Justine: Some Historical Fun in the Kitchen

Program note: I have a set of blog posts planned over the next several weeks geared for the newbie writer. I’m calling it “Back to Basics,” as I find myself going back to the storytelling basics as I work on my new contemporary romance. Also, beginning next week, Nancy Hunter and I will be alternating Tuesdays. I’ll start with my first “Back to Basics” piece, then she’ll blog the following week. We hope you’ll tune in!

In the meantime…I’m taking you back in time!


Last week, I followed a link from Isabella Bradford and Loretta Chase’s site Two Nerdy History Girls and after much clicking and reading, I found these amazing videos of cooking in a real Georgian kitchen.


Kew Palace (rear) and Queen’s Gardens. Image courtesy WikiMedia Commons.

The kitchen, located in a separate building from Kew Palace, is one of the few original Georgian kitchens restored as it was last used over 200 years ago. Here you can learn how food was stored and meals were made, Georgian-style.

Below are three short videos of meals made for George III on 6 Feb 1789, when he was well enough to hold utensils after one of his regular illnesses.

[Sidenote: historians postulate that the “madness” that King George III suffered was in fact porphyria, a disorder which can result in neurological problems or skin problems, sometimes both. It was his “madness” that resulted in his eldest son, George, becoming Prince Regent in 1810 until George III died and George became King George IV in 1820, leading to the term Regency that we use today.]

That day in February 1789, the royal chef prepared the following for HRM George III:

  • Soupe Barley (soup was almost always the first course, and was typically served by the male head of the household — but not the king)
  • Mutton smoured in a frying panne (“smoured” means browned or seared. This dish is made with lemons and looks almost Mediterranean)
  • Chocolate Tart (most chocolate during this time came in liquid form…chocolate bars were still many years off)

Soupe Barley


Mutton Smoured in a Frying Panne


Chocolate Tart

I hope you enjoy watching the videos. I’m going to give them a try in my kitchen. Are you?

3 thoughts on “Justine: Some Historical Fun in the Kitchen

  1. What I found especially interesting was how much of the adding and stirring the cook did with his hands—adding butter by pinching it off the plate, beating the eggs with his fingers—and so on. I wonder if that was authentic? I’ve sometimes pinched butter off a greater mass, but I’ve never beaten eggs with my fingers.

    • Yeah, the whole “cooking with hands” things really surprised me, too. According to Wikipedia, wire whisks were introduced in the 19th century, but it didn’t specify whether it was earlier or later. In any case, these recipes came from 1789, well before then.

      I’ve sometimes used my hands for buttering things like pie/cake pans…and our Thanksgiving turkey. It’s almost always easier. Plus, I think it’s kinda fun to get messy every now and then!

  2. (-: The things one finds on YouTube. When I have a little more time, I’ll take a look. There are so many SCA (society for creative anachronism?) people out there who are dedicated to doing certain things the way it would have been done “back then” — whenever their special time period was. I think we do lose some important and simple skills. (-: Slow simmering over a fire just isn’t economical on a stove top, for example. (But on my kerosene stove in the living room, we could kill two birds with one stone — or should I say roast two birds with one fire?)

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