Friday, July 5, 2013

A Ball-Supper

We've all read of the lobster patties eaten at the suppers provided at balls. Sometimes it seems that the only item of food is the lobster patty. But period cookery books show that the food for the ball supper was taken very seriously, and was extensive.

The plate below is from The Housekeeper's Instructor of 1805. I am not sure why it indicates a 'ball supper for twenty people'. Certainly the amount of food shown would provide for many more people than twenty.
A few items are unfamiliar. The 'marangles' listed seem to be present day meringues; here is a recipe from the same book:
The 'galanteen' is a veal dish, a spicy savory:
 In the first plate, 'desert' is displayed in the lower part of the illustration. Below is another illustration of confectionary for the ball supper. This plate comes from The Complete Confectioner of 1819.
A book titled The Practical Confectioner, published in 1822, apparently has complete bills of fare for ball-suppers. I've not been able to locate a copy of this book; I'd love to have a look at it.
The above mention and review is from The Monthly Review for 1822.

Almost every cookery book had mentions of dishes for ball-suppers, or, how a dish might be tweaked for presentation at such an entertainment. The Complete System of Cookery from 1816 offered such an adjustment:
Of course, not everyone had a ball room. If you had to hire a venue for your ball, you might also need to hire the food preparation. An advertisement in The Cheltenham Guide of the early 1800's offers:
Next time my characters are at a ball and feeling rather peckish, they will be eating fricandeau and marangles rather than lobster patties!

'Til next time,
Lesley-Anne

Addendum, 2013/10/30:

I have just come across this menu for a ball supper for forty people. It comes from The New London Family Cook, a book from 1808:

4 comments:

Ella Quinn - Romance Novelist said...

I make good use of lobster patties and champagne, but make sure to mention other delicacies. Great post. I tweeted.

Anne Gallagher said...

Thanks for another great post. I never would have thought that "marangles" were meringues. It's also nice to know that lobster patties weren't the only thing that was eaten at a ball.

Charlotte Brentwood said...

Thank you for such a helpful and interesting post. I will be updating the ball scene in my WIP accordingly :-)

Lesley-Anne McLeod said...

I'm glad you all enjoyed the post. I was delighted to find so much information about the ball suppers. I certainly would like to see that book "The Practical Confectioner" though.