The splendour of British dining on TV
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Some of the funniest, most wickedly played scenes are those with John Gielgud as Edward Ryder, Charles's misanthropic father, who dines at his fusty London home in a frogged velvet smoking suit. The costumes are spectacular.Skip to next paragraph
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Then there is Paris.
''Order something good,'' Rex Mottram (Charles Keating), Julia's friend and later husband, tells Charles. ''That's my intention,'' he replies, and conjures up a meal that consists of ''sorrel soup, a sole quite simply cooked, caneton a la presse (pressed duck), and a lemon souffle.''
At the last moment,thinking it all too simple for the very rich Rex, he adds caviar and blinis and a salad of chicory ''misted in chives.''
As time passes and the story continues, there are meals on trains, in Morocco , at the Ritz, and on board ship.
There is a wonderful shipboard party with an ice swan crammed with caviar at center stage. How will people eat it?, Charles wonders. People always manage, his wife, Celia (Jane Asher), notes; we once ate potted shrimps with a paper knife, she says.
In the subsequent storm at sea, the ship's dining room is a hilarious toss and pitch of silver trays and teetering sweet trolleys. Charles and Julia are the only healthy passengers on board. He breakfasts on salmon kedgeree and cold Bradenham ham, she on Muscat grapes and cantaloupe.
''Brideshead Revisited'' is, in every frame, a movable feast. To celebrate its arrival, you might re-create the grand Parisian dinner. Or stock up on peaches and berries, whip up some potted shrimps, or fix a treacle tart.
Then, settle back for 11 weeks of this exquisite Baroque binge. Potted Shrimps 1 pound tiny shrimps 8 ounces butter 1/2 teaspoon ground mace 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon mustard 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper Salt
Boil shrimps for 3 minutes, drain, then peel carefully. Put butter in a saucepan with mace, nutmeg, mustard, and pepper. Let butter melt, add shrimps, stir and heat without boiling, which will toughen the shrimps.
Lift shrimps out and place in tiny pots. Reheat butter just until foamy and skim it. Pour at once over the shrimps so they are well covered. Allow to cool and set, seal pots by tying paper over the tops, and store in refrigerator. They will keep a week. Serve in pots with crisp toast.
If tiny shrimps are not available, use larger ones cut into sections. Diced lobster meat may be prepared the same way. From ''British Bouquet,'' by Samuel Chamberlain (Gourmet Books, Inc.). Norfolk Treacle Tart 10-inch flan dish or tin 3/4 pound (350 g) plain flour Pinch of salt 5 ounces (150 g) butter 1 egg, lightly beaten Iced water Filling 4 slices white bread 2 crisp apples, peeled, cored, grated 8 level tablespoons golden syrup Grated rind l lemon Juice 2 lemons 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/4 pint (150 ml) double cream 1 egg, lightly beaten
Make pastry by sifting flour and salt into large bowl. Rub in butter until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Make a well in center and add egg. Blend it in, adding just enough iced water to bind the mixture lightly together. Wrap and chill at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to gas mark 5, 375 degrees F. or 190 degrees C. Bring pastry to room temperature, then roll out thinly and use to line flan dish. Reserve remaining pastry for lattice top. Bake shell 10 minutes.
Grate bread to make crumbs and combine with apple in large bowl. Heat syrup to lukewarm and combine with crumbs, lemon rind, juice, eggs, and cream. When well blended, pour into the pastry and decorate top with lattice pastry strips.
Brush pastry with a little beaten egg. Bake in hot oven at gas mark 6, 400 degrees F. or 180 degrees C., for 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve warm or cold with cream. Serves 8 to 10. From ''Country Cuisine,'' by Elizabeth Kent (London: Sidgwick & Jackson).