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The English Savoury Course



The savoury is a course that comes near the end of the meal, after the sweet but before what in Britain is called the dessert (which is usually fruit and nuts as opposed to pastries, puddings and the like which are part of the sweet course). Typically, savouries are salty, spicy or sharp. Cheese straws or ramekins, smoked fish, mushrooms, almost anything on toast are components of classic savouries. The article looks at why this is a peculiarly British preference, its origins in the later Victorian era and its gradual eclipse after the Second World War.
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The English Savoury Course
Paul Freedman & Joshua Evans
To cite this article: Paul Freedman & Joshua Evans (2020): The English Savoury Course, Global
Food History, DOI: 10.1080/20549547.2020.1821423
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Published online: 23 Sep 2020.
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The English Savoury Course
Paul Freedman
and Joshua Evans
Department of History, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA;
School of Geography and the Environment,
University of Oxford, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
The savoury is a course that comes near the end of the meal, after
the sweet but before what in Britain is called the dessert (which is
usually fruit and nuts as opposed to pastries, puddings and the like
which are part of the sweet course). Typically, savouries are salty,
spicy or sharp. Cheese straws or ramekins, smoked sh, mushrooms,
almost anything on toast are components of classic savouries. The
article looks at why this is a peculiarly British preference, its origins
in the later Victorian era and its gradual eclipse after the Second
World War.
Received 30 December 2019
Accepted 6 September 2020
Savoury; British Food;
Victorian cuisine; menus
The savoury is a small salty or piquant course served at the end of a meal. Savouries are
peculiarly English, never really popular even in Scotland, Wales or Ireland, let alone the
rest of the world. Classic examples are Scotch woodcock (scrambled eggs on toast spread
with anchovy paste), cheese puffs or fritters, devils on horseback (prunes or other dried
fruit wrapped in bacon) and angels on horseback (oysters wrapped in bacon). Many
savories are on toast (en croûte) or served as canapés (bread trimmed of crusts, toasted or
fried). Presented after what in Britain is called the sweet or pudding, the savoury marks
a contrasting conclusion.
Savouries were at the height of their popularity between about
1870 and the Second World War. After wartime privations and postwar austerity, they
experienced something of a silver age in the 1950s. The mid-1960s, the era of “Swinging
London,” Mary Quant and the early Beatles, saw the erosion of British food customs in
the context of a cosmopolitan rejection of stuffy tradition. Eventually this meant the near-
extinction of savouries. In what follows we undertake to describe the century of the
savoury’s growth, efflorescence and decline in terms of social as well as gastronomic
practices and fashions.
The savoury is important as a marker of English culinary distinction. Beginning as
a variation on the much older practice of mixing sweet and non-sweet dishes in a final
course, it emerges in the mid-Victorian era as a paradoxical close to a dinner because it
comes after the sweet course, otherwise generally regarded as constituting the finale. As
with many seemingly age-old food traditions, the savoury is not of ancient lineage any
more than is fish-and-chips, both invented at the same relatively recent time.
It is also
significant as an innovation that did not catch on internationally, unlike fish and chips,
afternoon tea or orange marmalade with breakfast toast. Every nation and society favors
CONTACT Paul Freedman Department of History, Yale University, New Haven, CT
© 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group
certain foods that others reject. Despite the success of the United States in exporting all
manner of fast foods, Americans’ love of peanut butter is not widely shared. Few outside
of Canada and the United States care for maple syrup either. Such attachments become
defiant, slightly self-mocking badges of pride.
The savoury, however, was never a shared English habit or infatuation because it was
identified with the upper classes. Not exclusively the property of wealthy or aristocratic
households as it had a solid upper-middle class footing, but never adopted below the level
of the comfortably well-off. Without being exclusively masculine in the way that cigars or
port drinking were, the savoury was thought to appeal to men, offsetting or complement-
ing the long-standing association of women and sweets. At dinners served at home,
women partook of savories, but these delicacies were associated particularly with male
societies such as London clubs. The savoury in England is thus a ubiquitous gastronomic
affectation, but a somewhat elusive one that is worth looking at more closely, especially as
it is ignored in standard histories of British food.
