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Spring 1865

Savory Suppers And Fashionable FeastsSavory Suppers And Fashionable Feasts

Dining Victorian America

Susan Williams

Narrated by Lesley Ann Fogle

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Tennessee Press

Savory Suppers and Fashionable Feasts offers a delightfully flavorful tour of dining in America during the second half of the nineteenth century. Susan Williams investigates the manners and morals of that era by looking at its eating customs and cooking methods. As she reveals, genteel dining became an increasingly important means of achieving social stability during a period when Americans were facing significant changes on a variety of fronts—social, cultural, intellectual, technological, and demographic.

Focusing on the rapidly expanding middle class, Williams not only examines mealtime rituals, but she looks at the material culture of Victorian dining: the furniture, the furnishings, and the growing array of accouterments—from asparagus tongs to sardine servers and lace doilies—that supported genteel expectations for table side behavior. She also explores changing ideas about meals—how they fit into the daily schedule and what kinds of food and drink came to characterize specific meals and menus. Complementing Williams’ analysis and descriptions is a lavish array of illustrations, as well as a rich sampling of recipes from the diaries and cookbooks of the era. The result is at once an informative look at life in Victorian America and a sumptuous celebration of a key moment in the country’s culinary experience.

Susan Williams is assistant professor of history at Fitchburg State College in Massachusetts.


“This lively and informative volume gives a good general picture of the eat ing patterns of the middle and upper classes in late 19th-century America. Separate chapters are devoted to "The Victorian Middle Class," "Etiquette of the Table," "Dining Rooms and Their Furnishings," and "Fashions in Food and Drink." The book concludes with a discussion of typical menus and a selec tion of period recipes. With its many choice quotations and entertaining anecdotes, this well-written book should appeal to a wide audience. Highly recommend.”

Library Journal

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University Press Audiobooks