While searching for information on afternoon teas, I stumbled across Mrs. Beeton’s picnic menu for forty. It’s a little overwhelming unless you’re a historic caterer. I decided to post it on my blog in case any of my characters were ambitious enough to throw such a picnic. Also included are menus for a ball and wedding breakfast.
Yikes! Hasty author’s note: When I originally posted this article, I stated that Beeton’s book was published in 1866 as listed on Google Books. Upon closer examination, I realized that no date was listed on the actual text. I searched on the famous author’s bibliography and quickly learned that Isabella Beeton had died in 1865. I knew she had led a short life, but I never knew the actual dates of her birth and death. This book may have been published after her passing. This is an interesting tidbit about Mrs. Beeton on the PBS site “The Secret Life of Isabella Beeton.”
“Isabella died at the age of 28 after giving birth to her fourth child in January of 1865. Her death is officially attributed to puerperal fever, an acute type of septicemia usually caused by an unsanitary environment. She was buried at West Norwood Cemetery in the London borough of Lambeth.
Samuel Beeton and subsequent publishers kept the news of Isabella’s death quiet, and continued to publish updates to Household Management, as well as completely new books, under her name.”
The illustrations in this post can be found in La Mode Illustrée 1866
Bill of Fare for a Picnic for 40 Persons.
A joint of cold roast beef, a joint of cold boiled beef, 2 ribs of lamb, 2 shoulders of lamb, 4 roast fowls, 2 roast ducks, 1 ham, 1 tongue, 2 veal-and-ham pies, 2 pigeon pies, 6 medium-sized lobsters, 1 piece of collared calf‘s head, 18 lettuces, 6 baskets of salad, 6 cucumbers.
Stewed fruit well sweetened, and put into glass bottles well corked; 3 or 4 dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit, 2 dozen fruit turnovers, 4 dozen cheesecakes, 2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds, 2 blancmanges in moulds, a few jam puffs, 1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good), a few baskets of fresh fruit, 3 dozen plain biscuits, a piece of cheese, 6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea), 4 quartern loaves of household bread, 3 dozen rolls, 6 loaves of tin bread (for tea), 2 plain plum cakes, 2 pound cakes, 2 sponge cakes, a tin of mixed biscuits, 1/2 lb. of tea. Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.
Things not to be forgotten at a Picnic.
A stick of horseradish, a bottle of mint-sauce well corked, a bottle of salad dressing, a bottle of vinegar, made mustard, pepper, salt, good oil, and pounded sugar. If it can be managed, take a little ice. It is scarcely necessary to say that plates, tumblers, wine-glasses, knives, forks, and spoons, must not be forgotten ; as also teacups and saucers, 3 or 4 teapots, some lump sugar, and milk, if this last-named article cannot be obtained in the neighbourhood. Take 3 corkscrews.
Beverages.—3 dozen quart bottles of ale, packed in hampers; gingerbeer, soda-water, and lemonade, of each 2 dozen bottles; 6 bottles of sherry, 6 bottles of claret, champagne a discretion, and any other light wine that may be preferred, and 2 bottles of brandy. Water can usually be obtained so it is useless to take it.
Author’s note: After publishing this blog, I realized that the only date