Summer Banquet Blog Hop

Summer banquet hop copy   The Giveaway is now closed. Congratulations to Amy B., Lisa and Mary Ellen, winners of the give away.

Welcome to Random Bits of Fascination, my home on the internet.

Please take a moment to take a look around. There’s Regency Life and History a’la Carte for the history buffs, Promotional news of new books, blog events and even free kindle books on Fridays, interviews to help you discover a new favorite author, blogger or website, and a new original story, It Only Stand to Reason with new chapters posting Wednesdays.

mag collage copyFor this giveaway hop, I’m offering three prizes:  two sets of exclusive Jane Austen items–sets of two notecards, a magnet and book plate with Austen quotes, and one e-book, winner’s choice from any of my three books, Darcy’s Decision, The Future Mrs. Darcy and All the Appearance of Goodness.

Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will be entered in the giveaway.  New follows on the blog, likes on FB and twitter follows will earn extra entries and new newsletter subscriptions will earn a double entry. I have comment moderation turned on, so don’t panic if your comment doesn’t appear right away.

Thanks for coming by and I hope to see you again soon!

Dinner with Mrs. Rundel

 Oftentimes writers write what they know and I suppose I am no exception. With three teen-aged sons, food can be a big deal. Lots of entertaining and important things happen around the dinner table. So it isn’t surprising that in nearly everything I write I feature at least one important mealtime scene.

All this is well and good, except that food, like everything else has changed a great deal in the last two hundred or so years. What constitutes a satisfying meal today looks entirely different from the expectations of the 1800’s. Can anyone say ‘research’?

Enter my newest, or should I say oldest, favorite cookbook: New System of Domestic Cookery: Founded up Principles of Economy; and Adapted to the Use of Private Families, by Mrs. Maria Eliza Ketelby Rundell (1745-December 16, 1828). ‘Mrs. Rundell’ as it was often referred to, was the most popular English cookbook of the first half of the nineteenth century. The first edition came out in 1806, several later editions were published with additions by other contributors.

At the time, few books on domestic management were available. Mrs. Rundel collected tips and recipes for her three daughters out of her thirty years’ experience running her household in Bath. Initially she planned to have four copies made, but Jane Austen’s publisher got involved and the rest is, as they say, history.

For anyone interested, replica editions have been published and the original itself is available free on line: here or here.

With Mrs. Rundel’s assistance I learned a great deal about both food and domestic concerns in the early 1800’s. Who would have guessed stale white bread was good for cleaning wallpaper?

Just as cleaning methods changed, what foods are served for a meal have changed as well.  A whole host of unfamiliar dishes and meal plans awaited me in the pages so generously penned by Mrs. Rundel.

Her final chapter contains dinner plans for family dinners. For us, dinner consists of three or four dishes, she starts at five and works her way up very quickly, all the way up to two courses of eleven dishes plus removes. (Removes were dishes that were replaced with something else part way through the course). I have to admit, the thought makes my head swim. For a big holiday dinner with all the relatives coming, I might make eight dishes, not including dessert, which I try to have someone else bring. Twenty two to twenty four dishes and you might just need to lock me up in a room with very soft walls!

The contents of Mrs. Rundel’s menus were also very heavy on the meat dishes. For example, a five course meal might include: Half Calf’s Head, grilled, (Remove and replace with Pie or Pudding.)Tongue and Brains, Carrot Soup, Greens round bacon, Saddle of Mutton, and Potatoes and Salad, at side table.  That’s three mean dishes out of the five. Atkins friendly I suppose.

Her most elaborate meal plan, ‘eleven and eleven, and two removes’ just made my head spin. It is hard to imagine how much kitchen staff it would take to accomplish this meal, especially when you take into consideration the lack of refrigeration and other modern conveniences. Notice the mix of dishes too. I would never serve a raspberry tart and lobster and duck all on the same course.

Salmon, (Remove and replace with Brisket of Beef stewed, and high Sauce,) Cauliflower, Fry, Shrimp Sauce, Pigeon Pie, Stewed Cucumbers, Giblet Soup, Stewed Peas and Lettuce, Potatoes, Cutlets Maintenon, Anchovy Sauce, Veal Olives braised, Soles fried. (Remove and replace with Quarter Lamb roasted.)



Young Peas, Coffee Cream, Ramakins, Lobster, Raspberry Tart, Trifle,  Orange Tourt, Grated Beef, Omlet, Roughed Jelly, Ducks.

Mrs. Rundel kindly includes recipes for many, though not all of these dishes. (I cannot for the life of me figure out what ‘Fry’ is.) A few of them are rather interesting.

I am not sure how many of these are going to show up on my dinner table. But I may just try the Stewed Cucumbers one of these days.

Be sure to leave your comment  and visit the rest of our hop participants!

Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will be entered in the giveaway. New follows on the blog, likes on FB and twitter follows will earn extra entries and new newsletter subscriptions will earn a double entry. I have comment moderation turned on, so don’t panic if your comment doesn’t appear right away.

