By Chefadoo’s Jen Hankin
All eyes are pointed at the newest royal, Prince William & Kate’s son, His Royal Highness Prince George Alexander Louis of Cambridge. We’re already obsessed with the future King of England!
With this royal bundle of joy, it got me thinking about what foods are typically found at a Royal Fest. Celebratory banquets and feasts have always been part of royal life, but what was on the menu?
If past royal delicacies are anything to go by then pretty much anything, including seagull, marigolds or peacock – with the skin and feathers put back on after cooking of course. Dive into each Royal throughout history to see what the Royal Fest entailed:
During Queen Victoria’s reign, you had to come hungry to her celebrations as there were four to six courses, with seven to nine dishes in each! For big occasions, dishes often included cod with oyster sauce, ballotines of duck in Cumberland sauce and roast lamb. There would be a dessert course, with dishes like chocolate profiteroles. As if that wasn’t enough, a buffet of hot and cold meats was also kept on a sideboard during the meal, just in case you got hungry between courses.
For Charles II dining was extremely important, it was one of the things that defined him as a king. There were not courses as we know them, more stages of service. Each could involve hundreds of plates. At one banquet in 1671, guests were served 145 dishes alone during the first course, says Kathryn Jones, curator at the Royal Collection and author of For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace. By his reign a dessert course had developed. Charles loved fruit and was one of the first people in the country to eat a pineapple. Also the first recorded mention of ice cream is on a banquet menu for Charles II.
Food in the Tudor era was very exciting, say historians. Big feasts could include venison, swan, peacock, heron, porpoise and seagull. While a lot of meat was served, there were also vegetables. Whatever could be grown was served, including cabbage, peas and lettuce. Flowers were also eaten, such as marigolds. They were used in salads and as a garnish. Sweet dishes were served throughout the meal, not at end. Fruit and nuts were eaten at the end.
Royal banquets got a lot more elaborate under Edward IV and the whole notion of etiquette behavior more complex, says Chris Woolgar, professor of history and archival studies at Southampton University. A very important servant was the carver, who would cut the King’s meat at the top table. Guests would have their meat carved in the kitchen and brought up to them. The finest meats and fish. Sweet dishes were served with meat and fish, not separately.
Modern State Banquets
- Takes two days to lay the 175ft-long dining table at Buckingham Palace
- Each place setting measures 45cm and a rod is used to achieve the exact alignment of chair and table
- 1,104 glasses are used, six for each guest
- George IV’s 4,000-piece Grand Service is used
- Takes eight people three weeks to clean the service
- 170 linen napkins, with the Queen’s monogram, are folded by one man in the shape of a Dutch bonnet