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|Food at this time
Written by JulieW
(1/13/2004 12:42 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, Fascinating!, penned by Amber D.
was served a la Francasie- that is, dishes of food were put on the table ( at dinner there would be two courses) and diners helped themselves to the food on the serving plates.As shown in this scene from P+P2;-)
Servants did not serve the diners - that came later in the 19th century and was known as service a la Russe.
So for ease of serving, I have always assumed that the food would be already prepared in a way to enable to diners to serve themselves with a minimum of effort.
Roast meats were carved at the table,by both host and hostess. Indeed, it was considered a necessary acomplishment of a gentleman that he was able to do this well, and I have a copy of The Art Of Carving(first published 1788) by the Rev'd Dr John Tursler, and I quote;
Of all the graceful accomplishments, and of every branch of polite education, it has long been admitted, that a gentleman and lady never show themselves to more advantage, than in acquitting themselves well in the honours of the table; that is to say, in serving their quests and treating their friends agreeable to their rank and situation in life....Where there are several dishes at table, the mistress of the house carves that which is before her,and desires her husband , or the person at the bottom of the table, to carve the joint or bird before him.Soup is generally the first thing served, and should be stirred fom the bottom; fish ,if there is any , the next.."
He gives really detailed instructions( with the help of illustrations )as how to carve everything from vension to a calves head. ;-)
When it comes to fish, particularly lobster, this is what he has to say;
There is some art in dressing a lobster, but as this is seldom sent up to the table whole, I will only say , that the tail is reckoned the prime part, and next to this the claws."
So- it was generally cut up( and possibly reassembled so as to look nice)in the kitchen for ease of serving.
So I dont thing poor Jane Bennet would be in any danger of betraying her provincial origins ;-)
Indeed, I think, haivng the mother she did, she ws more than likely used toeating such delicaies as lobster,as Mrs Bennet was certinly profligate when it came to house keeping.I think lobster would have been eaten at Longbourn.
It might interst you to note that I have found a decription of a meal which almost entierly agrees with the menu for the dinner( or at least the second course) portrayed in this scene in P+P2.
The letters of the Rev,John Penrose( in Letters from Bath 1983) describe a meal he and his wife took at Yendacot en route for Bath in 1766..;
The first course was a fine dish of Fish, a rump of beef roasted,Ham and fowls, a fine Sallad(sic), two small plate of Garden Stuff,answering each other and tow Bread Pudins(sic)..The Second Course ..was roasted sweet breads,Lobsters ,Tirfle,2 Plates of Almonds and Raisins, Bakes Pares(sic) and Potted Meat etc.......
I do hope this helps.
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