Our 30th episode! Hard to believe we started in March, 2019 at episode 1! In this episode of Food History Happy Hour, we made the Pink Garter cocktail from 1946 and discussed all things wedding food! We started off with WWII rationing and wedding cakes, moved into 19th century wedding breakfasts, why they were called "breakfasts," and the types of food served, including the Medieval origins of wedding cakes, which were originally (and sometimes still are) fruitcake! Then we moved onto trends in cake design, the influence of Queen Victoria on fashionable weddings, and launched into a discussion of famous literary weddings (including Laura Ingalls Wilder and Meg March from Little Women) which then devolved into an (attempted) discussion of what was served at Miss Havisham's wedding breakfast.
In earnest pursuit of Anna Katherine's request to know what was at Miss Havisham's wedding breakfast, I could find no official reference. The original text only refers to the bride's cake and an epergne filled with something cobwebby and rotting. Almost certainly fruit if, like Elizabeth theorized, Miss Havisham's wedding had taken place in the 1810s.
I did, however, find an etiquette book from 1834 that had this to say about weddings:
"The breakfast should be supplied by a first rate confectioner and the table should be as beautiful as flowers plate glass and china can make it. The ordinary menu of a wedding breakfast is as follows. Tea, coffee, wines, cold game and poultry, lobster salads, chicken and fish à la Mayonnaise, hams, tongues, potted meats, game pies, savory jellies, Italian creams, ices, and cold sweets of every description."
So lots of meat, seafood, and sweets, all served cold. I can only imagine what rotting lobster or fish smelled like in Miss Havisham's house. Yuck.
And while I wasn't able to find an actual menu from Queen Victoria and Prince Albert's wedding, I did find a clip from the show Anna Katherine was referring to!
The Pink Garter (1946)
Tonight's cocktail came from perennial favorite The Roving Bartender by Bill Kelly, published in 1946. This was a very straightforward, very delicious drink. Super simple, but surprisingly complex-tasting. If you like raspberry lemonade, this drink will be right up your alley. If sweet drinks are not your thing, cut down on the grenadine, or up the gin ratio. It calls for:
1/3 ounce lemon juice
1/3 ounce grenadine
1 ounce dry gin
Shake with ice and strain into a martini glass. I garnished mine with a maraschino cherry for extra pizazz.
Still looking for more wedding food history? You can watch my illustrated talk as recorded recently for a library lecture!
That's all for this month's Food History Happy Hour! I've got a TON of talks coming up in June, so be sure to check out the events calendar, and we'll see you at the next Food History Happy Hour on June 18th!
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Sarah Wassberg Johnson has an MA in Public History from the University at Albany and studies early 20th century food history.