April 13, 2015

Struth! Tuck into the Prince's 100 Guinea Dinner

IN his continuing search for the more weird, wacky and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says that after Prince Albert (husband of Queen Victoria) had hosted a slap-up dinner in London for all of England's Lord Mayors in 1850 to promote his pet project, The Great Exhibition to be held the following year, his guests reciprocated his hospitality with a bash of their own from their public purses.

Quickly becoming known as the 100 Guinea Dinner (in today's terms around AU$11,800) it cost just under half a guinea a head – almost the equivalent of the-then average weekly wage – with close to half the 240 guests being the Lord Mayors and their spouses.

Held in the City of York, famous expatriate French chef Alexis Soyer was brought in from London to whip up their grand repast – at a time when the Great Famine in Ireland was claiming thousands weekly through starvation.

Chef Soyer's menu required no less than 400 woodcocks, 100 snipes, 45 partridges, 36 quails and 36 pigeons, 24 capons and 18 poulardes (roosters and chickens de-sexed to improve quality and flavour,) 20 pheasants, 16 regular fowls and 18 turkeys, 10 grouse, 6 plovers, 6 larks and the heads and fins of five turtles.

It took a whole day to cook and was offered from silver platters garnished with crayfish, truffles, American asparagus, croustades, sweetbreads, mushrooms, French minced fish dumplings, olives, green mangoes, cocks combs and Chef Soyer's secret-recipe "New Sauce."

And it ended with dessert of compote of pear served with bananas, raisins, melons and muscats…

Wonder why we don't get that at the club?



[] PRINCE Albert at the Royal Table for his 100 Guinea Dinner in York in 1850 – almost hidden by the bizarre over-the-top table decorations. (Contemporary newspaper sketch)

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