LUNCH, OR LUNCHEON, IS A RELATIVE NEW comer to Britain. It’s first recorded at the end of the eighteenth century: a tumultuous time with Britain and other European countries allied against the newly established French First Republic and the country militarized and heavily taxed. In a more domestic context, mealtimes were in a state of flux, with dinner gradually moving from midafternoon to around 8:00 p.m. for the upper classes. Given that breakfast was generally around 9:00 a.m., it was a long time to go without eating, and while what would later become afternoon tea could fill some gaps, it was hardly a substantial repast.
The meal itself was a hot one, though the dishes tended to be simple and were often based on leftovers or used pantry items. In keeping with its feminine overtones, as well as its place as a less important meal than dinner, the food was light and, especially after the Great War, was the most likely place to find dishes based on eggs and salad, both very easy to prepare. Unlike dinner, with its many courses and complicated cutlery etiquette, lunch was sometimes served buffet-style, with dishes laid on the table for people to help themselves. That meant fewer servants were required—useful if you are planning to host a Downton-style lunch yourself. At Downton Abbey itself, footmen are generally on hand to serve, but even there, when the financial situation is at its most dire and the number of staff reduced,
I was wondering if I ... might try to take her out of herself. Perhaps give a little lunch party, nothing formal. Just Lady Grantham and the girls.
~ SEASON 3, EPISODE 6
© 2019 All rights reserved. Published by Weldon Owen.