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Don't worry! We won't have you baking a swan pie on our courses, but you could very well find yourself making a swan out of ice cream, like the beautiful Victorian example below.

A medley of 19th century ices


A Catherine Basket Ice

Click on the Catherine Basket to go directly to our Courses Page

The black and white print above is from Fancy Ices by Agnes Marshall, (London: 1880). It depicts a Catherine Basket, a spectacular Victorian ice cream in the form of a basket of fruit. It is garnished in the manner of the day with delicate fronds of maidenhair fern. Move your mouse pointer over the old print and you will see it transform into a real Catherine Basket. Click on the image and you will be taken directly to our COURSES PAGE outlining the many courses we offer in historic cookery tuition. If you are interested in learning how to make wonderful frozen desserts like the Catherine Basket and the swan, you might like to find out more by going to our pages which deal with courses in DAIRY FOODS AND ICES. Find out more about our other services on the ABOUT US page. There are currently three pages of links leading to historic recipes. Many visitors have found these fully illustrated pages one of the most interesting features of this site. Be sure not to miss them - click on RECIPES here or on the navigation bar.

"Ivan's courses are extraordinary . . . . . we made 17th- and 18th- century confectionery, delighting in the wit of quince paste love knots and the delicacy of bergamot wafers cooked in a cooling bread oven."

"At the table, it was Heaven. During that night's dinner, the suckling pig fell into my mouth in soft layers, with rich melting fat. This was the real roast meat of England, cooked in front of the fierce, dry heat of an open fire."

Hattie Ellis Eating England Mitchell Beazley, 2001

The main focus of Ivan's courses is English food, which he believes to be the most misunderstood and maligned of all European culinary traditions. Most contemporary English chefs and cooks look to other cultures for inspiration for new ideas. At Historic Food, we look to our own past and its remarkable gastronomic riches. You will be surprised at the extraordinary legacy of English food to be found on these pages. Yes, there are many historic dishes that are not suitable for the modern table, like the swan pie you saw when you entered this site (made by Ivan for the exhibition London Eats Out at the Museum of London in 2000). But the English culinary tradition, with its vast, almost unfathomable literature, is a treasure house of gastronomic gems, most of them now forgotten. It is a mistake to be romantic about the past, but English cookery has seen better days and there have been times when it really could compete with the best of other European countries. In the words of the early eighteenth century cook and author John Nott, our food was "not only for the support of Life, but also the gratifying the most sensual Appetite, that no neighbouring Nation can boast of a Superiority, nay, nor even pretend to compare with us, as to an Equality".

Find out more about the forgotten delights of English food and the remarkable skills that were once employed in its production by booking on one of our courses.

Search Historic Food and the World Wide Web with Google SafeSearch

NEW: we are now hosting a web page for the Leeds Symposium on Food History and Traditions. We have put a LEEDS button on the navigation bar at the top of the page.

For listeners to John Boyd on BBC Radio Leeds, there is now a page of Victorian Christmas recipes associated with Harewood House
The website of Ivan Day

Ivan has an international reputation for his research on British and European culinary history. As well as a scholar, broadcaster and writer, he is also a gifted professional cook and confectioner. He is noted particularly for his re-creations of meals and table settings. His work has been exhibited in many museums, including the Paul Getty Research Institute, Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of London, Fairfax House, the Bowes Museum and the Rothschild Collection.

Ivan is an enthusiastic educator and has lectured widely throughout Britain and the U.S.A. He also runs unique practical courses on period cookery, many of which take place in an historic kitchen in his own home, a seventeenth century farmhouse on the edge of the English Lake District.

As well as advertising the Historic Food Courses, this site contains a wealth of unique information, recipes and images relating to the history of English food. It demonstrates how Ivan uses period cookery illustrations, antique utensils and other primary sources to re-create the remarkable food of the past.

If like Ivan you are passionate about food and history, you may be interested in attending a course at what is probably Britain's most unusual cookery school. Ivan started his courses as a response to repeated requests from friends, food writers, chefs and museum staff who all wanted to have a go at preparing food in an authentic period kitchen. In recent years he has opened them to the public. Many National Trust properties and other historic houses have wonderful ancient kitchens equipped with period utensils - but it is not possible for the public to use these precious museum collections. However, Ivan has his own extensive working collection of antique kitchen equipment dating from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, which is used regularly on all the courses.

Click to find out more

Is this pudding alive? Or does it have a nervous disorder? Find out more by looking at our new recipe feature on English Puddings. This is just one of our many pages with visual annotations to historic English recipes. There are currently three Recipe Index Pages on the site. They are proving to be our most visited feature.

Unless otherwise stated, all photographs © Ivan Day 2006
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