They Ate Well…..

March 1, 2016

IMG_4936 (1)It’s 1749, and England’s harvests have never been more robust. Peasants and noblemen alike had more than enough to eat. Here’s Daniel Defoe, writing in 1709:

Every single person living at the common rate of plenty in England… consumes in food two quarters of wheat, four quarters of barley, five quarters of peas or beans green, a bullock, six sheep, two calves, and a hog, and a hundred pound of butter, or cheese, or milk, in a year; besides fowls, fish, fruit, and garden-stuff.

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With the lower classes so well provided for, the British aristocracy began looking to new cuisines to assert their superior tastes. Little wonder, then, that French food soon captivated the court.

Lorna J. Sass pinpoints this fertile culinary moment in her cookbook Dinner With Tom Jones, loosely inspired by the gourmet world of Fielding’s epic eight-volume novel. Here are eighteenth-century recipes adapted for the contemporary cook, ranging from humble British classics (hot water pastry meat pies) to delightful approximations of fashionable French fare.IMG_4932

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