Once having described how and why savouries appeared when they did, we will look at
their blossoming season as evidenced by cookbooks, both general and those devoted
specifically to savouries. The article will also consider restaurants, logically, but more
particularly several largely male settings: clubs, Oxford and Cambridge Colleges, Livery
Companies and legal societies (Inns of Court). We rely primarily on menus preserved by
such societies. Such documents have not been considered vital historical records and so
their haphazard retention depended on some thoughtful and meticulous archivist. For
a sense of the social context and common attitudes toward the peculiar course, we also
cite literary and journalistic mentions.
The Appeal of the Savoury
The savoury course was an English passion, but occasionally it turns up in elite Imperial
circles, especially in Canada, India and Australia, a reminder of home for colonial
governing elites. For formal occasions, the Toronto Club, the National Club (also in
Toronto) or the Melbourne Club might extend their service to include a savoury.
Canadian private households aspiring to a degree of pretension adopted this custom.
In Robertson Davies’s social comedy Tempest-Tost, set in the late 1940s in a Canadian
provincial town, Mrs. Bridgetower routinely serves soup, entrée, sweet and savoury,
adhering to the ceremonies and cuisine that prevailed before the First War when she
was newly married. Mrs. Bridgetower’s timid son Solly cautiously broaches the topic of
his participation in an amateur production of The Tempest over a meal of soup (unspe-
cified), pork tenderloin, floating island and finally prunes wrapped in fried bacon (i.e.
devils on horseback).
Savouries had a certain presence in British India, as can be seen from an extraordinary
book published in the 1880s by “Wyvern,” a pseudonym of Colonel Arthur Robert
Kenney-Herbert. His deceptively titled Culinary Jottings for Madras is in fact a long
series of recipes, including a chapter on savoury toasts. Wyvern considered savouries
a thrifty use of leftover food, useful when guests drop in unexpectedly, although pine-
apple toast and the like were appropriate for full dinners as savoury entremêts, an
anomalous non-sweet contribution to a final course otherwise consisting of puddings
and pastries.
In the United States, even in Anglophile settings such as men’s clubs, a separate
savoury course was unknown. Americans encountering savories in England found
them curious, almost inexplicable.
In 1938, the wife of a visiting American professor
in Exeter, remarked dismissively that the savoury course could serve no purpose other
than giving more work for the maids of the household.
In France, the savoury was regarded as an example of execrable English taste. As
Agnes Jekyll remarked in one of her Kitchen Essays devoted to savories, the French
consider a supernumerary course following the sweet “barbarous, even immoral.”
Saulnier’s authoritative Répertoire de la Cuisine includes 52 savouries, but the author
recommends they be “radically suppressed,” saying they are included only because the
English and Americans remain faithful to them.
The eminent chef Jacques Pépin recalls
that working at the Hotel Plaza Athénée in Paris during the 1950s he often prepared
Welsh rarebit, marrow toasts and Scotch woodcock for the delectation of English guests.
During what we are calling its golden age, 1870–1940, the savoury became a culinary
form of distinction, but it had not been from time immemorial a separate course. What is
age-old is the presence of non-sweet as well as sugary dishes at the end of the meal. The
nineteenth-century innovation was, in separating out the former, thus creating a service
after the sweet, diminishing its size, recapitulating the hors d’oeuvre and providing
a spicy, sharp or salty – one might say an umami – taste.
It is not uncommon to follow up pastry or pudding with something that is not sweet,
cheese and crackers, for example. This preference is conventionally supposed to be a male
attribute, men being reputed to prefer strong-flavored to sweet tastes which are (con-
ventionally) typified as female. The notion that women are particularly fond of sweets is
the oldest gendered idea of taste proclivities, antedating by centuries more modern
suppositions such as a female fondness for salads and light food generally.
It is doubtful
that men really are indifferent to sweets, but even if this were to be the case, it would not
explain the particular evolution of savouries or their geographically limited popularity.
Perhaps it is best to see in the savoury a refined form of gluttony, quite unnecessary,
even slightly perverse, but delightful for just that reason. A book about London’s
celebrated restaurant The Ivy notes that it still serves savouries, that they are not all
that popular, but certain customers like them for the “anchoring gravitas” they provide,
complementing the frivolity of the sweet.
