Serving an historic meal

by Sydney Tucker

I’m continuing my Summer internship this Fall with Small Planet Pictures working on a historical documentary to ensure the sets are as historically accurate as possible. In preparation for  reenacting two English governor’s dinner parties, I researched the specifics of place settings and menus. One of the governors, Grant, had a French chef; the other governor, Tinbull, was Irish. Thus, I had to research what foods would be served at a formal French dinner party and formal Irish dinner party in the 19th century.

Here are my findings:


  • 21 plates
    • Four courses
  • Spicy, boiled meats
  • Overabundance of food
  • First course: Soups and stews, boiled fish and meats (arranged around center of table)
  • Second course: “mock boar’s head made of sponge cake”
  • Elaborate desserts – gardens and architecture structure, fresh and sugared fruits, sweetmeats, jams, jellies, and creams
  • Tea and coffee service
  • First dish- fish or boiled meat, potatoes (plain, boiled and mashed), and sauces proper with fish and meat
  • After would come the roast with a variety of seasonable vegetables, small dishes of fried or stewed meat or poultry, and oyster and meat pie or chicken-salad and currie, sweetbreads ad ragout


  • Dinner
    • Divieed dinner of two courses
      • Sweet and Savory
    • Dished arranged in geometric patterns
    • Set out on the table at one time
    • Fourteen dishes over two courses
  • Supper
    • Leftovers from dinner, served cold
    • Jellied calf’s head, ham, dried beef served grated or cut into slivers, boneded,stuffed, rolled and pickled beef, mutton, pig, veal, pork, potted beef, lamprey,trouts
    • Chocolate, mulled wine, cakes, sweetmeats, comfits, cold partige, chicken, lamb, hame, tongue
  • Milk
  • Beef was eaten especially in winter
  • Beef was the primary meat (54%)
  • Pigs was the secondary meat (36%)
  • Venison and mutton were also common
  • Blood pudding
  • Bread was not eaten large quantities
  • Oats and barley cereal
  • Breads were made from seeds
  • Porridge
  • Sheep’s milk cheese
  • Eggs were consumed in large quantities
    • Ducks and sea-birds
  • Salmon
    • Legend saying consumption of the fish will bestow health, long-life
    • Fish prepared in a pot with vegetables, seaweed and herbs and wisdom
  • Large amounts of shellfish consumed
  • Onions, Leeks, Sorrel, Nettles, Watercress, carrots, parsnips, peas, beans, cabbage, kale
  • Sole, Wild cherry, raspberry, blackberry, strawberry, rowan, whortleberries, crabapples, elderberries, apples

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