References to food appear throughout Austen's works—from gruel to syllabub to the many components of a wedding feast.
In these short videos, created for JASNA's 2020 AGM, food historian and JASNA member Dan Macey shines a light on some of the foods in Austen's real and fictional worlds.
Mr. Woodhouse’s advocacy for gruel was not as misplaced as one might think. While gruel was indeed thought of as a health food and prescribed for many ailments in Austen's day, there were many varieties and forms. It was far tastier than the version many probably imagine: a thin, greyish blob of soggy oats. Learn how your dinner guests might gleefully gush over a nice basin of gruel! Be sure to read Dan's blog post introducing this video. Recipes included.
Syllabub is a sweet, frothy alcoholic dessert drink wildly popular in Jane Austen's time. She even referred to it in Lesley Castle, a story from her juvenilia. What exactly made syllabub so popular among her contemporaries? Watch the video to learn a bit more about the drink, how it was made in Austen's time, and why it fell out of favor—but never should have. Don't miss Dan's blog post introducing this video. Recipes included.
Some would argue that there is nothing better than eating leftovers. In Austen’s Lesley Castle, however, Charlotte Lutterell worries just how she is going to dispose of all the food that was prepared for her sister’s wedding, which was canceled after the groom was thrown from a horse and later died. A virtual menu of some of the wedding foods listed in this hilarious story will be discussed as representative of typical banquet foods of an emerging affluent gentry class. A selection of period recipes for the wedding fare shown at this program will be provided. Read Dan's blog post introducing this video.
Dan Macey is the president of the Historic Foodways Society of the Delaware Valley in Philadelphia, which aims to keep culinary history alive. He has presented a variety of food history programs and demonstrations, including the recreation of an authentic regency era banquet to benefit Chawton House Library. He also writes about food history and was nominated for a national food writing award for penning a piece about mutton in Emma. He has contributed to a number of food history books, including the James Beard awarding winning The Oxford Companion to Cheese. He works as a professional, commercial food stylist, making food look beautiful for the camera. He is an enthusiastic Life Member of JASNA.