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Georgian Kitchen Foods
By the 18th Century cooking in wealthier households had become more sophisticated. While the bulk of dishes were still cooked on open fires or spit roasted, the introduction of the metal grate, and later in the century metal hobs, which were built into fireplaces, made boiling and stewing easier.
Separate small brick built ranges burning charcoal were used to cook sauces and fried dishes. By the third quarter of the century, the very first simple kitchen ranges with a cast iron oven on one side and a boiler for heating water on the other were the cutting edge of kitchen technology.
The cast iron oven with the brick inner lining gave more control over baking. French influences meant that what were termed 'made up' dishes now entered English cuisine.The introduction of the pudding cloth for boiled puddings, both sweet and savoury, was a great step forward and very popular. There was also the introduction of the wooden hoop for cake baking, which made possible the use of a softer, more liquid mix for cakes.
Copper pans had replaced the clay cooking pots and black forged iron skillets and fire place cauldrons, on the new kitchen ranges. Wooden trenchers were no longer used, pewter and silver being the main serving and eating dishes.
By the end of the century the pewter and sometime even the silver was being replaced by the new china dinner and tea services. Chinese porcelain had started the trend, being the ultimate status symbol for the serving of tea from the middle of the 17th Century.
By 1800 no family with any aspersions to gentility or the upper classes was without its full china service, sometimes specially commissioned in English or French porcelain.
The Georgian Era dates between 1714 and 1830 The later Georgian dinner table was by 1800 very colourful with its porcelain hand painted, dinner service and mirror plateaux. These had become very fashionable by the mid 18th Century.
Starting out with elaborate 'parterres' - formal garden patterns. Made of marizpan, coloured sugar or sand and decorated with white sugar paste figures. Moving on as the century progressed to elaborate tableaux featuring cottages, temples and landscapes in barley sugar, sugar paste or wax. Then moving from sugar paste, early figurines were made in biscuit - unglazed white porcelain.
Before long these gave way to coloured decorated porcelain coming from famous factories, both in England and abroad, including Minton, Sevres and Meissen. This type of centrepeice not only reflected light from the table candles but held small individual sweetmeat dishes. Made in silver or decorated china, one for each guest containing small bowls of flowers, sometimes fresh, some in wax or sugar paste.
These later evolved into the small ceramic posy bowls which eventually, along with the china figurines, moved from the table to Victorian mantlepieces, and 'What nots'. When the table fashion moved on, larger central flower arrangements became popular for upper class dining. Although the elaborate centre decorations were still popular for grand Royal dinners and State Occasions.
One plateaux used by the Prince of Wales in 1811 ran the whole length of the tables set for 200 people. In 1817, at a banquet again for the Prince Regent, the famous French Chef Anton Careme created a "Tableaux en Plateaux" which included the ruins of Antioch, a Syrian Hermitage, a Turkish Mosque and a Chinese Hermitage. Careme, used a variety of materials to construct these pieces from lumps of lard, to spun sugar.