In the Time of Banquets
By Madeline Hunter, author of A Devil of a Duke
Today, the word “banquet” conjures up images of wedding parties and conference meals. The large number of people in atten- dance puts an understandable strain on the kitchen and service staff; there is a reason wedding invitations request the selection of the main course ahead of time. Imagine preparing for such an event without modern ovens, when a whole array of food—perhaps forty dishes or so—would be placed on the table at the same time.
During the Regency period, banquets were common. Yet, even at a dinner party for twenty people, fteen to twenty separate foods might be presented at once.
Two of the most famous banquets during the Regency were hosted by the crown prince who later became King George IV. Famous for his excesses in all areas of life, he did not stint when hosting. In 1811, he entertained two thousand people at Carlton House. The four hundred most important guests sat with him at table. The others ate from buffet tables set up in the gardens. That number would challenge today’s caterers!
It was common during the Regency and early Victorian periods for this food to be served à la française. All the dishes in a given course were placed on the table at once in a careful symmetrical arrangement. A course was not what we think of today, but a full table with various meats and side dishes in glorious display, and there were usually at least two courses. Guests were not expected to eat from every dish, but rather to choose what appealed to them.
Gentlemen would serve themselves from the dish nearest and offer some to the ladies beside them. Then dishes were passed around the table. By 1880 in Britain, service à la russe became standard; cuisine would be presented one dish at a time.
At dinner parties and banquets, guests sat according to the preferred order for royalty, nobility, government of cials, and the aristocracy. When a party went “down to dinner” (the drawing room being on the rst oor and the dining room on the ground oor), they did so in order of pre- cedence: the males lined up by importance and escorted the females, who lined up that way as well.
These meals were the pleasure of the upper class. The average middle-class family ate much more simply. Banquets could only be hosted by the very wealthy, if for no other reason than they required a lot of space.
About A DEVIL OF A DUKE
He May Be A Devil
He’s infamous, debaucherous, and known all over town for his complete disregard for scandal, and positively irresistible seductions. Gabriel St. James, Duke of Langford, is obscenely wealthy, jaw-droppingly handsome, and used to getting exactly what he wants. Until his attention is utterly captured by a woman who refuses to tell him her name, but can’t help surrendering to his touch . . .
But She’s No Angel Either . . .
Amanda Waverly is living two lives—one respectable existence as secretary to an upstanding lady, and one far more dangerous battle of wits—and willpower—with the devilish Duke. Langford may be the most tempting man she’s ever met, but Amanda’s got her hands full trying to escape the world of high-society crime into which she was born. And if he figures out who she really is, their sizzling passion will suddenly boil over into a much higher stakes affair . . .
About the Author
Since the debut of her first romance novel in 2000, Madeline Hunter’s books have been translated into twelve languages, with more than six million copies in print. She is a two-time RITA Award winner who has had twenty-three titles on the USA Today bestseller list. Madeline holds a PhD in Art History and lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two sons. Visit her on the web at MadelineHunter.com. Visit her on the social media platforms below.