding rocked too.