Feasting Afloat The Edwardian Dinner Table


Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Okay, for those familier with the gastronomical delights served up during the Edwardian era, I noticed that the menus for sterrage oftem offered something called "Gruel" I'll probably regret asking, but what exactly is "gruel"???

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Oh Michael- Do you really want to know! Standard fare for invalids, and the poor of Dickens' Victorian slums- it is a thin and watery sort of porridge. There are even special spouted gruel boats (in museums), shaped to trickled the nasty stuff down sickly throats. Usually some sort of farina, semmolina, cornflower, or similar grain product is thinned with water or milk, stirred to a slippery wallpaper paste consistency, and heated up. Probably it was just the thing for seasick matrons. All of this lovely trivia I have learned from Agatha Christie!
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Forgot to mention this gruel business is a British import- hard to believe those lovely folks who brought us treacle toffee, crumpets, Seville orange marmalade, Earl Grey, Devonshire cream teas AND the cucumber sandwich could devise such an ugh-some potage!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Eeeeeewwwwwwwwww!!!!!!!!!! I think I'll go with the coffee, Earl Grey tea, crumpets, marmalade, etc. Somehow, gruel for dinner makes being executed by slow torture look like a pleasant way to spend an afternoon!

Thanks for the info.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Robert M. Himmelsbach

Guest
Note to Michael & Shelley: At that time it was pretty common for the Lower Classes, many Middle, and not but a few upper class types, especially at British Boys Boarding Schools, to routinely serve gruel as a children's food. It was believed that mild (bland) and watered down foods, reasonably nutritious and high in fiber, would prevent interest in sex and/or masturbation! Hence the Graham Cracker, invented for that very purpose.
The late 19th/early 20th Centuries were positively bonkers on preserving "purity" and firmly believed that nutrition played a key role.
At the same time, they themselves were, of course, noshing on oysters and spicy foods to increase their own ...well, you get the idea!
 

Kris Muhvic

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Sep 26, 2008
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Graham Crackers?!...OK- now I'm a little confused. For some reason I was thinking of Mr. Kellog inventing "Corn Flakes" for the supression of the appetite... of a less than gastronomic nature! Again, could be wrong.
One thing I do want to mention, thinking of Randy's "egg" link (thank you!); is that I found yet Another variation of a souffle recipe. One must keep in consideration Geography/regional influences when it comes to food cultivation and preparation. Today we are so used to everything from all over, it's a little difficult to think of a time when what you were eating in your own town would probably be quite different in the neighboring town, let alone miles or countries away.
When it comes to food, it is apparent that the world is indeed shrinking!

Take care~
Kris
 

Kyrila Scully

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Apr 15, 2001
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Actually, Kris, it was Doctor Kellogg, and he didn't invent the cornflakes for that purpose, but was asked to create the breakfast cereal by the leadership of his church (Seventh-Day Adventists) for the purpose of adding fiber to the diet of poor people who were suffering from diseases created by poor diet. It was also beneficial to traveling evangelists who could carry it on train trips and wagon trips, as one of the first convenience food. Dr. Kellogg operated a famous sanitarium in Battle Creek, Michigan, and was later expelled from the church for adopting a spurious doctrine and trying to take over the leadership of the church. The Post family were also prominent in the SDA Church, as is the McKee family of "Little Debbies" fame. The church was and still is very active in promoting nutritional health as a preventive to disease, although they no longer promote vegetarianism entirely.

Oops! Sorry for rambling.
Kyrila
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Sylvester Graham (1795-1851) invented the famous cracker which was an offshot of his Graham bread actually. Graham flour is coarsely ground wheat flour, the germ being left intact, and is the joy of most health food -vegetarian types still. Sylvester was a farm hand, clerk, and teacher until ill health sent him to pursue a less rigorous career- a Presbyterian minister. Born in West Suffield Connecticut, his active preaching years were spent in New Jersey where he incorporated his ideals of cold showers, hard mattresses, vegan diet, whole grains, daily toothbrushing, chastity, open window sleeping, and pure water into his preaching. His views made him very unpopular with butchers and bakers, and he often needed police protection from the same as he made his way about town. Needless to say, his views on procreation were..uh.. somewhat unexciting-thus the connection between Graham's crackers and abstinence. There was a film in the 1990's called JOURNEY TO WELLVILLE which details the cornflake kings' rise to celebrity. It is rather a "saucy" film as I found out much to my embarrassment! Blush. Lest you feel virtuous eating your Graham Crackers today, the storebought kind are made with refined white flour! Drat those Keebler elves- saucy, prolific little imps themselves.
 
May 12, 2005
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A cousin of Laura Francatelli Haering was the famous royal chef Charles Elme Francatelli. Here is his recipe for goose:

BAKED GOOSE

From "A Plain Cookery Book for the Working Classes," by Charles Elme Francatelli, late maitre d'hotel and chief cook to H.M. Queen Victoria.

No. 26, Baked Goose

Pluck and pick out all the stubble feathers thoroughly clean, draw the goose, cut off the head and neck, and also the feet and wings, which must be scalded to enable you to remove the pinion feathers from the wings and the rough skin from the feet; split and scrape the inside of the gizzard, and carefully cut out the gall from the liver. These giblets well stewed, as shown in No. 62, will serve to make a pie for another day's dinner.

