Rus Articles Journal

As received guests at the time of Jane Austen. Menu and customs. Part 2

the Beginning

Today we had again a chance to feel heroines of classical English novels. Authors of “The recipe-book of Jane Austen“ not only in detail studied way of that time according to diaries and letters of acquaintances and relatives of the writer, but also collected the present recipes, having adapted them to modern conditions.

First change of dishes, second change...

the Main distinction between meals at the time of Jane Austen and was today that and in what order it was put on a table. Nowadays at restaurant the concept “lunch from two changes“ includes hot (usually meat dish) which the sweet pudding or a dessert follows;“ the lunch from three changes“ means soup or other light meal which follows hot or a dessert. We got used what hot we are given with vegetables and sauces that the food moves already cut or spread out a la carte and that the waiter brings dishes in a certain order. However our ancestors living during the georgiansky period, entering the dining room, saw before themselves the table filled with the most different dishes: there were soups, fish, meat, a game, a bird, pies, vegetables, sauces, a pickles, sweet and unsweetened puddings, sweet creams and jelly, - from five to twenty five dishes, depending on solemnity of an event. They were placed symmetrically around the central dish, and all of them together also were called change - that is only part of a ceremonial lunch.

Having taken seat at a table, the owner watched that all poured first course - soup (most often chicken with spices or turtle) - and with own hand cut meat (a saddle of a lamb, beef fillet or venison) which was brought after the tureen went back to kitchen. Practically always on one end of a table there was a salmon, and on the friend - turbot, with smelts in the form of addition. After the owner cut meat, each gentleman imposed to himself an entertainment from the dishes facing it and offered the neighbor; if the dish stood on other end of a table, behind it sent the servant. It was not obligatory for guests to try all dishes; a wide choice was provided in order that everyone could choose something to himself to taste. To a table wine, beer, ale and soda were served, besides, to please tastes of each of guests. Some gentlemen preferred to wash down an entertainment with port, Sherry and a rhine wine as they a claret and even Burgundian were too weak and watery. After soup was poured on plates, it was accepted to drink for health of the neighbor, around: the lady and gentlemen serially lifted shot glasses for health of each other.


After guests managed to enjoy adequately the first change of dishes, to them offered an intermediate dessert with cheeses, salad, a crude celery and to that similar, then cleared the table and gave one more set, but already other dishes - again both sweet, and salty - the second change . When guests were full with the second change, again cleared the table, removed a cloth - under it usually was or one more, or just polished table-top - and covered sweet. On sweet gave nuts and fruit, fresh or tinned depending on a season, cakes and ice cream, usually accompanied by port or Madeira and sweet wines for ladies. The children sent upward prior to the beginning of a lunch came back to a drawing room, still in the best dresses, and received till a portion of a dessert together with the touched delights and kisses of guests, and then went to a bed.

guests sat At a dessert about a quarter of hour then ladies left the dining room and settled in a drawing room. There they talked, embroidered or thumbed through the illustrated books within about an hour while gentlemen were treated with alcohol and indulged in brisk discussions, and then joined ladies. At the beginning of a georgiansky era of the man preferred to sit longer behind a wine bottle though in the eighteenth century was considered quite admissible that some of them on own initiative left the men`s company and went to a drawing room. The next several hours were devoted to the entertainments corresponding to weather and a season; at last, in a drawing room once again gave the tea with light meals finishing reception if it was not planned to play cards late.

the Hostess of the house could be proud of deservedly successful reception; similar events caused a keen interest in guests and neighbors. In letters, memoirs and diaries of that period ceremonial lunches at which there were their authors often are in detail described; on them it is possible to judge customs and vital way of average and aristocratic classes of georgiansky society to what it was known by Jane Austen. In July, 1779 Ms. Catherine Hutton had dinner with blessed Mr. Shattluort, the prior of astonsky arrival in Derbyshire, and so described this lunch in the letter to the father to Birmingham:

“At a table mudflows at three o`clock; from one edge there was a salmon with dill sauce, the kindled oil, marinated lemons and soybeans; from another fried beef, black beans - or perhaps still what - and in the center pigeons pie and an egg yolk. Beans were followed by ham and chickens, and then cleared the table and served currant cake. Mr. Shattluort was very lovely and friendly; cared for the guests, transferred dishes which they wanted, and without any ceremonies. It such nice and sensitive - the best gentleman from all whom I had to meet. After a lunch to us suggested to wash up hands [that is gave bowls for hands] and when removed a cloth, on a table put a gooseberry, currant and a melon, with wines and cider.

