Menus were largely
determined by what was in season and readily available. Country estates such as
These tasty fruits were made into dishes such as orange jelly, plum pudding, raspberry soufflé and ‘d’artois of apricot’ (dainty sugared pastries filled with apricot jam). When hothouse fruits were not available, simple recipes allowed for imitations: one early 19th century recipe explains how to make apples taste like pineapples by storing them in deal box! Walnuts were also grown at Emo, making their way into walnut cakes and other recipes. Salad items such as lettuce, cress, cucumber and spring onions also graced the table. Tomatoes, often called ‘love-apples’, were not eaten raw until the end of the 19th century, although they began to appear in recipes in the late 18th century.
Game-store at Emo
Meat was also readily available on the estate, where large herds of cattle, sheep and deer were kept, along with pigs and fowl. Thus, prime beef, veal, mutton, bacon and chicken all made their way into the Emo kitchen, along with fish freshly caught from the lake, or brought by carriage or train from the coast. Pheasants and rabbits were reared in great numbers, while large herds of fallow deer provided ample supplies of venison. Gentleman’s shoots brought in enough freshly killed game to feed a small army. At one shoot at Emo in 1861 the game bag included 56 pheasants, 35 woodcocks, 70 rabbits and 15 hares. One can only surmise that the dinner menu at Emo over the following days consisted strongly of rabbit and pheasant. Luckily, the Victorians liked strong-tasting game, so much of this bag would have been strung up and stored in the game-house to be consumed up to several weeks later.
Hooks for hanging meat in the game-store at Emo
What was not
available on the estate could be bought from local grocery stores such as Mathews’
in Portarlington or from travelling tradesmen such as ‘the tay
man’. Other supplies such as wine and fresh fish were brought in from
Fine wines would
also have been imported from