Frivolity or gravitas, the key to the savoury’s
attraction would seem to be its sharp flavor in contrast to sweets and to the smooth, bland
tastes of Victorian dining generally. After oysters, soup, fish, roast meat, entrées with
buttery sauces, game and a sweet course, the savoury had a piquant allure.
The beginning of the reign of this culinary oddity is chronologically clear even if its
raison d’être is not. The savoury can be discerned in embryo in the typical early-
nineteenth century final-course juxtaposition of sweet pastries and puddings with
items such as vegetables, or macaroni. Starting around 1850, one or two non-sugary
dishes occasionally appear by themselves on the menu, below the sweet course. Although
they are not at this juncture listed under a specific rubric of “savoury,” this is the point of
In 1877, Mrs. de Salis published Savouries à la Mode, the first cookbook devoted
exclusively to this innovation, responding, she said, to an obvious need, “savoury dishes
at the present time being so fashionable.”
By 1886, the author of Savouries and Sweets
Suitable for Luncheons and Dinners could define savories as the “piquant little dishes that
are now so universally served at dinner between ‘the sweets’ and ‘the dessert’.”
were taken for granted by the end of the century as seen in a passage in the 1897 novel
Phroso by Anthony Hope (more renowned as the author of The Prisoner of Zenda).
Dining at a restaurant, the narrator and a friend are surprised to see the former’s fiancée
and her mother enter, the young woman exclaiming when she recognizes them, “Why
how early you two have dined . . . you’re at the savoury aren’t you? We’ve only just
By 1925, the authors of The Gentle Art of Cookery could describe the savoury as
a British institution that had persevered over the recent troublesome times.
In 1935,
echoing Mrs. de Salis, Dorothy Allhusen remarked in a brief foreword to Unusual
Savouries that “in these cocktail days, when savouries are so much in demand, I feel
that another book devoted entirely to this subject may be welcome.”
The status of the
savoury was kept up at dinners Winston Churchill gave for Roosevelt and Stalin at the
Tehran Conference (1943), and for Truman and Stalin at the postwar Potsdam
Conference (1945). A gourmand attentive to symbolic overtones of meals, Churchill
provided cheese soufflé and Scotch woodcock to conclude these dinners.
The savoury
was revived in the 1950s, and even now it persists in a few clubs and Oxford and
Cambridge colleges, although more often as an alternative to the sweet course rather
than to follow it.
The Gradual End to the Meal
The savoury course is one of several ways of drawing out the final stages of a meal. The
pleasures of an elegant dinner, both gastronomic and conversational, encourage its
prolongation. Diners might remain at the table after the sweet was finished to partake
of nuts, fruit, cheese and dessert wines. Satiated, the company could relax the level of
formality, allowing unforced discussion and reflection.
Eating fruit and small sweet items to finish a meal is a venerable European tradition. In
the Old French romance Perceval, the hero is given a magnificent repast at the mysterious
Grail Castle. The author, Chrétien de Troyes (ca. 1135-ca. 1185), one of the outstanding
literary figures of the Middle Ages, assures the reader that what was presented was
worthy of any king or emperor, although the only meat specified is peppered haunch of
venison cooked in its fat. At the end of the repast, Perceval and his host remain at the
table to converse, consuming dates, figs, pears and pomegranates along with nutmegs
(probably cut up and sugared), and medicinal digestifs such as gingerbread, syrup of
camphor, and spiced sweet wines.
Pre-modern meals included a final course referred to as the issue or “finish,” usually
pastries, custards and fruit. Cookbooks differ as to what extent savoury dishes mingle
with sweet ones in this last service. While the sixteenth-century Le Livre fort excellent de
cuysine offers almost exclusively fruit, sweets and cheeses to conclude the meal, the
menus in the late-fourteenth century Le Ménagier de Paris feature issues of eels, capon
pies and venison interspersed with flans, pastries and sweet wafers.
Offering sweet and
savoury dishes simultaneously seems alien to us, although it is still a feature of the more
elaborate sort of afternoon tea at which scones and cakes are served alongside cucumber
sandwiches and potted shrimp. It is also typical of elaborate brunch buffets.
