‘Downton Abbey,” a soap opera disguised in period costume, takes place in England in the 1910s and oozes with romance and intrigue. Equal screen time is given to the opulent life of the Crawleys, a fictional aristocratic British family, and their servants. That formula has created a monster hit for PBS TV and Masterpiece.
Food indirectly weaves a common thread throughout most episodes. Many scenes take place in dining rooms and among the kitchen and service staff below. There’s plenty for food lovers to admire (and speculate about online), though scratch the surface and there’s more illusion than reality behind the scenes.