Thursday, May 24, 2007

Regency Dining





This first picture means nothing. I just like it.




Since food was such a luxury in our era, dining or feasting was always a momentous occasion. I thought I would focus on one meal.

This is a description of "a most sumptuous entertainment" given by The Chief Magistrate of Chester (General Grosvenor) in the Exchange, to his cousin Earl Grosvenor, several gentlemen of the country, the Corporation and his friends in the city. This is the Chester Exchange, before it burnt down in 1865. What a busy bustling market square out front and this building is huge, much bigger than it looks.

"The town hall was most tastefully decorated with variegated lamps. The tables were laid out in the following manner: Two long tables down each side of the room, joined at the top in a semi-circular form; and in the intermediate area smaller tables were laid across; in the center was placed a fine baron of beef, ornamented with appropriate devices, encircled by the motto—"

“O! The roast beef of Old England, O! the Old English roast beef.”

"On its right was a Christmas pie, weighing upwards of 200 pounds, containing four geese, four turkeys, six hares, a leg of veal, a leg of pork, sausages &c.; on its side were the heraldic bearings of the house of Eaton, supported by those of the General, with the family motto; on the left of the baron of beef was a salad, tastefully displayed with the motto" “Prosperity to the trade of Chester.”

"This table was surmounted with two elegant transparencies representing the east and north gates of the city."

"About five o’clock dinner was served up to which two hundred sat down. The following is a copy of the:

Bill of Fare

—16 tureens of turtle; 8 boiled turkeys; 3 ham; 4 dishes of a la mode beef; 5 pigeon pies; 3 saddles of mutton; 13 plum puddings; 6 dishes of muranede pork; 8 French pies; 4 roasted turkeys; 8 dishes of rabbits; 3 legs of mutton; 4 geese; 2 fillets of veal; 10 dishes of chickens; 4 dishes of veal surprise; 3 beefsteak pies; 3 dishes of sweet breads; 6 hares; 6 venison pasties; 8 dishes of ducks; 6 oyster patties; 6 dishes of mutton casserole; 6 dishes of pig; 6 lemon puddings; 8 dishes of haricaed mutton; 4 neats tongues; 3 dishes of collard veal; a round of beef.

Removes—Ten haunches of venison; 10 necks of venison.

Sweets—30 salvers of whips and jelly; 20 moulds of jelly; 40 moulds of blancmange; tarts; cheese cakes; mince pies, puffs, &c."

I don't know about you, but this menu did not make me feel hungry. But why is it important? Why spend the time finding out exactly what they ate? Well, while I think I would not put neats' tongues in a book I might well want to put blancmange, and oyster patties, and jelly and mince pies. And by doing this little bit of research, I can happily put them on the table.



While this is an image of the coronation banquet of George IV (yes our Prinny) I think it gives the flavor of what this Grosvenor feast must have been like. No balconies.

Until next time, Happy rambles.