The invention of the savoury is connected with changes in what comes after the main
courses. English dining innovations of the Victorian era included dividing the sweet from
a succeeding “dessert” of fruit and nuts; drinking coffee after the sweet and dessert or
with the dessert; and a cheese course that might appear in the French manner before the
sweet, or after the table was cleared. The word “dessert,” derived from the French
deservir, originally meant simply to clear the table. In English (as opposed to
American) usage, dessert means small items served after the main sweet course of
pastries, puddings and the like. In an etiquette and household book of 1737 entitled
The Whole Duty of Women or An Infallible Guide to the Fair Sex, dessert appears after the
table is “well cleared,” the top tablecloth removed along with the leather lying between
the upper and lower table cloth, leaving only the latter. On that are placed fruit and
“sweetmeats,” both dried and in glasses.
Alternatively, all coverings could be removed
for dessert in order to show off the mahogany table.
Coffee was introduced into Britain in the seventeenth century and coffeehouses
became fashionable places to read the papers, converse, and exchange news.
As is well-
known, the first joint stock company, the first insurance partnership, Lloyds, and the
learned Royal Society were formed in London coffeehouses. By the nineteenth century,
but not much earlier, coffee was served at the end of meals. In the United States it became
common for coffee to accompany the sweet course (“dessert” in American usage), but in
upper-class Britain, as on the continent, coffee came after both the sweet and the
(English) dessert.
Serving cheese is an additional way to extend the meal. In nineteenth-century France,
cheese accompanied fruits and compotes for dessert. Only in the twentieth century did it
start to appear with or after salad but always before the sweet course.
Cheese is the
principal ingredient of many savouries – cheese fritters, Welsh rarebit, various forms of
cheese on toast, cheese straws and macaroni with cheese.
Yet another nineteenth-century facet of meal prolongation was dessert wine, espe-
cially port. In the eighteenth century, port had been a strong red wine comparable to
Burgundy and drunk all day long. Dr. Johnson claimed that he usually polished off
three bottles of port a day and much preferred it to Bordeaux wines – “claret is the
liquor for boys; port for men.”
By the mid-nineteenth century, port had been
transformed into a fortified sweet wine. Instead of being imbibed throughout the
meal, it was now reserved for after dinner, accompanied by nuts and small sweet
items or cheese, particularly Stilton. There was some grumbling about serving cheese
with port; that anything more assertive than walnuts did not merit a rare vintage. If you
were not going to take the port seriously, then an ordinary, non-vintage “cheese port”
would suffice.
In Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, the villainous lawyer
Mr. Tulkinghorn orders a meal from a nearby restaurant to be served in his chambers.
After dinner, he goes down to a cellar below Lincoln’s Inn Fields and selects a fifty-year
old bottle of port to enjoy while sitting by an open window, observing the swirling,
gritty fog that permeates the entire novel.
In more convivial settings, the conventional conclusion to dining in company was for
the women to leave the table about ten minutes after dessert was brought in, allowing the
men to drink port, smoke cigars and converse in an unconstrained manner. After
a further fifteen or twenty minutes, the host would suggest getting up from the table to
join the ladies in the drawing room. Both parties might already have been served coffee,
but if not, it was brought to the reassembled company in the drawing room.
custom of ladies withdrawing did not meet with universal approbation, the female author
of one etiquette book referring to the “dreary interregnum” during which the women
aimlessly talk about children while the men drink their wine.
Cheese course, coffee, port . . . these early-nineteenth century novelties created if not
a logical place for the savoury course, at least a series of events opening the way for it. The
key development for all forms of extending the meal, however, is the transition from
French to Russian service.
The former has dishes set out on the table before diners sit
down; the latter is the succession of courses familiar to us now. French service provided
only two or three courses in the sense of clearing the table and beginning again, but each
course displayed a large number of dishes, while Russian service allowed for a dozen or
more separate courses offered one after the other. The last of the total of two or three
courses according to the French plan included sweet and non-sweet items placed on the
table at the same time. By contrast, the long sequence of Russian service, allowed space
for one or more sweet presentations and at least the possibility of an additional and
concluding savoury course on its own.
