Victorian era dinner party?
Some of us wanted to stage a dinner party on the occasion of "Victoria Day", the 24th of May. Not that we are monarchist by any means, but thought it might be fun. Of course upper-middle-class food or up to royal and aristocratic, because I doubt any of us would be very happy with the foods working class people had to make do with in Victoria's reign, but nothing terribly elaborate, it is just for fun. Any ideas?
For a dinner of that theme, you must include oysters. For reasons that I cannot quite fathom (no pun intended), oysters were VERY popular in those times.
Incidentally, please don't invite me if oysters are the only thing that is available, as I do not eat them. Does that make me anti-Victorian?
if it's not too complicated for you to pull off, do a tasting menu. really elaborate meals had a ridiculous number of courses, with small amounts of food for each course.
smoked herring (or pickled)
fruit preserves / jarred fruit (for dessert)
anything french or french sounding
(and of course, ted's suggestion of oysters -- very popular)
cool idea for a party. :)
I'd recommend buying or borrowing a copy of Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management. Apart from being ideal for your dinner party (Mrs Beeton was the celebrity cook of the Victorian era), it's a fun book to dip into, and it gives you a real insight into what life was like in Victorian homes. It's still in print, and you might be able to get it in your local library.
ETA - you can get it on Amazon for ten dollars. :-)
Some ideas, lagatta....
http://www.fortunecity.com/millenium/ratty/195/victorian_recipes.html (Christmas music at this one that you can't turn off! LOL)
http://www.foodtimeline.org/foodpioneer.html#victorian (The Food Timeline is a great resource!)
If you want to go for authenticity, then your best resource is Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management. There is a free online copy, and here's the URL for dinner menus: http://www.mrsbeeton.com/40-chapter40...
There are some things from the Victorian Era that were so taken for granted that no one ever wrote about them. One is whether every guest had a serving of everything that was offered in any given course, or if it was more like restaurant service today where each guest would choose one. The menus in Mrs. Beeton are for dinners in the home. Mrs. Beeton also generously explaines the duties you are to expect of your footman, scullery maid, cook, butler, liveryman, and all the rest of the hired help you lead through life.
I would go through the menus, but choose only one selection from each course. And then I'd make damn sure that everyone who thinks this is such a great idea is heavily involved in preparing the meal...! Even a paired down Victorian menu is a great deal of work!
And don't forget the table settings! Martin Scorsese spent four years of his life collecting the Victorian china, silver, and linens he used in "Thr Age of Innocence." Watching it may give you some idea of what the standards were.