Late this morning I stopped by the kitchen of the Governor's Palace, Colonial Williamsburg, where preparations were under way for dinner with the royal governor and his guests, c. 1775. Dinner was the main meal of the day, served around 2:00 p.m. Although this meal was being served in the colony of Virginia, far from London, the governor would have brought his own cook (we'd call him a master chef today) with him, this highly-trained and well-paid cook would have overseen the creation of the same kind of fashionable dishes being served in Britain.
Barbara Scherer and Melissa Blank, left, members of Colonial Williamsburg's Historic Foodways program, explained the recipes as they prepared a delicious assortment of Georgian dishes. (As always, please click on the photos to enlarge them for details.)
What was on the menu? On the table in the photograph, right, front row, left to right: a ragout of pig's feet, served with celery and onion in the thickened cooking liquid and crowned with the pig's curled tail; beef tongue on rounds of fried sweet potato; simmered ham from the kitchen's smokehouse; and tripe and onions. In the back row, left to right: the composed salad known as salmagundy; broccoli dressed with olive oil; and poached eggs with creamed spinach. Orange slices and marigold blossoms garnish the dishes.
Also on the table would have been the selection of small dishes, below left: almond-shaped chocolate comfits, fig jellies, and cakes made with cheese, cut into the shapes of stars and moons.
If you'd like to try your own hand at 18th c. cooking and baking, be sure to visit Colonial Williamsburg's History is Served web site. There you'll not only find more information about the Historic Foodways program, but also an ever-growing selection of 18th c. recipes complete with modern versions and instruction videos.
There’s a big difference in how we use history. But we’re equally nuts about it. To us, the everyday details of life in the past are things to talk about, ponder, make fun of -- much in the way normal people talk about their favorite reality show.
We talk about who’s wearing what and who’s sleeping with whom. We try to sort out rumor or myth from fact. We thought there must be at least three other people out there who think history’s fascinating and fun, too. This blog is for them.