chapter  13
18 Pages

In the Soup

Food and Hospitality in Wartime Wodehouse
WithAriel Buckley

Bertram Wooster’s love of food continually lands him in the soup. In The Code of the Woosters (1937), for instance, Bertie’s Aunt Dahlia blackmails her nephew into stealing a silver cow-creamer by threatening to bar him from her table, where Anatole – Dahlia’s volatile but brilliant French chef – reigns supreme. Bertie’s horror at the prospect of missing out on Anatole’s superb meals ensnares him in a series of the uncomfortable and hilarious misunderstandings that are the hallmark of P.G. Wodehouse’s fiction. As in each of the Jeeves works, random, often food-centred events drive this comic plot: a collector’s irrational desire for a mundane silver dish, the persuasive power of gourmet dinners, a two-way abuse of country house hospitality. In the world of Jeeves and Wooster, portrayed in dozens of short stories and novels between 1917 and 1974, food-based hospitality is a crucial narrative catalyst.