…-BUT/I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!” Closing lines of “The King’s Breakfast” by A.A. Milne (1924-5).
Image: Kew Palace, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
From: An Economic History of the English Garden (2019), by Roderick Floud:
“In the week before Christmas 1783, King George III and his household of about 250 people dined well on the produce of the royal kitchen gardens. Apart from the meat, fish and bread that made up most of their diet, they consumed 60,000 asparagus spears, 20,000 French beans, 32 baskets of pears, 13 of apples and 6 of grapes, 236 lemons and 27 ‘salads’ (lettuce) – all of them out of season. There was also a range of root vegetables, including 419 lb of potatoes and 17 bunches of carrots, together with 112 cabbages, 16 heads of celery, and chestnuts and currants. Oddly, the royal chaplains seem to have been largely responsible for consuming 122 heads of endive. On Christmas Day itself, there was a special treat of a pineapple and 18 home-grown oranges for ‘their majesties’ table’.
…The unusual feature of the royal Christmas feast was that, despite there being four kitchen gardens, at Kensington, Richmond, Hampton Court and Kew, there was only one pineapple – since many head gardeners prided themselves on producing large numbers of the fruit…
…the system of kitchen gardens that fed the royal family and their household was expensive and inefficient; Joseph Carpenter and Henry Wise complained about it as far back as 1717…the Inquiry into the Management, Superintendence and Expenditure of the Royal Gardens…in 1837, finally got to grips with the situation…
…Kew would supply fruit and vegetables in the spring and summer, Windsor, with its peach houses, vineries and pineapple pits, in the autumn and winter. The other kitchen gardens should be closed…After several years of discussion, the main recommendations were accepted, but it was decided to concentrate the work of the kitchen gardens on an entirely new site at Frogmore, near Windsor.”
French food blogger Florence Richomme wrote at thelocal.fr on 18.12.19:
“The 12 dishes that make up a classic French Christmas feast
In general, December 24th is the big day in France, and the tradition here includes a late night feast once people return from midnight mass.
The feast is called “Le Reveillon”, meaning “awakening” or “wake up”, because it normally goes on until the early hours of the morning.”
Richomme includes in her list of the 12 classics:
The French love scallops as they are very delicate and luxurious. The done thing is to present them in their shells or briefly fry them and dress with a sauce.
One of the favourite ways of preparing them is with an orange cream sauce and braised endives with honey…”