Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

A long while ago I wrote a series on Victorian cooking (here, here, here, and here). Many people asked about specific Victorian recipes or dishes, either for a Victorian dinner-party or to bring a fun snack to school for presentations and such.
In the nineteenth century, cooking wasn’t really a hobby, it was either a necessity or just something you hired a cook for. Furthermore, there were no real recipe books, though at the end of the century some books with suggestions came into fashion, mostly in America. It wasn’t very commom for novels to explain what food was eaten, and food wasn’t really a topic of discussion as it is now. Therefore, it’s pretty hard to find actual recipes or dishes from the nineteenth century. I finally found a very good resource in the Annotated Emma by David M. Shapard ( who got them from E. Raffald, The Experienced English Housekeeper). I will repost them here.

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This dish consists of: Transparent soup (some sort of broth?), Fricas’d chicken, Harrico (green beans), Pigeons Comport, Codsounds like little Turkies, Lambs Ears Forc’d, Fricando Veal, Pork Griskins, French Pye, Brocoli &c., Kidney Beans, Small Ham, Mock Turtle, Boil’d Turkey, Sallad, Bottl’d Peas, Sweet Breads Ala Royal, House Lamb, Sheep Rumps & Kidneys in Rice, Ox Pallets, Larded Oysters, Ducks Alamode, Beef Olives, Florendine of Rabbits, Hare Soup.

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This second course consists of: Pheasant, Moonshine, Crawfish in Savoryjelly (sic), Snow balls, Globes of Gold Web with Mottoes in Them, Marbl’d Veal, Mince Pies, Pickled Smelts, Fish Pond, Pompadore Cream, Stew’d Cardoons, Pea Chick with Asparagus, Transparent pudding cover’d with a Silver Web, Roast Woodcocks, Stew’d Mushroomd, Macaroni, Floating Island, Potted Lampreys, Crocrant with Hot Peppers, Collar’d Pig, Pistacha Cream (pistachio something?), Burnt Cream (maybe a creme brulée?), Snipes in Savory Jelly, Rocky Island, Roasted Hare.
Wel… are you hungry? They definitely knew how to eat, then! Some of these dishes are fairly straightforward but some of them are very puzzling. If you know what they mean or feel like googling for them, please let us know what you found in the comments! I’m especially curious about “Globes of Gold Web with Mottoes in Them”.

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Coffee appeared in Europe for the first time in the 17th century. Not long after, the example of the Ottoman Empire was followed, and coffee houses were build. The drink and new establishements soon became immensely popular.
The first coffee houses appeared in Venice, due to the trade of this city with the Ottoman Empire. The first coffee house in England was set up in Oxford in 1650 by a man named Jacob, and the first coffeehouse in London was opened in 1652. By the middle of Queen Anne’s reign the number of Coffee Houses in London and Westminster had grown to several hundreds, some imaginative estimates putting the figure at 2,000.

The coffeehouse was not just popular because you could drink coffee there, but also for the many lively debates that were held. Many media historians see the coffeehouse as an important aspect in news and information exchange during the 19th century. It is even said that the idea of the Encyclopedie originated from coffeehouse conversation. It was a place of information exchange, where many pamphlets and international newspapers were available and where you could share your opinion.
Governments weren’t always very happy with this free exchange of ideas: Charles II of England tried to suppress coffeehouses as “places where the disaffected met, and spread scandalous reports concerning the conduct of His Majesty and his Ministers.” Apart from conversation, a lot of business was done in the coffeehouse (in fact, the world-famous Lloyd’s insurance company of today has its roots in early transactions conducted in Lloyd’s coffee house in London,) as well as gambling. Newspapers were read aloud, and discussed afterwards.

At first coffeehouses were social levellers, open to men of any social status. In the mid-18th century the club (There’s a little on clubs in this comment) became more popular for the aristocratic clientele, and afterwards the coffeehouse was frequented more by workers and lowerclass men.

Women, however, were never allowed in coffeehouses because they were supposed to stay at home. The only exception to this rule was the “limonadière”, the lady cashier behind the counter, whose outward appearance could contribute significantly to the popularity of a coffee house. Being an explicitly ‘male’ location, and in view of the double standards by which the middle classes lived, the coffee house had also established itself, even from an early stage, as a place of prostitution. Coffee houses did not open their doors to the female public until the second half of the 19th century. (from here)

Sources & further reading:

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In 1841 the first Christmas tree was introduced to the royal family by Prince Albert, German husband of Queen Victoria. In 1850 a tinted etching of a decorated tree at Windsor Castle was published and the Tannenbaum became a necessity for every fashionable Victorian home. It was a tradition quickly embraced by Victorian England. Live trees were set up for the Christmas season decorated with lighted candles, draped with tinsel, ribbon, paper chains, cookies and candies.
Although the Victorian idea of Christmas was not commercial, having more to do with food, and the exchange of handmade gifts, New York soon saw the commercial advantages of a holiday full of the exchange of gifts. By the 1880’s Macy’s department store’s windows were filled with wonderful dolls and toys from Germany, France, Austria, and Switzerland. Another window boasted scenes with steam driven moveable parts.

With the growing popularity of Christmas trees manufacturers began producing ornaments around 1870. Also popular were molded wax figures of angels and children. Many ornaments were made of cotton-wool wrapped around an armature of metal or wood and trimmed with embossed paper faces, buttons, gold paper wings and “diamond dust”, actually powdered glass.
‘After the Civil War, in the 1880’s and 1890’s, Christmas started to become commercialized through the growth of department stores and illustrated magazines,
Source & more info

Tips to decorate a Christmas tree in Victorian style.

