Saturday, March 23, 2013

Everyday meal in a Regency era English country home

"The Dinner Table" by Henri Matisse
I love to read descriptions of meals in novels, and knowing that Georgette Heyer would have researched it well, I have no reason to doubt that the meal described below, in a scene from The Reluctant Widow, is a genuine example of fare one could have expected to find on the dinner table of an English country house during the Regency era.
What I marvel at is the size of the meal and the number of dishes in what is, despite there being a guest at the table, an everyday meal.

"He partook lavishly of every dish and was so much moved by the excellence of the Davenport fowls, stuffed, parboiled, and stewed in butter, that he sent a complimentary message to the cook and congratulated Carlyon on having acquired such a treasure. By the time he had worked his way from the Hessian soup and ragout which began the repast through a baked carp dressed in the Portuguese way, some beefsteaks with oyster sauce, the fowls, and a floating island, with a fruit pie as a remove, he was so far reconciled to his nephew’s death as to be able to recount three of the latest good stories circulating town and to confide to Carlyon as he ecstatically savored the bouquet of the port, that he really could not agree with his old friend Brummell in deeming it a wine only fit for the lower orders to drink."