Russian service is less dazzling in its initial impression and requires more dining-room
staff than French. An advantage over French style is that the food is more likely to be hot
because it is brought out after everyone is seated and in many stages. Because dishes were
presented by servants, Russian service avoided the sometimes unseemly scramble for the
different foods set out all over the table. French service was simultaneously ostentatious,
convivial and disorderly, appropriate for the habits of the ancien regime. Russian service
was suited to the hegemony of the upper bourgeoisie as it was decorous, almost
lugubriously so.
The innovation was supposedly brought to France by Russians military officers and
diplomats during the post-Napoleonic allied occupation of Paris. Whatever its actual
origins, the new style was slowly adopted between 1820 and 1870. The best-known
English cookbook of the late nineteenth century, that of Mrs. Beeton (first published in
1861), offered dozens of model dinners intended still to be presented à la française. For
the largest, set for 18, she even diagrams where on the table the food served for each of
three courses should be placed. Two exceptional meals are designated à la Russe, one for
July and one for November, each consisting of 14 courses.
A standard late-nineteenth century menu at a moderately luxurious level consisted of
multiple courses in the Russian fashion. It might begin with oysters followed by hors
d’oeuvres, soup, fish, a relevé (or “joint”), roast meat, entrées (meaning a dish of cut-up
meat or fish with sauce), a game-birds course (sometimes, confusingly, entitled “roast”),
and then sweet entremêts (as the sweet course was called) and finally dessert consisting of
nuts and fruit. Cold dishes might be inserted somewhere during the repast and a sorbet
might appear after the entrées to cleanse the palate. Given such a proliferation of
successive courses and dishes, a separate savoury was an inconspicuous addition.
Russian service merely facilitates the savoury, however, rather than being a direct
cause, given that while the Russian model became universally adopted in Europe, the
savoury course was an English oddity.
The Transitional Phase, 1840-1877
Insofar as there is a single reason for the invention of the savoury, it probably has to do
with dividing into separate courses what previously in the era of French service had been
combined as sweet and non-sweet entremêts. Xavier Marcel Boulestin (1878–1943),
owner of a renowned eponymous restaurant still in St. James, cogently observed in
a cookbook of savouries and hors d’oeuvres: “Formerly entremets included sweets and
puddings, but also vegetables and dishes with mushrooms, bacon or cheese as their
In 1846, Charles Francatelli’s The Modern Cook gives dozens of bills of fare grouped by
month. Francatelli, an Englishman born of Italian parents, was chef at Crockford’s Club
and briefly to the Queen. The menus present a conservative, modified French service with
only two designated courses, although with de facto sub-courses within them. The
entremêts for a typical summer meal juxtapose sweet dishes such as German apricot
tarts or almond gauffres filled with strawberries and cream with stuffed cucumbers and
darne of salmon with Montpellier butter. For December, a suggested menu lists Bavarian
raspberry cream and Florentines with greengage jam alongside mushroom croûtes. Here
and in some other model menus, Francatelli’s non-sweet entremêts are identical to the
savories of the future, but in other cases they are things like spinach, new potatoes or
scalloped crayfish that could appear elsewhere in a meal.
For some of her model menus, Mrs. Beeton imagines a third course mingling pastries
and puddings with game, fondue and other savoury dishes. She followed the example of
Francatelli in organizing menus by the time of year. Thus, a February dinner for 18
concluded with wild ducks, plovers, fondue, but accompanied by Nesselrode pudding,
jellies, and the small cheese tarts known as “Maids of Honour.” The last course for
a March repast, again for 18, mingled ducklings, guinea fowls, lobster salad, meringues,
orange jelly and Charlotte à la Parisienne.
Since these meals were presented according
to French service, we can imagine that an individual diner might limit himself or herself
to one kind of concluding dish, partaking of either fondue or Nesselrode pudding, but
not both.
Francatelli and Beeton offered theoretical menus with some indication of the nascent
savoury. In the 1850s, before Mrs. Beeton and just a few years after Francatelli’s cook-
book, Catherine Dickens, wife of the celebrated writer, published some answers to the
question posed by the title, What Shall We Have for Dinner?
