Monday, 16 July 2012

Introduction: Food in Georgian and Victorian Britain

I consciously steered away from Early Modern food history after some time in research – possibly out of sheer contrariness, since they first thing practically everyone I talked to about this project instantly asked me about the Tudors. (For the record: As much meat as they could get, plus as much sugar as they could afford to show off, frequently in combination.) Starting somewhere in the Georgian period became my idea when I was working on a different project on historical institutions, and got the chance to take a look behind the scenes at Kew Palace Kitchens as they were rebuilt, and talk to some of the food historians responsible for their restoration. The 1700s – particularly the later decades – always feel to me like the tipping point between ‘Early Modern’ and ‘Modern’, before the Victorians and the Industrial Revolution remade the world with factories, railways and telegraph. It seemed a fitting place, then, to look at food fashions and track their changes – even in the very broadest of strokes.
So, I'm beginning with Georgian Britain: Who was cooking what?

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