Some time ago Boyfriend and I started watching ‘Downton Abbey’. We haven’t watched it before. At the beginning we laughed a lot because it is a classic example of a British subdued drama, just like Eddie Izzard described:
There are some decent one liners, I am not sure if they are unintentionally hilarious or intended by the writer.
At first I thought – classic drama written by a toff, where the lord is a gentle soul, the upstairs treats the downstairs with respect and in a nice manner. There is never a coal miner shown, or any real poverty in the working class. Obviously it is nostalgic for any toff watching, because those times were marvelous for them. Well, then again, current days still are for most of them. And even though at first I was rolling my eyes when lord Grantham and his butler were against anything new, any changes, soon I remembered the program Country House Rescue. It was a documentary program in which Ruth Watson (a hotelier and businesswoman) advised the owners of stately British homes how to diversify and raise revenue to keep their houses. For her it was a really frustrating tasks as in most of the episodes old country houses owners refused to change anything and stubbornly fought any new ideas. And as soon as I remembered that I thought, all right, so it’s actually believable. Why wouldn’t it be, it was written by a toff after all.
But then I thought about how popular it is, and how well it did in America. And that made me think again. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing. At least people get to know what’s polite and how to behave, to show good manners. Who nowadays is getting up when a lady enters the room? How many people know how to dine and have luncheon and keep the conversation topics polite, non offensive and flowing? Also, makes you feel appreciative towards suffragettes and all those who fought for women’s rights. All women who think feminism is a dirty word should be ashamed because let me assure you, if you are one of them, would you move back to the times when you couldn’t inherit anything because of your gender, weren’t allowed to study, work or vote, even drive or go anywhere without a chaperon? I am forever grateful to be able to do all of it, and looking forward to the times when the glass ceiling is shattered.
But moving on, Downton Abbey makes me always think of the great original film – ‘Gosford Park’. First of all because of Maggie Smith. She plays the same role in every movie, but she does that with grace and class. Boyfriend and I quite often wonder if she’s type casted or is it her choice of roles…So we always imagine what would it be like if she played in a mafia movie and talked with a New Jersey twang. Whenever she appears on the screen, we say something like :’ Hey Maggie, where’s the pizzas?!’
Secondly because it was co-written by the same writer and apparently Downton Abbey was supposed to be a spin-off of ‘Gosford Park’, before it became a different story set earlier then Gosford’s one.
‘Gosford Park’ is so much better and lively. Maybe because the magnificent American director, Robert Altman, was involved. He was famous for making any scenario real, any dialogue natural. ‘Gosford Park’ is a study of class system, study of characters and people’s behaviour. There are many layers to the story, the main core of it being Agatha Christie-like country house murder mystery, where all the suspects are under one roof.
And you can have it with sugar free, gluten free cake
Almond and Orange Polenta Cake:
200 g ground almonds
100 g polenta
1 tbs baking powder
grated zest and juice of 1 orange
150 ml olive oil
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup xylitol (or 3/4 cup honey)
For the cream:
1 1/2 cup Greek thick yoghurt
1/2 agave syrup
1 tbsp orange blossom water
raspberries to decorate
1. Preheat oven to 160 C. Grease cake tin. Mix polenta, almonds, baking powder and orange zest together.
2. In a separate bowl mix eggs and xylitol for 5 minutes until they double in size. If you are using honey, mix eggs first.
3. Add oil, juice of half orange, almond milk and mix together. Add dry ingredients and mix well. Pour the mixture into cake form and bake for 30- 45 minutes (should be golden on top and skewer should come out clean).
4. Remove from the oven. Heat juice of remaining half an orange with 4 spoons of xylitol. Wait till it desolves. Pierce the cake with spaghetti and pour your orange juice over the cake. Leave it to cool.
5. Mix yoghurt with orange blossom water and agave syrup. When the cake is completely cool, spread yoghurt on top of it, decorate with raspberries.