Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham
Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham – an evening of culinary and theatrical experiment.
Morpeth-based performing arts company November Club’s new production Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham, written by Fiona Ellis, delves into the life of Hexham’s Hannah Glasse, considered by many to be the first domestic goddess.
But why was she so important? And why has she been forgotten?
Glasse was born in 1708; her father was a Hexham gentleman but unfortunately he was not married to her mother at the time. He took her away from her not very reliable mother and brought her up in Northumberland with his wife and family. Hannah’s own marriage was perhaps happy though ill advised. She married secretly at 16 to a husband who turned out not to be a great provider. Hannah herself earned their living in part by writing the first significant popular cook book, ‘The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy’.
No one knows quite how many editions the book had - more than twenty, perhaps forty. It was owned by American Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, by Benjamin Franklin and many other notables on both sides of the Atlantic.
But Hannah saw few of the proceeds - she was forced to sell her copyright to pay her debts in 1754. So others benefited from Hannah’s skill and possibly made small fortunes on the back of her talent. Women all over the world will recognise that injustice.
This imaginary time travelling performance brings together Glasse and Ann Cook, her arch rival and fellow cook book writer who was also a Hexham lass. In this work in progress piece, November Club celebrate both of these strong, opinionated and underrated women for what they achieved in inhospitable times and recognise them for the pioneering characters they were.
Andy Hook, owner of Blackfriars Restaurant said, “I am delighted and thrilled to have the opportunity to work with such a prestigious company such as the November Club and to be involved with such an amazing story. To have the story told in our very own Cookery School of one of the first celebratory cooks harking from this region is just wonderful and we’re very much looking forward to it.”
Katy Taylor, Artistic Director, Queen’s Hall Arts said, “We are thrilled to be working with November Club to bring this forgotten story to life. This work in progress will use the café in the Queen’s Hall which will give the audience a unique experience as the performers move between the tables. Regional voices are important within our community and it is time we learned about this feisty Hexham writer and rethink the history of the women of the North East.”
Foods and Feuds: Two Cooks of Hexham will be performed at Queens Hall Arts Centre Café, Hexham on Tuesday 21 May at 6.30pm and 8pm, and Blackfriars Cookery School, Newcastle on Thursday 23 May at 6pm and 8.30pm. There will also be a set menu dinner available at Blackfriars, served in the stunning Banqueting Hall at 7.15pm at £27.50pp.
Tickets for the performance cost £10.