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Dickens Museum stages Food Glorious Food: Christmas with Dickens

By Angela Cole

He was the author of Christmas as we know it, so what would you have if you were sitting down to Christmas dinner with Charles Dickens?

Food Glorious Food: Dinner with Dickens explores food in Dickens’s life from recipes recovered at his home, and the most significant food scenes in his novels, as well as first-hand accounts of dining with Dickens and a host of Victorian food trends, treats and flavours.

The exhibition runs at the Charles Dickens Museum in Doughty Street, Bloomsbury - Dickens’s London townhouse and his first family home – until April.

Food Glorious Food at the Dickens Museum in London (5726671)
Food Glorious Food at the Dickens Museum in London (5726671)

The exhibition also marks the 175th anniversary of the publication of A Christmas Carol, and looks at the author’s enduring influence on the celebration of the festive season, with the house dressed for Christmas as it would have been in his day.

It shows his dinner parties - essential food for his imagination - and his childhood memories of hunger and his belief that rich and poor alike had the right to enjoy food and drink.

The exhibition is packed with culinary items used by Dickens and draws on letters and first-hand accounts by his dinner guests to build a vivid picture of the experience of enjoying dinner with him.

The Dickens Museum in London
The Dickens Museum in London

It was at Doughty Street that Dickens created Oliver Twist, a novel which revolves around hunger and the need for food - the plight of orphan Oliver Twist reflects the hardship of Dickens’s own childhood - something which remained a secret until after his death.

Food Glorious Food is on at the Dickens Museum in London into 2019
Food Glorious Food is on at the Dickens Museum in London into 2019

Some surprising recipe combinations are revealed - such as steak and turtle - and conjures images of Victorian street food sellers and the pubs where Dickens dined.

Dickens, who lived near Higham, and used many Kent sites in his books including around Rochester, appealed to his readers to show why children should have decent food. When Oliver Twist says to Mr Bumble “Please sir, I want some more” it would be against the strict rule in workhouses against second helpings. Visitors can also see the Victorian dining table, featuring items used by Dickens and his family and the large wooden lemon squeezer he used to prepare his favourite punch. Food Glorious Food is at the Charles Dickens Museum until April 22, 2019.

For tickets visit dickensmuseum.com or call 020 7405 2127. Entry is £9.50 and £4.50 for children from six to 16.

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