The Victorian period saw the development of the railways which meant that out-of-season produce could be easily transported to other places. This meant new dishes and ingredients, particularly among wealthier households. The most important ingredients used in Victorian meals were beef, pork, poultry, bacon, eggs, bread, potatoes, cheese, milk, vegetables in season, flour, sugar, jams and tea.
Devilled kidneys was once a classic Victorian British breakfast dish, though its strong, spicy flavours have meant it has fallen out of fashion. It uses lamb's kidneys, cayenne pepper, Tabasco, mustard and Worcestershire sauce, and the kidneys are served on toast. Other popular breakfast foods were bacon, fish cakes, curried eggs, omelettes, muffins and toast with jam or marmalade. Tea was also served.
Lunch would usually be a smaller meal than dinner time, with meat and fish being the main options, particularly game, various types of bird, ham sandwiches and oysters, crab and salmon for wealthier people. Schools did not provide lunch in the Victorian era, therefore children would take cheese and pickle sandwiches, ham hock or another cold meat, boiled egg and ginger bread.
The tradition of afternoon tea was introduced in the 17th century but became fashionable among the upper classes in the Victorian era. A pot of freshly brewed tea with scones, clotted cream and thinly sliced cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off were usually served between 4 and 5 p.m. Biscuits, pastries, cake and rolls with butter or preserves were also offered.
Dinner for the upper classes consisted of many courses, often including oysters, soup, a fish course, meat course, salad and dessert. Meats were roasted and two vegetables side dishes would accompany them. Pickles and jellies were also typical. Pork, beef, turkey and fowl were commonly eaten. Dessert would consist of fruit or sponge cake and preserved fruit. Lower classes would have to contend with just meat and potatoes or vegetables.
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- The Guardian: Devilled Kidneys On Toast Recipe; Cass Titcombe, Patrick Clayton-Malone and Dominic Lake; 2010
- Shugborough: A Victorian Lunchbox
- Civil Shepherd: Victorian Breakfast Etiquette
- The Victorianist: Victorian Ladies Who Lunch, Or: Luncheaon Places and Tea Rooms for Ladies:; 2011
- Historic UK: Afternoon Tea