Writing as “Lady
Clutterbuck,” Mrs. Dickens offered bills of fare for company ranging from two to
eighteen. While these amount to the same kind of idealized menus proposed by
Francatelli and Beeton, one can assume that Catherine Dickens served real meals as
recorded here.
At one of her dinners for two or three people, the third and final course consisted of
just one dish, which could be sweet (cold mince pies; raspberry jam sandwiches) or
savoury (bloaters, macaroni, toasted cheese with watercress). The great man was fond of
small sharp things like toasted cheese or macaroni with cheese, and his wife’s menus
reflect his tastes.
For four or more people, Catherine Dickens’s dinners might put
savouries alongside sweets, as was conventional, but she also sometimes separates them.
A dinner for six or seven concludes with cold lemon pudding and bloaters served
simultaneously. One for eight to ten people, however, distinguishes sweets (Devonshire
cream, raspberry and currant tart and cabinet pudding) from a final course, a savoury of
dressed crab.
Whether accompanying dessert or served alone, there are 31 savories in
Mrs. Dickens menus, although they are never described or entitled as such.
Another early example of an actual meal with a final savoury course is a dinner given
in 1862 by Benjamin Disraeli for the Emperor Napoleon III. Following the Francatelli
and Beeton pattern, the final entremêts consisted of sweets such as cherry cake and a vol-
au-vent with raspberries and currants, but also lobster salad. Below this on the menu, in
an unnamed category by itself, were Talmouses au Parmesan (a talmouse is a pastry like
a turnover).
Perhaps an anticlimax, certainly unheralded, but here in 1862 the savoury
had arrived.
The Golden Age of Savouries
From 1870 to 1940, savouries were ubiquitous and expected for gracious meals. The
compendium of Mrs. de Salis can be taken to indicate, as she says in the introduction,
that savouries were by that time fashionable, distinct as a course, and went under that
Not all gourmands approved of the savoury. George Augustus Sala, a prolific journal-
ist, food writer and clubman, denounced savouries for spoiling the taste of dessert.
Writing in 1885 he exclaimed: “How on earth can you enjoy the exquisite flavor of
peaches and grapes and pineapples, or good sound British apples, when your tongue has
only a minute or two previously been excited by cayenne pepper or curry power, or some
other condiment used in confecting these confounded savouries?” He traced the
unseemly vogue for savouries to the eighteenth-century libertine habit of eating deviled
bones and toast in order to stimulate the desire for more wine. For the current civilized
age, in which moderation prevails, savouries have no appropriate place. Nevertheless,
because they are so popular with his friends, Sala reluctantly served them as he was
unwilling to lay down rules that others were unlikely to obey.
Interestingly, Sala blames the fashion for savouries on women: “I know perfectly well,
however, that when a lady has made up her mind to anything, that the thing has got to be
done; and so I have carefully selected some recipes for savouries.”
Sala is almost alone in
attributing to women the desire for savouries as the consensus has always been that it is
a quintessentially male preference.
Seventy-five years later, Rupert Croft-Cooke was as mystified as Sala by the popularity
of the savoury. Under the pen name Leo Bruce, Croft-Cooke was the author of
a moderately popular series of mystery stories in the gentleman-detective tradition of
Dorothy Sayers’s Lord Peter Wimsey.
Despite what one might infer from the title, his
English Cooking: A New Approach (1960) is a defense of traditional cuisine against the
degraded modern version of English food. The lamented regression dates as far back as
the heavy meals of the late Victorians, but has been accelerated by such twentieth-century
developments as the decline in domestic service, foreign travel, television, mass produc-
tion and science.
One might expect a writer with such a choleric, if humorous, take on postwar
barbarism to have been an advocate for the savoury as an endangered tradition, but,
in fact, Croft-Cooke considered it a folly. Against Mrs. Beeton’s assertion that such
dishes prepare the palate for the wines that come after dinner, Croft-Cooke notes that
on no account should port, sherry or Madeira be drunk after sampling piquant
During the years of the savoury’s popularity, such voices of dissent were ineffectively
crying in the wilderness. The individual savouries comprising the standard dossier did
not vary greatly once a certain ordering of canonical dishes was established by the 1880s.
