Thursday, March 26, 2015

Spring 2015 Dining Room Display at the C. 1801 Riversdale House Museum, Maryland


The menu for this spring's seasonal dining room display was based on the book, A Complete System of Cookery . . . Containing Bills of Fare for Every Day of the Year, by John Simpson (cook to the Marquis of Buckingham. London: 1806. This is one of my favorite references because a complete and detailed menu with recipes is given for each and every day of the year. I looked at the menus for the very end of March and beginning of April to create this menu for the Riversdale display:


The spring dining room display was accordingly inspired by seasonal foods that would have been both available and fashionable with the landed classes in Maryland such as the Calverts, the family who built  Riversdale in the early 1800s. (Click here to read all about the Rosalie Stier Calvert, the owner of Riversdale House Museum and her family.) For example, ham, greens, asparagus, turnips, carrots, cabbage, potatoes, and custard cream would have all been food items available in the early spring in Maryland.

Importantly, this meal display shows a first course in the French service (meaning food was served family style in 2-3 broad courses). Soup almost always accompanied a first course in this style. The soup chosen for this meal is called "Spring Soup" and consists of using young turnips and carrots in this recipe for Soup Sant'e:

Recipe from Simpson, referenced above.

At the top of the first course of the meal, the soup would be served from the tureen and then the tureen would be replaced with a "remove" of another dish; in this case, there is a roll of roasted beef waiting on the sideboard to take the place of the removed soup tureen.

The roasted beef and potatoes are waiting on the sideboard to replace the "removed" soup tureen.

Additionally, each place at the table is set in the traditional historic manner of placing a bread roll inside each person's napkin, presumably to be kept warm until dinnertime.

The bulges in the napkins are the bread rolls.

Riversdale House Museum is located at 4811 Riverdale Rd. in Riverdale Park, Md 20737. They are open Friday and Sunday afternoons for tours.

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