Next stuff the goose in the following manner, viz.:-First put six potatoes to bake in the oven, or even in a Dutch oven; and while they are being baked, chop six onions with four apples and twelve sage leaves, and fry these in a saucepan with two ounces of butter, pepper and salt; and, when the whole is slightly fried, mix it with the pulp from out of the inside of the six baked potatoes, and use this very nice stuffing to fill the inside of the goose.

The goose being stuffed, place it upon an iron trivet in a baking dish containing peeled potatoes and a few apples; add half-a-pint of water, pepper and salt, shake some flour over the goose, and bake it for about an hour and a-half.
 

Kyrila Scully

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Two ounces of butter!!! Sounds a bit much in our current cholesterol-soaked society. The potato stuffing sounds good, I'll have to try it; but as a vegetarian, I'll pass on the goose.

Kyrila
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

Guest
Not really all that much. It's two tablespoons of butter-- two pats, if you like-- and would be just about enough to fry six onions and four apples, with no excess of grease.

Pat W
 
May 12, 2005
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Here is the comparatively modest menu for an Admiralty dinner party given 24 July 1912:

Melon Glace

Consomme de Volaille Froid
Potage Bisque

Truite Saumonee Norvegienne
Blanchailles

Souffle de Cailles au riz

Boeuf Flamande a la Gelee

Jambon de Prague

Dindoneaux Froids
Salade

Glace d'Ananas
Peches Bonne Femme
 
May 12, 2005
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The menu for a dinner at Hever Castle in Kent, hosted by William Waldorf Astor on 10 July 1909:

Melon Glace

Consomme Princesse

Bisque d'Ecrevisses
Blanchailles

Supreme de Volaiile a la Marechale

Selle d'Agneau a la Chivry

Fois Gras a la Gelee
Salade Nantaise

Cailles rotis sur canapes

Peches Rose de Mai
Caroline Glace
Croutes de Merluche
 
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From "Vogue" May 15, 1914:

"Creme de Volaille"

A deliacte meat course for a summer luncheon is made by grinding one pound of raw chicken with one-half teaspoonful of onion juice and two teaspoonfuls of parsley. Into this, one quarter of a pound of butter, seasoned with salt and pepper, is creamed, and three raw eggs, one at a time, are beaten into it very lightly. A mold is lined with this combination and the middle is filled with one-half can of champignons stewed in their liquor and thickened with butter and flour.

The middle is covered with some of the meat and the whole is steamed for five hours. The other half of the can of champignons is stewed in cream and poured over the mold before the dish is served. A small can of truffles greatly improves the dish. The liquor should be poured in the meat, one-half of the truffles sliced and stewed with the champignons, and the other half added to the cream champignon dressing. Individual molds may be used instead of the single large mold, if desired.
 
May 8, 2001
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Can I just order a What-a-Burger?
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Just kidding, Randy. Looks interesting. Certainly appreciate that you wrote what Creme de Volaille was. I didn't recognize a single thing on the Astor dinner menu. Last time I guessed something "sounded" good, (sweetbread) it turned out to be pancreas. (Bleh!!!)Guess I would be looking at the bottom of the Titanic menu under cheese and white bread for my meals.
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

Guest
Creme de Volaille with emphasis on the "creme" part, eh, Randy! Don't let's obsess about cholesterol! And a quarter pound (That's one whole stick) of butter, too! Woohoo! Let out the corset strings, ladies!

Pat W.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Pizza, hot dogs and hamburgers- Titanic era fodder? Actually -yes. I was surprised to see a program on the history channel today called "The History of American Eats" and learned that pizza was the working man's lunch snack. Lombardi's, in New York's Little Italy, was the first to procure a business license when the city made it a law back in 1905. Called pizza pies, they were crispy thick crusts with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese only. Men in the factories wrapped a wedge in brown greaseproof paper and warmed it up on the machinery during the lunch break. The hamburger story started at the St. Louis World Fair in 1904, when the meatball sandwich vendor was pressed for time waiting for the meatballs to cook through, so pressed them flat with a spatula- and history was made. The idea for putting them on round split rolls came from the grease dripping from the meat. Sizzling hot sausages were a Coney Island favorite- Nathan's is still in business and is a franchise . The hot dogs are even available at the supermarket and are pretty good. Am not sure but I think a real Coney Island style dog must have mustard, onion and sauerkraut on it. Hard to imagine a Vanderbilt or Astor happily munching a hot dog but apparently it was the done thing at amusement parks. Sinclair Lewis wrote a book called The Jungle in 1907 about slaughterhouses which blew the whistle on what really went in that ground beef! And now- I am starving. Next time- chop suey and other San Francisco's 1900's Chinatown fare.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Shelley said "Sinclair Lewis wrote a book called The Jungle in 1907 about slaughterhouses which blew the whistle on what really went in that ground beef!"

Anyone who likes hotdogs and burgers as I do would probably do well not to look into this too deeply. You might not like what you find.
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Regarding Nathan's, I can get it easily at the local Ingals. Pretty good dog too!
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