New York Times article on shops that get their inspiration from Victorian times.

Some tips on decorating in authentic Victorian style.

To read about an actual Victorian Christmas party, I would suggest the book Little Women by Louisa Alcott, which shows a typical Christmas party. You can read it online here

And some more Victorian recipes: (I’m sure there are even more out there)



This post is part of a series on cooking! Follow the links to see the other posts:
Upperclass dinner
Victorian cooking
Victorian kitchens
Links to recipes & etiquette

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Today some random bits ‘n bobs that didn’t fit into the other posts.

Food preservation
Before the Victorian Era, food preservation techniques such as salting, pickling, drying, and smoking had changed little. The theory of canning was first developed in the 18th century with “dried soups” that were made by reducing stocks to a “glue” that could be reconstituted when needed, but they never attained much popularity outside the navy. However, by the 1880s, largely in response to Pasteur’s theories about disease and putrefaction, scientists experimented with chemicals to kill germs and bacteria in food. These early attempts often proved fatal to those who ate the “preserved” food, but legislation to control the use of chemicals for preserving food was not developed until 1901. The first tin cans in which preserved foods were packaged came with the simple instruction, “Cut around the top outer edge with a chisel and hammer.”

The next is taken from this livejournal post, there’s also a few recipes.

Hints for Gentlewoman at Table.
A Gentlewoman being at table abroad or at home must observe to keep her Body straight, and lean not by any means with her Elbows, or by ravenous Gesture discover a voracious appetite; talk not when you have Meat in your Mouth; do not smack like a Pig nor venture to eat spoonmeat so hot that the Tears stand in your Eyes, which his as unseemly as the Gentlewoman who pretended to have as little Stomach as she had Mouth, and therefore would not swallow her Peas by Spoonful, but took them one by one and cut them in two before she would eat them. It is very uncomely to drink so large a Draught that your Breath is almost gone, and are forced to blow strongly to recover yourself, throwing down your Liquor as into a Funnel is an Action fitter for a Juggler than a Gentlewoman. In carving at your own Table distribute the best Pieces first, and it will appear very comely and decent to use a Fork, so touch no piece of Meat without it.

To Extinguish Fire in the Female Dresses
So many fatal Accidents arise from light Dresses catching Fire no Manual for Females is complete without the following cautions.

1st. Let every Female mind be impressed that Flame tends always upward: that she will burn more rapidly if upright than if laid on the Floor.

2nd. Give instant alarm by screaming or pulling the Bell, (which is usually near the fire-place), but if possible avoid opening the door.

3rd. The Alarm should be given while the Female is rolling in the rug, tearing off the burnt clothes, or turning her clothes over her head.

4th. A Man may quickly strip off his coat and wrap it around a Female.

5th. If the Victim cannot save herself entire, let her protect her bosom and the face by crossing her hands and arms over these parts.

6th. A Piece of green or scarlet-baize called a Fire-extinguisher should be in universal Use in Sitting-Rooms and Nurseries, and its Name and use known, although it serve as a Table or Piano-forte Cover.

7th. Let the injured Person have cold Water plentifully pored over them if they cannot be immersed in water till Medical Advice is obtained.

More Victorian recipes

And even more recipes

This post is part of a series on cooking! Follow the links to see the other posts:
A Victorian Christmas
Upperclass dinner
Victorian kitchens
Links to recipes & etiquette

Read Full Post »

      Around 1800 the first stove that was made to cook on was developed by Benjamin Thompson, it was called the Rumford Stove. (Up to 1800, stoves were mostly used for heating, not for cooking.) One fire was used to heat several pots, which hung in the fire through various holes on top of the stove. This stove however was too large for domestic use.
     In 1834 the Oberlin Stove was patented in the US, it was the same technique but made smaller for domestic use. In the following 30 years 90,000 units were sold. During this time, the stoves still worked on wood or coal; while gas was available but it wasn’t used until late in the 19th century.
     Towards the end of the 19th century, more and more houses got water and sewer pipes, and also gas pipes (used for light.) These pipes were later used to provide gas for the first gas stoves (around 1880.)
     In 1893 the first electrical stove was presented in Chicago, but only in 1930 these stoves were advanced enough to be sold for domestic use.
     Because the small houses of the working closses, the kitchen was often used for living and sleeping, and also as a bathing room. (No wonder: due to the stove that was almost constantly on, this room was probably the warmest place in the house!) While pots and kitchenware was usually stored on open shelves in the kitchen, curtains were used to seperate them from the rest of the room.
     Upperclass kitchens were of course the territory of servants only. Gradually, these houses got water pumps, sinks, drains, and sometimes even water on tap. With the closed stoves the kitchen became a cleaner place, because the fire was more restricted.

     During the 19th century, new kitchen appliances were invented and patented, for example the cork-shaper (to shape corks to fit into different bottles,) the can-opener and the corkshrew

victorian kitchens & cooking

victorian kitchens & cooking

An exhibition of kitchen wares.

This post is part of a series on cooking! Follow the links to see the other posts:
A Victorian Christmas
Upperclass dinner
Victorian cooking
Links to recipes & etiquette

Read Full Post »