Food and Dining
Here I offer, for your consideration, a variety of facts, recipes, admonitions and illustrations
all having to do with the Regency table.
My Latest Research Discoveries 2015
Advertisement from The Morning Post
30 October 1801
An ornament, or assiette montée, from The Italian Confectioner 1827
Advertisement from The Morning Chronicle 25 Dec 1819
The following book is a fount of information on the Regency kitchen and its extended household, and is available from Google Books for download.
7The book was written by one Duncan McDonald (spelled variously) purported to be Head Cook at the Bedford Tavern and Hotel of Covent-Garden.

Mr. McDonald, it seems to me, knew what he was doing. The book truly is, as is claimed in the Conclusion, a Complete System of Domestic Economy. Every necessity for a household is discussed--from menus, recipes, table settings, butchering and carving, to sick rooms, servants' instructions and marketing.

Among the plethora of information I found several things particularly interesting and unique among the cookbooks of the era that I have seen in my own research. 'Bills of Fare' encompass dozens of pages and offer menu suggestions based on seasonal availabilities and number of guests. The supper offerings alone require nine pages.

The diagrams of desert [sic] tables are charming, and the contents of those offerings are very interesting.

The most interesting, and unusual, items in the New London Family Cook are the articles about marketing and tradesmen. The book offers:
 And it supplies a critique of each market, with comments such as:
Shepherd's Market, towards the west end of Oxford Street, contains nothing out of the ordinary way.

St. James's Market, near St. James's Square, is well supplied with all sorts of provisions."
The New London Family Cook also offers:
This London directory suggests retailers hand-picked by the author. This is the kind of personal recommendation any London householder would appreciate.
For example,
 Alchorne & Bingley, Oil and Colourmen, 18, Aldgate High-street
Batley & Co., Drug-grinders, Sewall-street, Goswell-street
Wm. Elliott, Chinaman, 27, St. Paul's Churchyard
Grant & Hurley, Carpet and Upholstery Warehouse, 226, Piccadilly
Rich. Jones, Perfumer and Toyman, 25 Ludgate-street
James Maunder, Brandy Merchant, 9, Crutched-friars
Edward Russell, Biscuit-baker, 453, Strand

There are four pages of these recommendations!

The illustration below I have not seen in another cookery book of the period.

There is a short section detailing the cuts of meat indicated on the animals. Venison and turtle are, of course, not as widely used today as they were during the Regency. The New London Family Cook even suggests the best places in London for obtaining venison:
Angel's, the corner of Gracechurch Street, Cornhill
Birch's, Cornhill, and
Rich's, at the bottom of Ludgate Hill
The following is another book of the same sort:
The title page lists the contents of the book in wonderfully detailed terms:
Illustrations for carving are challenging for contemporary cooks:
Laying the table, as Elizabeth Hammond describes it, with accompanying illustration has been discussed in my blog at http://lesleyannemcleod.blogspot.com/Modern Domestic Cookery
There is also the matter of trussing, a lost art of cooking, which involves binding and tying an animal for roasting. Here is Elizabeth Hammond's illustration of the best methods:
And now for some receipts--or recipes as we call them. Modern Domestic Cookery covers every kind of food preparation. Here is a sample:
Pound three ounces of sweet, and six single bitter almonds, add one pint of water, strain it through a lawn sieve, and then add two table-spoonsful of oranne-flower water.
To butter shrimps
Take a quart of shrimps, stew them in half a pint of white wine, a good piece of butter, and a grated nutmeg. When the butter is melted, and the shrimps are hot through, beat the yolks of four eggs with a little white wine, and pour it in; then dish it on sippets, and garnish with sliced lemon.
Ratafia cakes
Take eight ounces of bitter almonds, blanch and beat them fine, while beating them, add the whites of eight eggs, one at a time, and mix it up with sifted sugar to a light paste; roll the cakes, and lay them on wafer-paper, or tin plates, make the paste so light as to take it up with a spoon, then bake in a quick oven
Apricot Wine
Pick your fruit when nearly ripe, wipe and quarter them, to every eight pounds, add six quarts of water; let them boil till the water tastes strong, then strain them through a hair-sieve, and put half a pound of fine sugar to every quart of liquor, boil and scum till it ceases to rise. Put it into an earthen stein twenty-four hours, them bottle it up with a lump of sugar in each bottle.
To make anchovy sauce
For this purpose, take a pint of gravy, put in an anchovy, roll a quarter of a pount of butter in a little flour, which add to it, and stir the whole together till it boils. To this, if you wish it, may be added lemon-juice, red wine, and ketchup.
Partridge soup
Take four old partridges, clean, skin, and cut them into pieces, with eight slices of ham, two heads of celery, and five onions, cut into slices, fry them nicely brown in butter, but be careful to prevent them from burning; then lay them in a stew-pan with seven pints of boiling water, some pepper-corns, a bit of beef or mutton, and a small portion of salt. Let the whole stew three hours, then strain it, and again put it in the stew-pan, and place it on the fire till near boiling, then serve it up.

Now another view of Regency food and dining.
All the coloured photographs below are courtesy of Historic Food, the website of food historian Ivan Day at http://www.historicfood.com/portal.htm
Mr. Day does historic reproduction of food items, using original recipes, receipts and where necessary original moulds.
The items recreated here were prepared for an exhibition in 2000 titled Eat, Drink and Be Merry.


