Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Regency Eating.


We are eating in Enland during the Regency period today, which will be nice for a change. John Simpson gives a suggested menu for each day of the year in his book the Complete System of Cookery, published in 1816. Cook books of the time often showed how to set the dishes out on the table too, because the style of service was quite different to today, and the overall display as the diners approached the table was most important. There were generally two courses, each course containing a number of dishes which were arranged on the table with great symmetry. The guests certainly got to appreciate the spectacle, but the food must often have been cool before they got to it. There was no clear distinction between savoury and sweet dishes, although in the particular example today there is nothing that we would confuse with ‘dessert’. When the two courses were eaten, guests would then enjoy the ‘banquet’ – often in a different location. The banquet consisted of fruit and sweetmeats, and eventually all the sweet dishes moved over to the banquet ‘course’ – which eventually became ‘dessert’, from the French verb meaning to ‘un-serve’ or clear away.

We are eating in Enland during the Regency period today, which will be nice for a change. John Simpson gives a suggested menu for each day of the year in his book the Complete System of Cookery, published in 1816. Cook books of the time often showed how to set the dishes out on the table too, because the style of service was quite different to today, and the overall display as the diners approached the table was most important. There were generally two courses, each course containing a number of dishes which were arranged on the table with great symmetry. The guests certainly got to appreciate the spectacle, but the food must often have been cool before they got to it. There was no clear distinction between savoury and sweet dishes, although in the particular example today there is nothing that we would confuse with ‘dessert’. When the two courses were eaten, guests would then enjoy the ‘banquet’ – often in a different location. The banquet consisted of fruit and sweetmeats, and eventually all the sweet dishes moved over to the banquet ‘course’ – which eventually became ‘dessert’, from the French verb meaning to ‘un-serve’ or clear away.

There were two dishes ‘à la Flamond’ on this day, which seems to be taking balance a little too far, to me.

Soup à la Flamond.
Shred turnips, carrots, green onions, and one Spanish onion; add lettuce, half a pint of asparagus peas; put them into a small soup-pot, a little stock, and about two ounces of butter; put them on a slow stove to sweat down ofr an hour; put in as much flour as will dry up the butter; then fill it up with best stock, and let it boil by the side of the stove for half an hour. Make a laison of the yolks of four eggs (for two quarts of soup) beat the yolks up well with a spoon; put a pint of cream that has been boiled and got cold; strain it through a sieve, and put a large spoonful of beshemell to it: take the soup from the fire and put in the laison, keep stirring while putting it in, then put the soup on the fire; be sure to keep stirring it until it comes to a boil, then take it off: keep it hot by putting the soup-pot into a stew-pan of hot water

Cauliflower à la Flamond
Boil the cauliflower: when done take it up and lay it on the back of a sieve to drain all the water from it, then put it into a stew-pan with a little beshemell; when quite hot, dish it up, put parmasan cheese, then brown it with a salamander.

Quotation for the Day …

In cooking, clear as you go. Isabella Beeton.

2 comments:

Mercy said...

Does that regency cookbook have menus for breakfast and lunch, too, or is it just for dinners? I've been wondering about what they ate for breakfast and lunch back then for ages!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to know what they eat on picnics. What was eaten on Box Hill?