Sunday, May 27, 2007

Town and Country Dining

Beth, you ask a good question. I think that perhaps the main difference in dining is not going to be where you are living, but who you are.

Here is a picture of the Thames in those times, you can see the tower of London in the background. Just look at all of those masts, ships up and down the river. This was how goods came in from other countries and sometime how it was transported around the country also.

Each type of food had its own market in London, Covent Garden for fruits and veg, most of those coming up for the surrounding countryside. The first picture is of Covent Garden on an election day. But you can get a sense of it.

Billingsgate for fish is the next picture. More ships and you can just imagine the smell.

The last picture is of Smithfield the meat market.

Anyway, most of this produce was home grown and seasonal and just as available in the country as in the town.

So the only thing Londoners might have that the country gentleman might not would be expensive foreign items which might not make it to the country markets. And of course those who were rich would simply have them brought in.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the real difference would be between rich and poor. Meat would be expensive, so it would have to go a lot further and be used in gruels and stews. Things like neats tongues (which were on our last menu) would probably be something the poor would never taste, whereas interestingly enough oysters were a poor man's regular diet.

So I think you are quite safe in the country with any kind of food that did not require a French chef or something not grown in England. One thing you have to remember is that England was at war with France and most of Europe during much of this period, not to mention the odd tiff with America, and therefore imported goods were limited.

Until next time, Happy Rambles.


  1. Excellent posts on food. Just excellent. Thank you for the wonderful illustrations that go along with them. You make this era come alive.

  2. Thank you. She curtseys and smiles gently.
    I am so happy to hear that you are pleased.

  3. Thank you for, as usual, wonderfully detailed information.