Mr. Day's display A Regency Dessert
was an important part of the exhibition,
and included, in the table setting, original silver gilt flower vase/baskets.




A triumph of the confectioner's art -- tiny sugar
baskets made from original early 19th Century molds.
A Regency creamware pineapple mold, and
a pineapple cream made with a similar mold.

Biscuits bearing the Prince of Wales' feathers design


A selection of Regency biscuits
A tipsy cake was a favourite way of using up a stale Savoy cake. A mixture of wine and brandy was poured over the cake until it could drink no more. It was then studded with almonds and a custard was poured around the base, which was garnished with ratafias or macaroons
Mr. Day "made this Savoy Biscuit for Channel 4's Regency Feast, a biography of the great chef de cuisine Antonin Carême, presented by Ian Kelly and produced for Flashback Television by Jonathan Lubert. It is surmounted by the Prince of Wales feathers pressed in gum paste from a contemporary mould and has a garniture of pistachio Genoise cakes. It is placed on a low circle of pate d'office coated with green sugar grains and edged with a gum paste border cast from an early nineteenth century boxwood mould.

And, from the recipe files of Historic Food:

Usquebaugh is one of the earliest English cordial waters and dates from the Tudor period. It retained its popularity well into the nineteenth century.

The word whisky is derived from the Irish usquebaugh, which is literally the Gaelic translation of Latin aqua vitae, the water of life. But usquebaugh consumed in seventeenth and eighteenth century England and France bore no resemblance to the spirit we now call whisky. It was a spicy, bright yellow cordial, usually flavoured with aniseed, liquorice and saffron and sweetened with fruit sugar extracted from figs and raisins by maceration.

Yellow Escubac
One ounce of saffron, one ounce of Damascus raisins, one ounce of cinnamon, three pounds of sugar, one ounce of liquorice, one ounce of corianders, three pints of brandy, two pints of water. Pound these ingredients, and dissolve the sugar in two pints of water; put the whole in ajar to infuse for a month, taking care to stir it up every second day, or third at farthest.

From: G.A. Jarrin, The Italian Confectioner (London: 1820)

A  late 1700's guide for servants suggests a COOK's schedule:
"She should bake Wednesdays and Saturdays, clean her Larder and Pantries Mondays and Fridays, and rise Tuesday to wash her own things. Thursday morning wipe her pewter or do any other early job, or as a favor, she may get her kitchen business forward and iron her things instead of doing it in the evening..."

All this, no doubt, in addition to providing meals each and every day for the dining room and the servants' hall.

Three simple domestic rules:

1. Do everything in its proper time.

2. Keep everything to its proper use.

3. Put everything in its proper place.

from Enquire Within Upon Everything (see below)
"It is a matter of regret that table napkins are not considered indispensable in England. With all our boasted refinements, they are far from being general."
Etiquette and the Usages of Polite Society 1836
"Smelling the meat whilst on the fork before you put it in your mouth...is unacceptable."
                                       Principles of Politeness by Dr. J. Trusler


Mix two pounds of flour, one ditto butter, one ditto sugar, one ditto currants, clean and dry; then wet into a stiff paste with two eggs, a large spoonful of orange-flower water, ditto rose-water, ditto sweet wine, ditto brandy; drop on a tin-plate floured, a very short time bakes them.

Maria Rundell  Domestic Cookery for Private Families  1806


The general rules are, to have a brisk hot fire, to hang down rather than to spit, to baste with salt and water, and one quarter of an hour to every pound of beef, though tender beef will require less, while old tough beef will require more roasting; pricking with a fork will determine you whether done or not; rare done is the healthiest and the taste of this age.

   Harriet Whiting  Domestic Cookery 1819

To boil Turbot

The turbot-kettle must be of a proper size, and in the nicest order. Set the fish in cold water sufficient to cover it completely, throw a handful of salt and a glass of vinegar into it, and let it gradually boil; be very careful that there fall no blacks; but skim it well, and preserve the beauty of the colour.
Serve it garnished with a complete fringe of curled parsley, lemon and horse-radish.

The sauce must be the finest lobster, and anchovy butter, and plain butter, served plentifully in separate tureens.

Common Sillabub

Put a pint of cider and a bottle of strong beer into a large bowl; grate in a small nutmeg, and sweeten it to your taste. Then milk from the cow as much milk as will make a strong froth. Let it stand an hour, and then strew over it a few currants, well washed, picked, and plumped, before the fire, and it will be fit for use.

on raspberries

"Both the scent and flavour of this fruit are very refreshing, and the berry itself is exceedingly wholesome and invaluable to people of a nervous or bilious temperament. Its juice is rich and abundant and to many extremely agreeable."   

Mrs. Beeton

Mix one pound currants, one drachm nutmeg, mace and cinnamon each, a little salt, one pound of citron, orange peel candied, and almonds bleached, 6 pounds of flour well dried, beat 21 eggs, and add with one quart new ale yeast, half pint of wine, 3 half pints of cream, and raisins q.s.

Harriet Whiting   Domestic Cookery  1819


The whole art of wine-making consists in the proper management of the fermentation process; the same quantity of fruit, whether it be rhubarb, currants, gooseberries, grapes (unripe), leaves, tops and tendrils, water, and sugar, will produce two different kinds of wine, by varying the process of fermentation only--that is a dry wine like sherry, or a brisk one like champagne.

     - Enquire Within upon Everything