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Memorable Meals (Hardback)
  • Memorable Meals (Hardback)
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Memorable Meals (Hardback)

(author)
£17.99
Hardback 320 Pages / Published: 03/02/2011
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This book explores the spirit of a swatch of English social history by means of a unique assortment of meals. The period is 1780 to 1860, and the entertainments include the 'public breakfast' for 400 guests arranged as a gesture of defiance by Mrs Fitzherbert, the mistress of William, Prince of Wales; a Christmas festivity stage-managed by the aesthete and disgraced homosexual William Beckford for Lord Nelson, his mistress Lady Hamilton and her husband Sir William at the semi-ruinous Fonthill Abbey; and, the Duchess of Richmond's ball in Brussels on the eve of the Battle of Waterloo. The entertainments also include a gaslit dinner hosted by the engineer Mark Isambard Brunel inside his dangerously incomplete tunnel under the River Thames; the ball which followed the disastrous, waterlogged mock-medieval Eglinton Tournament held by the Young England group of aristocrats in Scotland; New Year celebrations in a 'ballroom' carved out of the Antarctic ice-cap by Joseph Hooker and other members of James Clark Ross' expedition; and, a white-tie dinner for the scientific elite inside the model of a dinosaur at the Crystal Palace after the Great Exhibition. During these Regency and early Victorian decades, the talented, raffish and self-indulgent 'Prinny' was replaced by the intelligent, motivated and self-disciplined Prince Albert, the Age of Elegance yielded to the Industrial Revolution, and the supremacy of the artistocrat was eroded by the energy of the bourgeois grafter. Both periods were characterised by what the historian G M Young described as 'exuberance and facility', when Englishmen's 'sense of the worthwhileness of everything, - themselves, their age, and their country- overflowed in sentiment and invective, loud laughter, and sudden reproof'. Taking place as they did under the influence of evangelists like Isabella Beeton and royal chefs like Car-me and Francatelli, the festivities themselves were often culinary triumphs in their own right. Through them can be traced changes in social etiquette, gastronomic and dietary changes, and those brought about by exotic imports from colonies overseas and technological innovations such as canning. What makes this wide-ranging and highly diverting book unique, however, is the combination of meals, contexts and locations in a series of unforgettable and unrepeatable experiences.

Publisher: Vintage Publishing
ISBN: 9780224072632
Number of pages: 320
Dimensions: 240 x 156 mm

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