Monday, August 15, 2016

Elizabethan Table Etiquette

"More polite in eating than the French, devouring less bread, but more meat, which they roast in perfection..."

Paul Hentzner, who was in England at the end of the reign of Elizabeth I, remarks of the people whom he saw that "they are more polite in eating than the French, devouring less bread, but more meat, which they roast in perfection. They put a good deal of sugar in their drink."

In his "Court and Country," 1618, Nicholas Breton gives an instructive account of the strict rules which were drawn up for observance in great households at that time, and says that the gentlemen who attended on great lords and ladies had enough to do to carry these orders out. 

Not a trencher must be laid or a napkin folded awry; not a dish misplaced; not a capon carved or a rabbit unlaced contrary to the usual practice; not a glass filled or a cup uncovered save at the appointed moment: everybody must stand, speak, and look according to regulation. –  William Carew Hazlitt's, “Old Cookery Books and Ancient Cuisine.”

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