Book reviews : food, recipes

Hello, this is where I will post reviews of food related books.  I aim to write balanced and honest opinions of the same. 

Watch this space.. or don’t…. as it would be a bit like watching paint dry… or waiting for my Royal icing to dry when it always seems too fluid running slowly and exasperatingly down the side of my Christmas cake.  Tesco’s ready made royal icing has been my saviour in recent years (Shhh.. don’t tell anybody). 

the royal icing
Ho Ho Ho!

Book review: Meals on a Tray by Mrs C F Leyel

What a charming little book this is. I stumbled across it yesterday at my parents’ house while decluttering with my mother. I believe it dates from 1927 and was published by George Routledge & Sons Ltd in London.

Contained within the yellowed pages is lot of easy to follow advice about preparing meals on a tray and I love the quaint chapter heading “Impromptu meals on a tray” as opposed to more planned in advance meals on a tray, I suppose. Later on there is the excitement of “Tray Luncheons prepared in thirty minutes”.

This was the first page I turned to:


Sounds great, doesn’t it?

I love the decadence of the “decanter of claret” with such a simple meal. Who needs the pretentious 7 course tasting menus with wine pairings of today?! And although I am usually happier to dine at a proper table with company, who doesn’t like to relax with a tray on their lap once in a while.

I must endeavour to prepare this menu for you my blog readers some time and show you how attractively it can be presented on a tray in an impromptu fashion! I have no idea how to make butter into balls but I guess one can purchase a gadget for that.

This book is a down to earth link with the past and suits me just fine with my simple palate and my fascination for history. I guess it came from my grandparents’ house when it was sold a couple of years ago. I wonder if they prepared any of these menu ideas and who purchased this little gem and where from. Did they have their tray in their bed, in their room, downstairs listening to the wireless? In 1927 these were obviously not suggestions for TV dinners. No one has spilt a drop of claret on the parchment I might add.

“The lure of cookery” (lovely expression) text appears as a preface page above “Meals on a Tray” just inside the cover and I believe the book is part of a series of this name. I also picked up “Cold Savoury Meals” from my parents’ house from the same series. I will tell you more about that one another time, when we have all recovered from the excitement of the tray meals!

I had no idea this modest little book was at all valuable but I see one is listed for sale on eBay for £29.99 and I even found a rare copy listed on an online auction site for $500.

I am also curious about the author, Mrs C F Leyel. If anyone knows anything about her and her personal story I would be most interested to know. Thank you Mrs Leyel for bringing a smile to my face and your tray menus to my humble kitchen.

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