April 2, 2015
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Sophie Blackall
In honor of April Fool’s Day which was yesterday, a book about a dessert with fool in the name.
A Fine Dessert:
Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat
written by Emily Jenkins
illustrated by Sophie Blackall
Schwartz and Wade
In 1710 in England, a girl and her mother pick the blackberries that they need to make a fine dessert for their family. They whip the cream with a bundle of clean twigs and chill the blackberry fool in a hillside ice pit.
In 1810 in New World, a girl and her mother pick the blackberries needed to make a fine dessert for Master and his family. They whip the cream with a wire whisk made by the local smith and chill the blackberry fool in a box of ice in the cellar.
By 1910, the girl and her mother buy the berries from a fruit vendor. They use a rotary whisk. The dessert is chilled in an ice box in their kitchen.
In 2010, a boy and his father pick up berries at the local supermarket. They use an electric mixer and chill the dessert in their refrigerator. Later they serve it to a group of their friends.
This book is so much more than a book about food. In the simplest way it shows how customs traveled from England to the Americas. Although how the families gather the ingredients and prepare them changes, the sense of family remains much the same. I also have to say that I appreciate the fact that Jenkins didn’t shrink away from historic reality, including the slave and her daughter in the narrative.
Blackall did a wide variety of research into clothing, furnishings and kitchen craft for her illustrations. Readers who look carefully may even spot where in the book she painted with blackberry juice.
Readers are invited to take part in this story by following the recipe at the end of the book to make their own find dessert of blackberries, sugar and cream that they can then share with family and friends.