Tag Archives: Regency
A SUMMER BANQUET: A Regency Picnic
During the summer months, we tend to go for lighter fare, and (whenever possible) to eat outdoors. The picnic was just as popular in England during the Georgian and Regency periods, as illustrated by the picnic at Box HIll in Jane Austen’s EMMA. Using Eliza Smith’s The Compleat HOUSEWIFE cookbook, we can pull together a delightful summer banquet for outdoors. The bills of fare for May, june, July and August provide plenty of ideas.
For the first course, along with a “Grand Sallad”, some “Roasted Losbsters”, “Fruit of all Sorts,” “Gooseberry Tarts”, and “Fish in Jelly” sounds delicious. The second course should include some cold ham and chicken, a dish of “Fish in jelly” and a “Pigeon Pie”. For both courses pickled asparagus and pickled slice cucumbers make tasty garnishes. Removes could include a “Potatoe Pie”, some strawberries or raspberries, and “Morello Cherry Tarts.”
To make a “Pigeon Pie”, you start with a two-crust pastry. After that, Mrs. Smith says “Truss and season your pigeons with savory spice, lard them with bacon, stuff them with forc’d mean, and lay them in the pye with the ingredients for savory pyes, with butter, and close the pie.” (Savory spices include salt and pepper, nutmeg, and mace. Herbs such as thyme, marjoram, parsley, or savory could also be added, with a shallot or onion.) When the pie is done, pour a Lear into the pie. A Lear is a sauce or gravy. Mrs. Smith instructs “Take claret, gravy, oyster-liquor, two or three anchovies, a faggot of sweet-herbs and an onion; boil it up and thicken it with brown butter, then pour it into your savory pyes when called for.” Savory pies such as pigeon pie can be eaten hot or room temperature or cold.
SUMMER BANQUET BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY
Summer is the perfect time to sit outside with a book. I am giving away a signed paperback copy of my book HEYERWOOD: A Novel to a winner in the U.S. or Canada. Just leave a comment for a chance to win (be sure to leave a contact e-mail)! This drawing will close at midnight on Friday, June 7, 2013, and a winner will be announced as quickly as possible. Good luck!
This blog hop will appear from June 3-June 7, 2013. Please visit all of the participating authors for more summer fun!
Random Bits of Fascination (Maria Grace)
Pillings Writing Corner (David Pilling)
Julie K. Rose
Donna Russo Morin
Tinney S. Heath
Diane Scott Lewis
P. O. Dixon
Sally Smith O’Rourke
One of the pleasures of reading history, whether fiction or non-fiction, is learning about the day-to-day living of people in the past. I am particularly interested in the Georgian era in England, especially the Regency period. Recently, I was reading a novel, in which a menu for a particular meal was detailed and “a pupton of cherries” caught my attention. It sounded like some kind of sweet dish, and I wondered what was in it, so I tried to look it up. Not as easy as I expected!
First of all, I could not find a definition of “pupton.” Thanks to the miracle of Google books, I found several old cookbooks on-line. In THE ART OF COOKERY by John Mollard (4th edition published in 1836), I found arecipe for a “Pulpton of Apples” (p. 251) in which quartered apples were stewed until tender, sieved, and mixed with spices, eggs, and breadcrumbs soaked in cream. This concoction was baked in a buttered mould and served turned out on a dish with sifted sugar over it. A recipe for a pulpton of apples also appears in the 1802 edition of Mr. Mollard’s cookbook.
Hannah Glasse, whose popular cookbook THE ART OF COOKERY Made Plain and Easy was first published in 1747, and was released in numerous editions until the last in 1843, includes a recipe for a “pupton” of apples as well. In her version, the fruit was cooked with sugar and only a small amount of water, until the fruit was the consistency of marmalade. She also combined the cooked fruit pulp with eggs, spices, cream and breadcrumbs, with some butter, baked it and served it on a plate.
Title Page from Hannah Glasse’s Cookbook
Both of these recipes sounded good to me, and I could see how this recipe could be adapted to almost any kind of fruit, including cherries. However, this was not the end of the pupton! Looking over the tables of contents, I found recipes for savory puptons as well. These sound remarkably like pate’s and terrines served today, as at least a portion of the fish, meat or poultry component is cut finely with equal portions of suet, then pounded into a paste, called forcemeat. If used alone, the paste would be seasoned, then it could be rolled into balls and poached in a sauce or fried; it could be put into a bag of some kind (one recipe I found took a chicken, removed all the meat, made the paste, seasoned it, and put it back in the chicken skin) and stewed, or baked. A fascinating recipe I found in THE LONDON ART OF COOKERY And Housekeepers Complete Assistant by John Farley (4th edition, published in 1787) included a “French Pupton of Pigeons” on page 127. This recipe took a quantity of forcemeat, made a very thin layer (similar to a pie crust), and then proceeded to layer thin bacon, squabs, asparagus, mushrooms and several other ingredients (a few of which may seem odd in combination today, including cocks’ combs). This was then topped with another thin layer of forcemeat, like a pie, and baked. When done, it was to be served in a dish with gravy poured around it.
Either sweet or savory, the pupton sounds like a wonderful and tasty dish! I love this kind of detail, as it makes the people of the past come alive. Food is something we all have in common.
York Minster by John Hunter 1784
For several months, I have been researching for and working on another historical novel. The setting is in York, England, duirngthe last years of the Georgian era. Such a fascinating city with a wonderful history! The research has been challenging and enjoyable-at times, I find myself getting caught up in pursuing the reading and neglecting the writing. However, progress has been made!
