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Elegant Dining and Entertaining in the Victorian Era

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Elegant Dining and Entertaining in the Victorian Era

Daytime Program

Noon Lecture/Seminar

Friday, December 4, 2020 - 12:00 p.m. to 1:15 p.m. ET
Code: 1H0543
This program is part of our
Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
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  • This program is part of our Smithsonian Associates Streaming series.
  • Platform: Zoom
  • Online registration is required.
  • If you register multiple individuals, you will be asked to supply individual names and email addresses so they can receive a Zoom link email. Please note that if there is a change in program schedule or a cancellation, we will notify you via email, and it will be your responsibility to notify other registrants in your group.

The Victorian era was a time of calling cards and letters of introduction; starched collars and corsets; croquet and garden parties; and afternoon teas, cotillions, and fancy-dress balls.  But the dinner party established the era’s reputation for elaborate excess.

Food historian Francine Segan provides a glimpse into the etiquette of these affairs, from the art of the invitation to accepted behavior upon arrival at an event. She highlights the foods on the menu, from oysters and turtle soup to myriad courses featuring fish, fowl, palate-cleansing sorbets, and an abundance of rich desserts. Unlike today, drinks and hors d'oeuvres were part of the meal, served only after all were seated. The evening ended as guests were presented with small finger bowls filled with water garnished with flower petals before they moved on to coffee and post-prandial libations.

It was often a breathtaking affair, especially for many of those corseted ladies.

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