With the holidays coming, and entertaining planned, I look into holiday food of the 18th Century. Generally speaking, meat made up the largest portion of the diet of the English at that time. For example, a meal served to Queen Anne in 1705 included: Oleo, Pigeons, Sirloin of Beef rost, Venison, Chyne of Mutton, Turkey, Snipes, Ducks, Partridge. If someone served venison, by the way, it generally meant that they had vast property from which to hunt. Venison therefore was a status symbol.
Meat was not restricted to the upper class. Most people ate meat, but unlike the Queen, veggies were big at the average person's table. Funny thing, by today's standards, the included vegetables would be the RIGHT and BEST and HEALTHIEST way to go!
Evening meals of meats were generally served cold; heated for when company was present.
The quality of food became rather poor during the 1700's in England, as meat rose in popularity. Due to urbanization, meat had to be brought into the city, and the trip was not always easy or quick. Meats were not refrigerated, and hence could spoil along the way. A doctor who was the author of the 1788 book The Honours of the Table warned that the odor of meat was such that one should keep it away from his/her nose while eating it!
The things we take for granted today! Think about it, even the royals or aristocracy did not always have the best food to choose from. And that is why presentation was so important! Who could resist the fabulous crust décor for a meat pie, or the flaming Christmas pudding with a sprig of holly.