Food Habits of the Victorian Era

To study the food culture of ancient people is quite interesting. However, even the 19th century Victorian England also had a unique food culture. Entertainment no doubt includes food and drinks. Eating and Drinking are the ways of celebration for any group of people around the globe. So it was for the Victorian society.

Victorian food
Victorian food

There is not much difference between the food habits of Victorian society and those of modern England. A famous maxim itself was “A place for everything and everything in its place.” This pointed out to the system of manners and customs of Victorian England which the people gradually began to adopt.

Other developments like cookware and kitchen gadgets and food sterilization techniques facilitated a revolution in the food culture of the Victorian people. There were people who ate only two meals per day unlike us who eat three meals a day. But this was not a common feature. Fine ingredients, such as imported exotic spices were used in lavishly prepared meals

Breakfasts were not uncommon. A breakfast meal consisted of dishes such as fruits, scones, bull’s eye, bacon etc. Meat, fish, and poultry were common and fresh or canned vegetables were served with most meals. Afternoon tea was generally provided at all homes especially those of the wealthier class. In the summer, people relied on lighter dishes and chicken. In the winter and autumn seasons, soups and stews were used.

Large breakfasts, small lunches and late suppers This was said to be the food system of Victorian people.

Special occasions or events called for special dishes. Holiday meals were another peculiarity. Special deals consisted of Roast Mutton, Pork or Turkey, Boiled Beef, Stewed Rabbits, Plum Pudding and Mince Pies. Recipe books began to be sold and bought. The rich homes had recipe books while the poor homes did not.

A reference has to be made about the afternoon tea. “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as an afternoon tea, wrote Henry James. Anna Duchess of Bedford was one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting. She invented the practice of afternoon tea. Later tea dances and tea rooms emerged in hotels. Tea sandwiches were also delicious, cut into various shapes. White bread was used for these sandwiches.

Chilled champagne was served after the end of a course. Popular beverages were Lemonade, root beer, and hot tea. The dessert course featured several puddings, cakes and highly prized specialties such as Nesselrode and Plum Pudding.

A dessert called Cherries Jubilee was invented in the event of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee celebration in 1897. This fancy dessert has ingredients like 5 eggs, sugar, lemon juice, flour, salt etc. Cooking was a lengthy process in Victorian England and it got the attention it deserved.

Found info useful?