Three days later Ms. Hutton had again dinner with mother on a visit, and this time to a table served “three boiled chickens with one edge, magnificent venison from another, still ham, a flour pudding and beans. When removed a cloth, on a table put a gooseberry and a dish with wonderful apricots. Ms. Grivz and Ms. Butbi worked on the laces and an embroidery, and I watched them because I did not take with myself any work...“

Lunches for the high-ranking guests differed in much bigger scope; the old friend of a family Austen, Mrs. Filip Libb Pauis with pride listed in the diary some of dishes, she as the hostess of the house on reception at to which the single brother, the bishop Kenterberiysky, treated Gloucester prince William, the nephew George III when that visited Kent in the summer of 1798. On Saturday, August 25, stay total number fourteen people mudflows at a table on which stood:

By the end 1820 - x the of tradition concerning meal began to change gradually; from georgiansky custom of “changes“ British began to pass to the giving of dishes in a certain order accepted and today. After fight at Waterloo in 1815. the prolonged war which put an end, from - behind which British had no opportunity to travel all over the world, trips abroad became possible again and wealthy tourists began to ply with one on other coast La - Mansha. They immediately found out that in Europe dinners are served à la Russe (“in Russian“) - that is cut in advance a dish, and then enclose with an entertainment of all sitting at a table. On homecoming, “the most distinguished of all who visited abroad“ entered into use this new and certainly more convenient way of giving. As well as any innovations, to the above described tradition liked some time for getting accustomed in England, however giving à la Russe became a norm during the English ceremonial lunches to 1870 - m and remains to this day.

the Sufficient set of products for so various meals was a constant headache of hostesses of the house from whom the considerable ingenuity and ability to long-term planning was required. At the time of Jane Austen, without modern methods of a freezing, hothouse technologies and the high-speed message, the lion`s share of a diet of a family was grown up on own earth therefore products were or is fresher, or, on the contrary, it is worse modern - depending on local conditions. For example, inhabitants of coastal regions ate sea fish very fresh, however when transporting it quickly spoiled, especially in warm weather, and was almost inedible when reached the destination; to make it more - less suitable for the use some hot sauce was required. Mary Russell Mitford (1787 - 1855) rural life in the south of England under the name “Our Village“ mentions the wandering dealer who in summer months drove about in the rumbling cart full of wattled baskets, across Hampshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire in the notes; from Hampshire it carried crabs, shrimps, oysters of different grades, a flounder and a herring, and took away nuts, apples and cherry.

Fresh pork could regale on

only in a cold season, from September to March; after a face hulk should have been processed immediately, that is to salt or smoke meat that from it ham and bacon which are long stored turned out and maintain summer temperatures. Beef and mutton were served to a table all the year round; rural squires could hammer cattle from own farms as required. Presently we seldom eat mutton, preferring to slaughter young lambs. Rabbits and pigeons all who will wish, but a game - deer, hares could shoot, partridges and pheasants - were a private property of the owner of land so only he could hunt it or his friends, with his permission. A great kindness was considered to send to rather poor neighbors who were not owning hunting grounds, a half of a deer or dozen of partridges.

Practically each hostess had hen house from where on a family table eggs and meat - turkey-cocks, ducks, geese, hens, guinea fowls and sometimes domestic pheasants arrived. Also many families held the cows who were an uninterrupted source of milk, cream, oils, cottage cheese, cheese, buttermilk and fermented milk products. On kitchen gardens root crops and other vegetables, and also berries grew, under protection of walls planted grapes and fruit trees - cherry, a mulberry, apple-trees, pears, plums, bullaces, apricots, peaches and nectarines. Near orchards put beehives that bees pollinated trees and gave honey. Skillful gardeners, as, for example, blessed Gilbert Whyte (1720 - 1793), the author of Natural history Selborna , the village located near the house Ostinov in Choutena arranged greenhouses where, despite whimsical English weather, grew up melons and cucumbers. Wealthy gentlemen usually had greenhouses where exotic pineapples grew, and melons, cucumbers, grapes and peaches kept up quicker and depended on natural cataclysms less. Rare fruit were considered as a precious gift - they could be sent to the neighbor in exchange for the venison and a game sent those; quite so fans of hunting and gardening exchanged among themselves.

Nevertheless as all gardeners know well, vegetables and fruit are stored fresh quite short time and grow ripe in large numbers at once. For lack of a freezing housewives carried out the most part of summer, being engaged in preparation of fruit and vegetables: salted, pickled, dried, preserved, candied, cooked jam, did cheese and a domestic wine, that is tried in any ways to keep the products arriving from kitchen gardens and dairy farms. In estates special rooms for storage of apples, pears, cheeses and meat in different types were allocated. Threatened to be left in the winter that who did not pay due attention to summer preparations without above-mentioned viands as there was no place to get them.

to the City housewives who did not have an opportunity to keep a cow and a fowls and to cultivate a kitchen garden, it was necessary to address services of shopkeepers and suppliers; they had an opportunity to quickly receive necessary products, but their quality was far lower - dealers impudently diluted milk and baked bread from low-quality flour. Import goods - tea, coffee, chocolate, sugar, rice, dried currant, oranges, lemons and spices - was necessary to buy by everything; usually they were got in small amounts in benches or wholesale, from suppliers.

From the book “Recipe-book of Jane Austen“