I have another Christmas menu for you today, folks. It is from a marvelous source which I have used before: Host and guest: a book about dinners, wines, and desserts (1864), by Andrew Valentine Kirwan. The author gives the menus for quite a large number of celebrity dinners of the nineteenth century, and amongst them is one attended by the French king Louis XVIII in England, where he spent some time in exile during the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte.
As we have discussed many times, dinners at the time were served in two or three ‘courses’, all dishes for each course being put on the table at one time, all to be replaced for the next course. The arrangement of the dishes on the table was subject to strict hierarchical rules, and a bill of fare was not merely a list of dishes, but required a picture too, so that Mistress and staff might know where, exactly, to place each platter, bowl, or ornament.
The author of the book briefly explains the event before showing the layout of the table.
‘At the Christmas dinner of the Duke of Buckingham, in 1808, Louis XVIII was present, and the following was the bill of fare, as prepared by Mr. Simpson, the duke’s cook. It is undoubtedly more substantial than elegant.’
I thought we might go for a vegetable dish today, so here are some instructions from another book of the era, on preparing red cabbage.
They are mostly stewed to eat with ham, bacon or smoked sausages; though sometimes without any meat: they are very strong eating, and should be first scalded, then stewed with butte, pepper, salt, and cloves; and vinegar to be added to it just before serving: they are reckoned most wholesome in veal broth for consumptions; but are most suitable for pickling, as girkins, &c., &c.
The professed cook; or, The modern art of cookery, pastry, & confectionary ... (1812), by B. Clermont.