Hop Participants

  1. Random Bits of Fascination (Maria Grace)
  2. Pillings Writing Corner (David Pilling)
  3. Anna Belfrage
  4. Debra Brown
  5. Lauren Gilbert
  6. Gillian Bagwell
  7. Julie K. Rose
  8. Donna Russo Morin
  9. Regina Jeffers
  10. Shauna Roberts
  11. Tinney S. Heath
  12. Grace Elliot
  13. Diane Scott Lewis
  14. Ginger Myrick
  15. Helen Hollick
  16. Heather Domin
  17. Margaret Skea
  18. Yves Fey
  19. JL Oakley
  20. Shannon Winslow
  21. Evangeline Holland
  22. Cora Lee
  23. Laura Purcell
  24. P. O. Dixon
  25. E.M. Powell
  26. Sharon Lathan
  27. Sally Smith O’Rourke
  28. Allison Bruning
  29. Violet Bedford
  30. Sue Millard
  31. Kim Rendfeld


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  1. How much would one person eat?

    1. It really depended. Ladies were cautioned not to overeat, it was indelicate. Typically people would only eat from the half dozen dishes nearest them.

  2. Thank you so much for this terrific giveaway! (Entry #1)

    • parentingauthor on June 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm
    • Reply

    I follow on Facebook as Susan M. Heim. Thank you! (Entry #2)

    • parentingauthor on June 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm
    • Reply

    I follow on Twitter as @ParentingAuthor. (Entry #3)

    • Leslie on June 3, 2013 at 6:18 am
    • Reply

    I wonder what the average weight was for one of these diners? At least they all had corsets!

    1. I think weight was directly related to income really. These were special occasion meals, very special occasion. Food was expensive and most could not afford to overeat.

    • Vesper on June 3, 2013 at 6:24 am
    • Reply

    I wonder how much went to waste as the staff would have probably already have eaten

    1. As I understood, the staff ate after the employers and in order of rank. The upper staff got the best left overs, the lower staff what was left after that. In general food was too expensive to waste, so they tried hard to make sure the left overs got used somehow.

  3. Maria, what was the purpose of the “removes”? I can’t figure out why one wouldn’t just serve all the pieces of each course at once.

    1. The table got too full with all those dishes. To accommodate more than the table would hold some plates would be removed and replaced with other dishes.

  4. I was late aboard for my own contribution to the Banquet Feast – but now I’m here this is great fun! Thoroughly enjoyed this post – and thank you for organising the Banquet Blog Hop!

  5. I have a sudden urge for Lobster, Raspberry Tart, and where is the wine? Fun post!

    • Marsha on June 3, 2013 at 10:32 am
    • Reply

    Quite a menu. I have liked your facebook page. Thank you for the giveaway.

    • Sophia Rose on June 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm
    • Reply

    I hadn’t heard of Mrs. Rundel. Thanks for sharing the source. I’m always fascinated to read through old cookbooks and household management books. Thanks for the giveaway opportunity! Fun idea for a hop!

  6. Stewed cucumber? Nah… I am mainly trying to get my head around the amount of serving dishes required for all this! Nice post!

  7. How interesting! Just imagine preparing all those dishes without all of our modern conveniences too.

    I think that I read somewhere that dishes weren’t necessarily passed around so you sort of ate what was in reach. Is that correct or did I imagine that myself?

  8. wow! What a huge amount of food – I couldn’t imagine. At least people would be pretty much guaranteed to find something to their liking. Except maybe Lady Catherine 😉 lol

    • Lauren on June 3, 2013 at 7:28 pm
    • Reply

    Good point, how did they manage to make all this with no refrigerator? I’ll try the raspberry tart 🙂

  9. I love hops like this where I learn all kinds of cool things–I’m totally going to peruse Mrs. Rundel’s cookbook just as soon as I’m done giving exams this week 🙂

    • cyn209 on June 3, 2013 at 8:30 pm
    • Reply

    getting hungry or nauseous?!?!? LOL!!!

    thank you for the giveaways!!!!

  10. The stewed cucumbers would be delicious, especially if you have a large harvest of them from the garden. I know from experience that Cucumber soup with bacon is excellent and highly recommended. Thank you for the giveaway!
    I tweeted 8:29 PM – 3 Jun 13 and liked on FB followed on Pinterest and signed up for emails.

  11. Thanks for another great resource, Grace! As you know, one who writes long-ago set novels can never have enough places to turn to for answers.

    I am forever boggled by how cooks of the past managed without our modern conveniences. I know I would be lost. After the 1989 earthquake in CA, we were without power for close to a week. Not only did I have no idea how to even begin cleaning without lights or a vacuum, I think we lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for days!

    Great post, and great Blog Hop! I am having a blast, and thrilled to be a part of it.

    1. I understand, Sharon. After hurricane Ike, we were without power 13 days and it was quite an adventure! I’m thrilled to have you part of this hop!

  12. A fascinating post! I cannot imagine trying to tackle a meal like that – either in the kitchen or in the dining room!

  13. I love old “cook books.” My mother kept some from her mother, etc.
    It is great when a person comes across a phrase in the books with which he/she has no concept.

  14. How things have changed. Thanks for such an interesting and informative piece.

    • Lisa on June 5, 2013 at 6:53 pm
    • Reply

    This feast reminds me of some of the meals I recently had at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) where each person would get 7 to 10 different dishes to eat (eg: potato salad, seaweed salad, grilled asparagus, grilled mushrooms, steamed asparagus with mayonnaise, roast salmon, sashimi, rice and almond jelly), but only small serving of each. It still took about an hour and half to finish and you were full at the end.

    • Amy B. on June 7, 2013 at 8:44 am
    • Reply

    This was a fun idea. Thank you for sharing & for the giveaway opportunity.

    • Summer Banquet Blog Hop ~ Orgeat | Sharon Lathan on June 3, 2013 at 2:11 am

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