The Cookbook: Fortnum & Mason—newly available in the US—tells the culinary story of a department store that dates back more than three centuries.
In it, food critic Tom Parker Bowles dove deep into the history of the London institution that is its namesake. Fortnum and Mason had its humble beginnings in 1707 when a footman to Queen Anne named William Fortnum started a side business reselling old candles leftover from lighting the palace. But Bowles explains that, over the last 300 hundred years, the store has become “synonymous with the best of British produce—and the best from all over the world.”
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Over the years, says Bowles, “it became a store that, basically, fed empire. Kings, queens, maharajas. Fortnum’s has been up Everest, they’ve been down the Nile, down the Amazon. If you look through British history—the Churchills, the Wellingtons and the Nelsons—they all would have been fed on Fortnum and Mason.”