Sunday, 28 June 2009

Mrs. A. B. Marshall's Souper du Bal

I'm at a wedding today - the second one this month. I noticed that in both cases guests were offered a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian entrees, with appetizers before and dessert after, followed by another round of dessert when the wedding cake is served.

I thought I would look up a wedding menu from an old cookbook of mine: Mrs. A.B. Marshall's Cookery Book. There is no date in this book, but judging from the illustrations it's from the late 1870's or early 1880's. Mrs Marshall was the Martha Stewart of her day, running a successful cooking school and mail-order business in London, as well as publishing a cookbook that went through many editions, right into the 1930's.

At any rate I didn't find a menu for a wedding, and so will have to leave you with a menu for a ball. Let us suppose it is a wedding-ball.

(For 400 to 500 persons. Can be modified for a less number.)

Consomme clair.
Cotelettes d'Agneau aux petits Pois.
Cailles au Cresson.

Jambon a la Gelée.
Paté de Gibier a la Francaise.
Galantine de Dande a la Gelée.
Sandwiches a la Espagne.
Sandwiches a la Victoria.
Chaudfroid de Faisan.
Mayonnaise de Homard a la Gelée.
Salade de Volaille a la Hanson.
Perdreau a la Souvaroff.
Filets de Sole a la Sefton.
Petities Cremes de Saumon au Salpicon.
Chaudfroid de Cailles a la Princesse.
Petites Nectarines de Foie Gras a la Belle.
Supreme de Volaille a la Darmstadt.
Mauviettes a la Ripon.
Cotelettes de Fois Gras en Aspic.
Salade a la Adeline.
Petits Patés aux Huitres.
Filets de Hareng marinés a l'Osborne.
Olives a la St. Augustin.
Pailles d'Anchois.
Peches a l'Australienne.
Champignons Meringues a la Nuremburg.
Pommes a la Princesse Maude.
Petits Nougats a la Creme.
Jumeaux Siamois.
Gelée a la Francaise.
Bavaroise aux Pistaches.
Petites Gateaux a la Russe
Dessert. Glaces. Thé. Café. "

Goodness. That'll keep the scullery maid hopping.

It's interesting to see that some of it is, by modern standards, far too fancy to consider serving to "400 or 500" poeople; things like the Mayonnaise de Homard a la Gelée, or the Perdreau a la Souvaroff, while other things are perfectly possible, although possibly deemed not fancy enough; sandwiches, pickled herrings, anchovy straws and olives. The last two are probably festive enough, just not worth actually putting on the menu.

And what the heck are "Jumeaux Siamois"? Yes, I know they're Siamese (conjoined) twins, but presumably not actual Siamese twins. That would be... disconcerting, to say the least. I don't think even the Victorians were quite that decadent.

Well, I'm off for my apps-chicken-dessert-cake wedding dinner. I don't think I'll be coming away hungry, although I will spare a pang for the Bavarois aux Pistaches, which I'm sure was fab.

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