I am back again to follow up on my promise in my last post, to give you some information on food and dining during Georgian/Regency and Victorian periods.
Jane Austen, of course, wrote during this period, so there is a fair amount of information out there on Regency-era food. Not surprisingly, there are quite a few blog posts, most dealing with Austen:
* http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2006/09/02/an-english-meal/ - This one has links to a number of other posts, as well as books.
* http://laura.chinet.com/html/recipes.html - Several recipes are listed here.
* http://cookit.e2bn.org/historycookbook/34-344-georgians-regency-Food-facts.html - Many snippets on Georgian and Regency eating/cooking habits. I don't have any idea where this site gets its facts, but it's a nice starting point for further research.
As for books, open a Jane Austen and you will see meals described. The Jane Austen Centre in Bath has a number of Regency recipes on its website, as well as a description of table manners during the period. They also sell a book called "Cooking with Jane Austen and Friends." A search on Amazon revealed no fewer than five similar tomes; Jane Austen is big business.
You can also find Regency era cookbooks on GoogleBooks, somewhat more intelligible than the medieval variety. One of them is the delightfully named, "The Art of Cookery, Made Plain and Easy; Which far exceeds any Thing of the Kind yet published." It was written by Hannah Glasse and revised a number of times in the mid- and late-18th century. It features recipes, as well as helpful hints including instructions "To keep venison and hares sweet; or to make them fresh when they stink."
First, for a glimpse at an actual Victorian kitchen, check out this fascinating story from the Daily Mail: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2037644/Victorian-kitchen-remained-untouched-60-years.html.
The cookbook as we know it today was first popularized in the Victorian era, in response to the growing middle class and the increased need for servants, especially cooks. There were over 100 best-selling cookbooks and household guides published during the nineteenth century, intended primarily for the middle class. There were a number of celebrated cookbook authors, among them Eliza Acton from the early Victorian period; Isabella Beeton (whose Book of Household Management has been revised continually since 1861, even though she died in 1865); and Charles Francatelli, who at one time served as chef to Queen Victoria.
Many of these cookbooks can be accessed for free at GoogleBooks. I can't guarantee the instructions are easily translatable to modern times, however. For example, the recipe for Turtle Soup in Mr. Francatelli's book is three pages long, and begins, “Procure a fine lively fat turtle, weighing about 120lbs. . .” The first instruction reads, “When time permits, kill the turtle over night, where it may be left to bleed in a cool place till morning. . .“ I think I’ll stick with the Mulligatawney Soup, thanks.
Do a search for Victorian cooking and you’ll come across quite a few sites. Here are just a few:
* http://19thcentury.wordpress.com. Browse and you’ll find a number of posts on cooking.
* http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/francatelli-bills-fare.php, which features a Victorian menu for each month of year, taken from the 1861 cookbook by Charles Francatelli, http://www.thecooksguide.com/articles/francatelli.html.
* This is a great site which features original articles from Victorian publications. In addition to articles on cooking from “Girls’ Own Paper,” you’ll find articles on beauty, fashion, how to host a children’s party, and a bride’s first dinner party. http://www.mostly-victorian.com/cooking.shtml
Finally, YouTube has a series of videos on the Victorian Kitchen, broadcast by the BBC in 1989: http://www.youtube.com/user/victoriantvseries/videos. These are brilliant (three days to make a consomme!), and I am totally hooked. This series was inspired by an earlier one on the Victorian kitchen garden.
I could easily keep going (I haven't touched the Edwardian period, after all), but it’s time to cook for the very modern family in my house. They have not, unfortunately, been terribly receptive to my efforts to cook Victorian fare (and I'm afraid to try to cook medieval for fear of revolt), so we'll be having spaghetti.
Until next time,
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