Friday, October 18, 2019

II - Victorian Christmas Food

As with most Christmas celebrations throughout the years, food played a big part in the Victorian traditions. Roasted goose and pudding were 2 popular dishes. For the first time turkey became a main part of the holiday menu.

Oysters that were earlier looked down on by the affluent as the “poor man’s protein” were now seen as a delicacy. They could be found on the Christmas table on the half shell and in the dressing. Other foods included on the menu were: Lobster Salad, Baked Squash,Creamed Parsnips, Stewed Onions, Vanilla Ice Cream, Salted Almonds, Fruits, and Rolls, to name a few.

Attending church services and then the Christmas dinner with family were mainstay traditions of the Victorians’ Christmas Day celebrations. At more affluent homes, the tables were set with the sterling flatware, fine China, crystal, and fine linen napkins. The linen covered table was decorated with flowers and evergreens. The dinner was the highlight of the day with large quantities of food and drink.

The meal was lavish and extravagant. Platters of roasted goose, standing rib of beef, ham, and turkey were served. There would be a sage dressing served with the goose. Also, there could be delicacies such as oysters and boar’s head. Desserts made include pies such as cranberry and mince, along with plum pudding and many other items. 

In Victorian times, the pudding was regarded very highly. Cooking it was regarded as a ritual and the entire family would actively participate in preparing the Plum pudding. Since it took plenty of time to cook, work on the pudding would start a few days in advance. It was made of suet, bread crumbs, raisins, and spices. 

The pudding was kept to set itself until the Christmas day and was then boiled in beef broth. Christmas cake and Mince Pie were other popular desserts preferred during the Christmas Eve. After dinner, people lit firecrackers and celebrated Christmas. The Victorians also indulged in other activities like singing and playing games. 

As with many Victorian traditions, there were some holidays foods that were a bit 'odd'. One example was 'Broxy'. Believe it or not this was meat from animals that had dropped dead from disease. And, this could be found in your neighnorhood butcher shop. Needless to say this meat could possibly contain many diseases - tetanus, salmonella, and ringworm. But, have no fear, the poorer folks who could only afford such, rinsed it with vinegar and lemon to 'remove' these potential life threatening traits.

Other examples included pickled oysters, flour soup (made from water, butter, flour, salt, and caraway seeds), jellied eel, heron pudding (yes, made from the birds), boiled calf's head, and sheep trotters (feet). Thankfully, none of these have made it to my holiday table - yet.

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