I’d forgotten how much I loved the British reality series The 1900 House until I tried my hand at making gumbo using the 1901 recipe from my last post. About 30 minutes into cooking I wondered how big a 1901 stovetop was. That’s when I remembered the gigantic wood-eating, never-let-the-embers-die cooker from The 1900 House.
The BBC-PBS series ushered-in the Millennium airing in 1999 and 2000. It starred a real British Family, The Bowlers, who had applied along with hundreds of others for the television history experiment. They moved into a 1900 house for three months, leaving their modern world behind. They performed every chore and task using vintage methods and tools – right down to homemade shampoo and sore throat cures. British experts dropped in to teach family members how to adapt. And, of course, the series kept the viewers hooked by airing family member’s video diaries.
Most Victorian-era households had a cook or at least a maid-of-all-work, a chicken coop and a small garden for fresh vegetables. I grow fresh herbs, but it took a trip to the Farmer’s Market for tomatoes and okra for my 1901 experiment. I counted out 50 okra according to recipe, one by one, choosing small fresh ones. (Fortunately the customer before me teaching her daughter how to choose okra didn’t take all the good ones). I had to check with my mother, though, for the best way to skin a tomato – dip in boiling water for a minute, then plunge in ice water.
I prepared my 1901 gumbo in a much larger kitchen than the one in The 1900 House, but 1900 soup pots must have been bigger than my six-quart soup pot. I dug out the big gumbo pot
midway through cooking. I should have anticipated that since most Victorian-era families had five or six children. Plus they fed parents and the help from the same pot. About two hours into chopping I wished I had a maid-of-all-work from The 1900 House.
But my delicious, authentic 1901 Okra Gumbo offered up exactly what the recipe promised — a superior flavor. And I’ve got plenty to freeze and share!