I'd heard people talk about the Mapp and Lucia books with the sort of veneration offered to Nancy Mitford's books, or Cold Comfort Farm, but without any real idea of what they were about. Then I saw that the BBC had done a dramatisation of them featuring Duckface and Queenie. If two such talented actors were involved, the source material had to be worth a look.
The books are interesting. Definitely readable and enjoyable, but the characters are all so nasty and petty. In Lucia in London, a group of people who are entertained by Lucia's social-climbing antics forms, calling itself the Luciaphils. I got the impression that E.F Benson was very much a Luciaphil, seeing right through and being amused by his own creation.
Anyway, as part of her climbing, Lucia befriends Mrs Allingsby "tall, weird and intense, dressed rather like a bird-of-paradise that had been out in a high gale, but very well connected". Mrs Allingsby invites her to meet a painter, Sigismund: "Breakfast about half past twelve. Vegetarian with cocktails". Benson is using the invitation to mock Mrs Allingsby's Bohemian affectations, but what could be nicer than breakfast about half past twelve? Especially with cocktails.
So, I made broccoli sformati and a jug of bloody mary. Lucia, when not in a position to be challenged, claims to speak Italian, but I think she may have referred to my sformato as a souffle.