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What Would Mrs. Patmore Cook? Preparations For 'Downton Abbey' Watch Parties

BJ Austin
Sheela Kadam offers proper English fruit pies to customers at The British Emporium in Grapevine.

The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" makes its U.S. premiere Sunday night on PBS.  That’s KERA-TV, Channel 13, in North Texas. The British miniseries chronicles the lives of the uppercrust Crawley family and their cadre of servants downstairs. Across North Texas, "Downton Abbey" fans are planning proper commemorations.

English ex-pat SheelaKadam moved to Grapevine 22 years ago and opened The British Emporium. She’s planning what she calls a proper English supper for her family watch party. But not that proper. They’ll be sitting in front of a big screen TV.

“Roast rack of lamb and mint sauce, of course.  You have to have mint sauce for your rack of lamb,” Kadam said. “We love our roast potatoes and veggies.  I’ll probably have smoked salmon for a starter and a good British pudding.”

Kadam says it’s been a lot of fun to see "Downton Abbey" fans come to her shop asking questions about traditional British cuisine … and what ingredients Mrs. Patmore would have used in this dish or that. She says she’s advised a lot of them on how to serve a proper tea or British supper for their Season 5 watch parties. So, who peaks her interest this season?

“I’d like to see how Lady Edith fares,” Kadam said. “And also I’d like to see who Lady Mary picks because I have no idea about that.”

Kadam’s shop stocks a larder that would make Mrs. Patmore proud, from English cheddar to meat pies to marmite.

Customer Rollin Phipps says for him the star of the series is Highclere Castle, the setting for "Downton Abbey." Last year he went to England and took the tour. He’s anxious to know the next step for Mrs. Hughes, head of housekeeping and Carson the Butler.

“They’re not major characters but they basically run the downstairs area. The way they interact and kind of play off one another,” Phipps said.

Tierza Henderson of Southlake carried a small basket through the British Emporium, shopping for shortbread cookies to take to her friend’s house for a watch party. She says she’s just mesmerized by the characters, costumes, the way of life.

“Because they’re lives and stories that we don’t really have any other relation to. I mean you don’t think about an American society quite like that,” Henderson said. “So, it’s being let back into that time period.”

Kadam says it’s wonderful to see the enthusiasm Americans have for the show. She talks about her Cowboy boot-wearing husband.    

“But when Matthew dies in the car crash, my husband – he’s a big ol' Texan – but he was really shocked about that,” Kadam said. “He was really quite shocked.”

No word on what shocks are ahead for Season 5 of "Downton Abbey."

One thing that isn’t in doubt: There will be a Season 6.  

Former KERA reporter BJ Austin spent more than 25 years in broadcast journalism, anchoring and reporting in Atlanta, New York, New Orleans and Dallas. Along the way, she covered Atlanta City Hall, the Georgia Legislature and the corruption trials of Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards.