Party Georgian Style with Vanessa Kelly

It’s Party time—Georgian Style!

Vanessa Kelly 

My thanks to Donna and all the Banditas for hosting me today!  I’m thrilled to be celebrating the start of my new historical romance series, The Renegade Royals, with you lovely ladies.  And what better way to kick off a celebration than with a lavish dinner party!

Vanessa KellyNormally, I’d be setting the table Regency-style, and the four books in my new series are set smack in the middle of the Regency period.  But Lost in a Royal Kiss, the novella that kicks off the series, steps back a few dozen years to introduce some very important characters who feature later on in the books.

So, our party starts in 1786 and the table is set for a three course dinner that will take place over several hours.  Now, we moderns might think of ‘courses’ as perhaps a roast chicken or beef, with a few nice veg dishes and potatoes or rice.  But to our upper-class Georgian ancestors such a meal would be considered paltry in the extreme!  Try an average of fifteen to twenty-five dishes PER course.  You really had to pace yourself with this crowd, or you’d find yourself reaching for the stomach powders before you were halfway through dinner.

Our celebration would start with the soup and fish course, and then move on to the heartier fare—perhaps a lovely roast goose with apples and prunes, a joint of beef, and with a nice rabbit casserole and chicken fricassee thrown in to round things out. 

Once that teaser is over, it’s on to the sweet and savories—which is not, I hasten to add, dessert.  This course would include fruits and molded jellies, and perhaps an herb quiche or two and a savory cheesecake.

Are you still with me?  It’s finally on to dessert, which was a really big deal in both the Georgian and Regency eras and was likely the most expensive part of the meal.  The Georgians, you see, used a lot of butterSugar Molds, cream, eggs, and sugar.  One cake or pudding, for instance, could use up to a dozen eggs.  Our Georgian hostess might also serve baked apples, rum cakes, fruit trifles, ices, marzipan confections, apple custards…you get the picture.  Even the table settings got into the act, since they were often composed of elaborate sugar-pastes or ices molded into architectural or animal shapes.

Clearly, dessert was a serious business in the Georgian era.

And let’s not forget the festive beverages!  Champagne, of course, would be served, along with several kinds of wine.  After dinner drinks for the men would be port or brandy, and the ladies might indulge in a glass of sherry or ratafia.  All finished off in the drawing room with a tea service that could include cakes, biscuits, and dainty pastries.

Oh, boy.  Is it any wonder the Georgians suffered from gout and various stomach ailments?  As delightful as it all sounds, I’m getting a bit queasy just thinking about it.  When Lost in a Royal Kiss comes out on Nov. 26, I think I’ll stick to the champagne!

How about you, readers?  Would you like to sit down to a Georgian or Regency dinner party?  What’s the biggest celebration you ever took part in, and how many courses were served?  One person who comments will win an Advanced Reading Copy of Book One in my new series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard.

Lost In A Royal Kiss (eBook)Blurb for Lost in a Royal Kiss: 

In this thrilling introduction to her Renegade Royals series, Vanessa Kelly transports readers to the court of King George III—where a London street urchin unwittingly plays Cupid, ushering in a new era—and ultimately a new kind of royal…

With her widowed mother working long hours as governess to the royal children, Linnet St. Clare must look after her siblings and run the household. Now she must add to her worries the fate of Dominic, a poor orphan who has inspired the wrath of the king himself. Clearly Linnet has no time to consider her own desires—much less notice the attentions of a certain handsome, powerful magistrate…

Sir Anthony Tait is at a loss for how to capture Linnet’s interest. If only she would be still long enough for courting. Outright seduction seems the only answer. But will his kisses be enough to persuade her—or might Anthony have something to learn from young Dominic about matters of the heart? And in saving the boy’s future, might Anthony and Linnet at last create their own?

Pre-order links:  Kindle            iBooks                        B & N

Vanessa Kelly is an award-winning author who was named by Booklist, the review journal of the American Library Association, as one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance.” Her sensual, Regency-set historical romances have been nominated for awards in a number of contests, and her second book, Sex and The Single Earl, won the prestigious Maggie Medallion for Best Historical Romance. Vanessa’s next series, The Renegade Royals, is due to hit the shelves on Nov. 26 with Lost in a Royal Kiss. Book one in the series, Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard, will release in January, 2014.

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74 Comments

  • Marcy Shuler says:

    When I was young my dad was a trustee at a local community college. They had a culinary program and as part of their studies had to put on this huge plated dinner. I don’t recall how many courses there were, but I can still remember the pastry swans filled with custard. LOL

    I love the sound of your new series, Vanessa, and can’t wait to read it.

    • Marcy – Do you think they can make a sugar mold of the rooster? He’ll be posing for his own personal edible likeness at your place 🙂

    • Marcy, congrats on snagging the Golden Rooster! He can be troublesome, but putting him to work cuts down on that.

      Those pastry swans sound fabulous!

    • Hi Marcy! I once taught at a community college that had the same sort of program. It was fun to see the students working up these elaborate meals–not always successfully, but you had to give them marks for trying!

  • Hey – if there’s a party that involves food – I’m there 🙂 ! I’ve been at dinner parties where the food when on and on but not often. More likely, I’ve been at dinners where the wine “courses” went on and on LOL. I’ve had litle swan pastries filled with custard and sprinkled with gold flakes before – very elegant, but often those “lovely to look at” desserts don’t have a lot of taste.

  • Jane says:

    Congrats on the new release, Vanessa. I think I would very much enjoy attending a Regency dinner and sampling the roasted pheasant. I’ve been to Chinese weddings and we were served 9-12 main courses. The menu is typically the same for most weddings including noodles, fried rice and meat platter(roast pork and chicken.)

    • Hi Jane!

      I’ve been to one Chinese wedding. I don’t remember a lot of entrees – but I do remember being served a very dense green cake – I think it was made with tea. Different but tasty.

    • I’ve heard the Chinese banquets can be very elaborate, Jane. My mom’s family is Italian, and some of the weddings have been epic, too!

  • flchen1 says:

    I think it’d be fun to attend a Regency dinner–new culinary experiences are usually quite fun! And yes, like Jane, I’ve attended many Chinese weddings–depending the banquet menu chosen, it’s typically 10-12 courses, with many of the dishes having a symbolic meaning as well as being delicious 😉 Even the number of courses can have meaning–we Chinese are awfully superstitious people, and we do love our celebrations with food!

    • Fichen – Interesting that the number of courses are connected to superstitions as is the food served itself. I’ve only been to the one Chinese wedding but would love to experience more.

    • fichen, my daughter-in-law is Japanese, and they observe some interesting and elaborate dinning customs, too. Especially at New Year’s.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Wow Vanessa this series sounds awesome! Personally I have never attended any kind of dinner that went on and on like the Regency era dinners did but I think regardless of course it or not I still would eat very little from each course. Wow I do enjoy trying different foods I’m still a very picky eater, and I’m pretty sure that each course would offer me several choices. I also like to attend one just to say that I have.

  • Helen says:

    Vanessa

    Congrats on the release I bought it last night and it is on my kindle waiting for me to dive into 🙂

    I would love to go to one of these dinners although I am not sure I could eat more than just a taste of all the courses LOL, I have been to a few Chinese restaurants that have served many dishes and I am so full afterwards and I do enjoy and all you can eat buffet with lots to choose from

    Have Fun
    Helen

  • Hi Donna! Hi Vanessa! Vanessa, congratulations on the launch of a new series. I love those covers! Oh, man, Regency gluttony! It really is a subject all on its own, isn’t it? When you’re researching the banquets back then, your eyes cross at the extravagance. I remember a banquet that the Prince Regent held (I think it was at Carlton House) where he had a running stream down the centre of the table with live goldfish swimming around in it! Hmm, they don’t have parties like that anymore!

  • Anita H. says:

    I think I would love to sit at a Regency party and dine just like the characters I love reading about! I’ve been to a few Chinese weddings and their many, many courses. It’s amazing the amount of food and oh the varieties! I can’t even remember how many courses there were total!!

    Congrats on the new release, Vanessa! So looking forward to reading it!

  • SecretNinja says:

    Oh fun, I’d love to go to one of each type of party! I’ve read more about Regencies so if I had to pick one, it would probably be that one. A few years ago for my Grandma’s 90th birthday, we had a huge celebration with 12 courses — at a restaurant, not at home. It was absolutely fantastic and very filling lol

    Congrats Vanessa for your new series release!! I can’t wait to read them and I absolutely LOVE your covers!!
    Ada

    • SecretNinja – Congratulations to your Grandmother for being able to celebrate a 90-year birthday! I hope you inherited those long-life genes. Maybe the ability to party into one’s later years has something to do with it 🙂

    • Congrats to you Grandma on her 90th birthday, Secret Ninja! My dad turned 90 last July – we had a big Italian dinner with way too much food, but it was fun.

  • Anna Sugden says:

    Welcome to the Lair, Vanessa, and what a great topic! Those parties sound like such fun, but I’m afraid these days I can’t eat that much! We struggle when we go out for dinner to a restaurant that does a taster menu!

    Our favourite was one at Grammercy Tavern (in the days when Tom C was still in charge), which was supposed to be 9 courses – not including the amuse bouche or the palate cleanser or the after dinner chocolate truffles! By about course 6 we were so full! We struggled our way through the whole meal – which was delicious – but we thought we’d burst!

  • Maureen says:

    Congratulations Vanessa on your new book and series! I can’t imagine eating all that food but I am definitely a fan of all that dessert since I have a sweet tooth. The dinner with the most courses I can remember was my sister’s wedding where there was a cheese station, a carving station plus all the regular courses of hors d’oeuvres , salad and the main course.

  • Maureen – I’ve been to a few Italian weddings like that. It’s sort of a pick and choose thing as to what you like to eat with lots of options. Fortunately, there’s usually lots of dancing as well to help work off all those wonderful calories 🙂

  • Shannon says:

    Regency meals seem to be such spectacles. I was at one conference in the UK where they were having a “traditional” dinner. It started with a salad course, a soup course, a selection of pastas, an anti-pasta round, then the roast meats (beef, pheasant, and salmon) accompanied by vegetables in wonderful sauces, followed by cheese and fruit, and then by a selection of deserts. A different wine was paired with the main courses. After the speaker, we had coffee, tea, and more sweets.

    There was a substantial charge for the dinner–I thought it was for the speaker’s fee but it also was for the food. I don’t remember, but it might have been the 200th anniversary of the society, which would have meant the organization was founded during the Georgian era. Now, that I think about it, I wonder why there was a pasta, anti-pasta round.

    It was not the usual conference rubber chicken!

  • Vanessa, welcome! Your new series sounds great, and that’s a fabulous cover.

    Sure, I’d try a Regency or Georgian dinner. I had a medieval dinner (not featuring boar, thank goodness!) at a Richard III Society gathering some years ago, and it was very good. I wouldn’t mind trying something more modern. And the elaborate desserts would be fun!

  • Becke Turner says:

    Donna/Vanessa

    I loved the photo of the food sculptures. I’ve only seen similar items on the final night of a cruise.

    I’m totally intrigued with the spreads you described. What the heck did they do with all of that food? Did hundreds attend?

    Leftovers wouldn’t last long without refrigeration. Mercy, they didn’t even have plastic wrap or storage bags. This boggles the mind.

    Congratulations on the new series and best of luck.
    b

    • Becke –

      I know the manor lords would give the leftovers from their meals to the tenants on their estate. I forget where I read it, but the custom was to combine all the leftovers into a bucket and that “mash” was what was given

    • Becke, they often had a lot of guests at these dinners, but I suspect much of the food ended up with the servants, after the upstairs folks were finished.

  • Ladies, I have to go visit with my dad this morning–I’ll be back later for more fun in the Lair!

  • Cassondra says:

    Hi Vanessa, and welcome

    I admit that although I know all the manners and which fork to use, I don’t have a lot of patience with formality for its own sake. I like sitting down to break bread and laugh and talk with friends, eat, drink and be merry. That said, I’ve always thought there might have been a lot more of my kind of fun, even at the regency table, than is often portrayed in books. After all, it’s the drama and tension in the scene that makes it belong on the pages of the book.

    That said, although I’ve been to some really nice meals, I can’t remember how many courses, and I doubt I’ve been to a big dinner with all the range of formal courses that they served back then at parties.

    The few times I’ve had formal, multiple-course meals I did come to understand that part of it that always gets laughed at by the rest of us….you know, how people see the tiny main course on the plate and think, “that’s all I get?” There are so many courses, and it’s spread out over a long enough time, that by the time you finish all of those small portions, you’re full.

    I’ve always wondered just exactly HOW MANY staff people it took to not only prepare all of that (with no refrigeration) and to clean up the dishes from all those courses. I’m guessing the head of the kitchen and the housekeeper were the most important and talented people in the house, actually.

    • Cassondra, can you imagine the organization? And you’re correct – the housekeeper and cook were so important, as was the butler, who stick-handled the delivery of the food to the table.

  • Cassondra says:

    Oh, shoot. Forgot to say HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your new series! This sounds outstanding.

  • Welcome, Vanessa!! And congats on the new series. I simply love the plot of your first book and I look forward to reading it. 🙂

    I would love to take part in one of those fabulous Regency meals, but with my luck I would be stuck in the kitchen washing the dishes. I have had a few elaborate meals at weddings, though. And there was one amazing memorable meal in Hong Kong that was at least six courses. It was very fun. I believe there was drinking involved. 😉

  • Deb says:

    Congrats on the new series, Vanessa! That’s exciting for you and your readers.
    My family chooses a different country each year for Christmas dinner and the meals usually have 3 or 4 courses. BUT, nothing like a Georgian feast! Wow. How could you even enjoy the dessert course by the time it was served? Check, just skip the other courses and go right for the desserts, especially if there might be chocolate in there somewhere. 😉
    Congrats again!

  • Connie Fischer says:

    Hi, Vanessa! I’m looking forward to reading your new series as it progresses. I’m hearing great things about “Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard.”

    Speaking of good, I can attest to the fact that we ate some truly amazing dinners when we lived in Paris. Many of them were after NATO business meetings held in the different NATO countries. I remember being offered reindeer and cloud berries in Norway. Wow! I did rather draw the line at the sweetbreads offered to us in Spain. Umm – I’ll leave those for the children. I understand that’s a staple for them as they’re easily digestible. I beg to differ. I think I would have a hard time getting them down!

    That centerpiece is beautiful. It reminds me of the little treats we bought in Paris that were a whole lemon stuffed with lemon sorbet or an orange stuffed with orange sorbet and frozen. Makes for a beautiful and light little dessert.

  • catslady says:

    Many years ago we took a trip to Europe and went on a Seine River cruise. I never saw so many wine glasses and silverware for one person lol. To this day I still remember the first course of pate. I no longer eat it because of how it is made but it was wonderful. And the wines… I can’t remember the rest but I know it was all fantastic and there were many courses.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Vanessa, the novella sounds delectable! I can’t wait to indulge in this new series, as well.

    As far as feasts go, every Thanksgiving is an enormous, table-groaning affair for my family of origin. We have my family, four siblings and their families, my mom and any random friends and in-laws who happen to choose to come by. This year we will be a small group, only 10 of us, so we won’t have the insane amount of food we normally have.

    Still, I baked a chocolate-almond marbled cheesecake, two pumpkin pies and a carrot cake. My younger sister is making pecan and apple pies. So if nothing else, we will be in a sugar coma come Friday! 😀

  • Congratulations on the new series Vanessa and welcome to the Lair!

    WOW! All that food for one dinner! I’m full just reading about it! Which is not good as I have pies in the oven, cranberries on the stove and a huge turkey in the fridge for tomorrow’s meal.

    I’ve been to one formal dinner that had 5 courses. I paced myself well, since I wanted to be sure to have room for the deserts at the end. I’m pretty sure wines and sorbets were involved, too!

  • gamistress66 says:

    thanksgiving & easter are about as big/fancy as dinners go for me, and I can say I’ve never had a dinner where there was a fish course or one where the dishes for the entire meal was over a dozen or so (and this is with mixed vegetarian & meat eaters at the table) much less for just one course except for at a big buffet. though the idea of a sweet/savory course & desert course does have some appeal 😉

  • bn100 says:

    either one
    a 15 course family dinner

  • pjpuppymom says:

    Congrats on the novella and the new series, Vanessa! I’ve read “Lost in a Royal Kiss” and it’s terrific. It has me counting down the days until Secrets for Seducing a Royal Bodyguard!

    Those Georgian dinners remind me of a few family dinners growing up, especially those held during the summer where both sides of my parents’ large families were present. Lots of good cooks and lots of good food!

    The closest I’ve come to something like that as an adult would be while on a cruise. There were multiple choices for each course and we were encouraged to select one or more (or all) of the options for each course. Every dish was beautifully prepared and the desserts were extravagant; clearly the highlight of the meal.

    Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!

  • PJ! So great to see you! And I’m thrilled you liked LOST. Yes, cruises are probably the modern day equivalent of a Georgian/Regency dinner party.

    Randy and I are both wishing you a wonderful and happy Thanksgiving! *hugs*

  • Barbara Elness says:

    I don’t think I’d be up for that type of dinner party, way too many calories, no matter how you try to just take small portions. The largest dinner I’ve ever had is Thanksgiving dinner, or a buffet where I sampled a lot of things with small portions.

  • Hello, Vanessa! LOVE your books!

    I think I could handle one of those Georgian / Regency dinners. The key is to pace yourself and try a bit of everything. I found that out the hard way when I attended a week of Fasching Balls and Dinners in Austria. There was a huge formal dinner every evening with anywhere from eight to sixteen courses! And then there was a formal ball – some costume, some not. Our opera troupe included the heir to an Austrian barony (he is a fabulous baritone!) and he invited us to attend the Fasching progression that ended at his ancestral home. It was fabulous, but I think I gained twenty pounds in a week!

  • Pat Cochran says:

    The HS Honey and I attended has a culinary department
    with classes taught by a chef. On special occasions,
    Chef and the students have presented those attending
    an outstanding meal. I have had the honor to attend two
    of those dinners and they were absolutely wonderful !

    Happy Thanksgiving Day to all !

    Pat Cochran

  • Kim says:

    Congrats on the new novella. A Regency dinner sounds fun, but I don’t care for how long they last.

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