The heroine is Anne Emmons, a young woman of respectable birth. There is wealth, accumulated in trade. The novel looks at friendship, the contrasts between the formal, stratified world of London society and the more flexible society of York, and the possibility of finding happiness on one’s own terms. Meanwhile, her father was concerned…. I thought I would introduce a few bits and pieces as I work. Here is the first bit:
He had hoped Anne would settle long before now. At twenty-five years of age, she had long participated in the social seasons at home in York, and in London. There was no doubt that Sir Henry and his wife had done their best by Anne, put her in the way of meeting eligible young men, even arranging for her presentation. Somehow, Anne had just never “taken.” Even at home in York, acting as his hostess, she had entertained numerous young men, ranging from young fashionables in town for the races to successful young merchants and bankers. She showed the poise of an older, more experienced hostess, yet never indicated the slightest tendre for any of them. “Not a one of ’em stirred so much as a flutter, ” he thought gloomily, “and for all the notice she paid, none had the least inclination to pursue it.” Well, he was going to have to take a hand, as distasteful as he found it.
I hope you will let me know what you think of this little segment!
Emily Lamb, Lady Cowper, was famous for her wit, charm and tact, and exercised great social power, not only as one of the Lady Patronesses of Almack’s, but in her later life as Lady Palmerston, wife of the Prime Minister. It is important to look at her family life to see how she evolved to her subsequent status.
Emily was born April 21, 1787 to Elizabeth, Lady Melbourne (born Milbanke) who was the wife of Peniston Lamb, Viscount Melbourne. Lady Melbourne was a woman who was part of the “Devonshire House set”, a famous hostess, and a highly powerful society figure. Lady Melbourne was noted for her ambition, her discretion, and her influence. Although the first child born of the marriage, a son, was undoubtedly that of her husband, Lady Melbourne had many affairs, including one with George, then the Prince of Wales, and the paternity of her other children (including Emily) was not clear. The Earl of Egremont was a possible candidate as Emily’s natural father. Although her affairs were not secrets, she conducted them with great tact, dignity and discretion; there is no indication of any scandal, and no record of any objection by Lord Melbourne. Elizabeth was also a loyal friend (if not a loyal wife). Emily was raised in a highly social and political circle and would have had the opportunity to learn her social skills from hostesses at the highest level of society, including her mother and Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire. Her formal education was acquired from governesses. Emily was the fifth of six children, including her brother William (who married Caroline Lamb, and became a Prime Minister).
In 1805, at age 18, Emily was married to Peter Leopold Louis Francis Nassau Cowper, 5th Earl Cowper. Nine years older than Emily, Earl Cowper was the largest landowner in Hertfordshire, and invested as a Fellow in the Royal Society. He was also considered lacking in ambition, dull and slow of speech. Earl Cowper was also apparently uninterested in politics. He worked with Henry Repton on the building of a house on one of his estates during this period, and they had a son, George, in 1806. Emily threw herself into her social career, becoming a leading figure and one of the patronesses of Almack’s and, subsequently, a regular member of the court of George IV. She had a reputation for being the most popular of the lady patronesses, and was noted for her tact, apparently skilled at smoothing over the social conflicts and quarrels that sprang up in her social milieu. Four other children were born during the marriage, whose paternities are not clear. Like her mother, there was no scandal; apparently, her husband also raised no objection.
At Almack’s, Emily was seen more and more frequently in company with Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston (who was noted for his own romantic adventures). Lord Palmerston appeared regularly at Lady Cowper’s social functions. The nature of their relationship during this time was and is subject to a great deal of speculation; at the very least, they were good friends. (At most, they were intimate – Emily’s son William born in 1811 was considered very like Lord Palmerston, and ultimately bore the last name Cowper-Temple.) Her social career, however (as previously mentioned), was not blighted by open scandal, so we can assume that Emily learned not only deportment but discreet behavior from her mother.
Upon the death in 1818 of her mother, Lady Melbourne, Emily became increasingly involved in assisting her brothers with their affairs, communicating regularly with her brother Frederick (a diplomat) and attempting to guide her brother William through his marriage and career crises. William had fallen in love with and become engaged to Caroline Ponsonby (daughter of Henrietta who was the Duchess of Devonshire’s sister, and another member of the “Devonshire House Set”), and married her June 3, 1805. As a result, Caroline became the Caroline Lamb, subsequently famous for her affair with Byron, wild behavior, and uncontrolled emotions. The young couple lived with Lord and Lady Melbourne, which was a far from satisfactory arrangement for all. Emily had little use or sympathy for Caroline, all of her sympathies being with William. In 1816, Caroline published a novel GLENARVON anonymously. In this novel, Caroline portrayed herself as an abused heroine, and other members of society (including her husband and mother-in-law, and Byron) in extremely bad light. This tested William’s loyalty to the maximum, and almost resulted in a separation. After Lady Melbourne’s death, Emily tried to protect William from Caroline’s emotional upheaval. Caroline ultimately died January 26, 1828. Emily was convinced that William was relieved (although he never remarried).
Between her social duties, and family responsibilities, Emily was very busy during this period. When the Prince of Wales became King George IV in January of 1820, Emily was still active as lady patroness of Almack’s and a popular member of society. She became a prominent figure at court and, by the late 1820’s, she was also a prominent political hostess for the Whigs, the party espoused by her friend Lord Palmerston and her brother William. As William’s political career began to advance (he was Home Secretary in 1830, and Prime Minister in 1834), Emily acted as his hostess.