A fascinating post on one of my favorite subjects, the history of food.
Nom nom nom ~ Regency style
by M.M. Bennetts
…The first meal of the day was generally taken at ten. It lasted for about an hour and it was a good solid English breakfast. ‘Morning’ itself then lasted until dinner at perhaps three or four in the afternoon. Dinner went on for about two hours…For the most part, there were two courses, often called removes, plus dessert. And the servants didn’t serve each individual from a tray onto their plate either.
Oh, and there was no allotted placement either, with the exception that the host would be the first into the room, escorting the ‘senior’ lady, and taking his place at the foot of the table, while the hostess sat at the upper end of the table and the guest(s) of honour sat near her.
When the family or family and guests walked into the dining room, the table would already be spread with an array of dishes of every kind of food–soup, fish, game, poultry, meat, pies, sauces, pickles, vegetables, puddings both sweet and savoury, jellies and custards. Depending upon the occasion, there might be anything from five to twenty five different dishes, all arranged symmetrically around a centre dish.
Initially, it was the host who would supervise the serving of the soup and/or carve the joints of meat that might be brought in once the soup tureens were removed. A kind of balance was also maintained with fish–usually with salmon at one end of the table and perhaps turbot at the other.
After the meat–saddle of mutton, haunch of venison, sirloin of beef–had been carved, the gentlemen at the table helped themselves from the nearest dishes and offered it to his neighbour, or else a servant was to fetch a dish from another part of the table.
It does sound like a great deal of food, yes. But generally, one didn’t eat one’s way through everything. It seems to have been more a case of choosing three or four things that one liked from amongst the array…
Once the family and guests had eaten as much as they wished from that first selection, an intermediate course of cheese, salad, raw celery and suchlike might be brought round. Then the table was cleared, and a second remove of an equal quantity of different dishes was brought in and arranged on the table, with, just as previously, both sweet and savoury dishes included…
Louis Simond, a Franco-American with an English wife, visited England in 1810-11 and left this record: “There are commonly two courses and a dessert. I shall venture to give a sketch of a moderate dinner for ten or twelve persons–First course [included] Oyster sauce, Fish, Spinage, Fowls, Soup, Bacon, Vegetables, Roast or Boiled Beef, Vegetables. Second course [included] Creams, Ragout a la Francaise, Pastry, Cream, Macaroni, Cauliflowers, Game, Pastry. Dessert [included] Walnuts, Apples, Raisins and Almonds, Cakes, Raisins and Almonds, Pears, Oranges.”
Read the entire article at English Historical Fiction Authors