It would be difficult if not impossible to present a list of all the dishes placed at one time
or another under the savouries rubric. In 1877, Mrs. De Salis offered 144 of them.
her recipes, however, one can categorize savouries according to what would become an
accepted taxonomy:
Cheese savouries (straws, ramekins, soufflés)
Mushroom savouries (stuffed, au gratin, scallops)
Egg savouries (with curry, Parmesan, brown butter)
Shrimp and lobster savouries (gratins, creams)
Canapés and croûtes (anchovies, lobster, caviar, etc. served on fried or toasted bread)
By the opening of the Great War in 1914, savouries regularly appeared at formal
dinners, especially but by no means exclusively at clubs and other upper-class men’s
associations. Looking back from 1960, Rupert Croft-Cooke identified 15 “classic inter-
war” savouries:
Welsh rarebit
Scotch woodcock
Scrambled egg and anchovy
Soft herring roes (i.e. herring milt) on toast
Cheese fritters
Creamed prawns or haddock on toast
Anchovy toast
Minced kipper or bloater on toast
Mushrooms on toast
Macaroni cheese
Sardines on toast
Minced ham on toast
Cheese straws
Angels on horseback
Devils on horseback
As Croft-Coke was unenthusiastic about savouries, this list may represent more an
impression than careful consideration, but the repertoire is, nevertheless, compatible
with actual interwar compendia such as Boulestin and Adair’s Savouries and Hors
d’Oeuvre of 1932 and Dorothy Allhusen’s Unusual Savouries of 1935.
The latter, its
title notwithstanding, includes all the standard items as well as some creative ideas.
Savouries in Several Settings, 1870-1940
Savouries enjoyed a mild popularity in middle-class home cooking during the late-
nineteenth and early-twentieth century. The invaluable British Library newspaper data-
base shows that the word “savoury” was most often used simply to mean flavorful, and
that even when a recipe was given for what was specified with an indefinite article as
a savoury, it might be intended for tea or supper, as with a deviled ham savuory,
described in the Courier and Advertiser of Dundee as “a supper dish that is usually very
much appreciated by the menfolk.”
Haddock savoury is appropriate for supper or high
tea, according to the Press and Journal in Aberdeen during the war.
The true home of the savoury course was the upper-class male association. Dining at
private clubs and club-like institutions such as Oxford and Cambridge colleges, City
livery companies and the London legal associations (Inns of Court) involved a range of
savouries that appealed to a largely or exclusively male membership.
London Clubs
Clustered around Pall Mall and St. James, the gentleman’s clubs reached the height of
their prestige from 1850 to 1914, the Victorian and Edwardian heyday of the British
They were a cultural manifestation enabled by a powerful economy that
produced sufficient wealth for a substantial number of men to be exempt from working
at a paying job, or at least working very hard. Some of the oldest London clubs such as
Boodle’s, White’s and Brooks’s were aristocratic, but most clubs catered to urban gentle-
men rather than landed nobility.
From their beginnings in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a prime attraction
of clubs was that they offered a sociable form of dining. Writing in 1866, the chronicler of
club life John Timbs quoted “our elegant essayist” [i.e. John Addison, writing in The
Spectator] as observing that “All celebrated clubs were founded upon eating and
The savoury course did not originate in the august West End clubs, but
found a stable place in these establishments, persisting beyond the time of its disappear-
ance from most other locales. In 1974, during the twilight of the savoury, Robin
McDouall in Clubland Cooking noted that “By tradition, clubs specialize in savouries”
such as Welsh rarebit, devils on horseback, angels on horseback, beignets soué (eggs and
Gruyère) and canapés Windsor (ham and mushrooms on toast-rounds).
McDouall was
Secretary of the Travelers Club, to this day an exclusively male association, and although
he did not specifically exclude women’s clubs, his assumption is that clubs are for men
and that their food is masculine.
Unenthusiastic about savouries, he regarded the
French custom of cheese before pudding as “more sensible,” but acknowledged that
any book about club food must have a chapter on savouries.
Clubs tend to be deliberately conservative, providing shelter from the demands of
modern life, from change in general and social change (including gastronomy) in
particular. As Anthony Lejeune observed:
A good club should be a refuge from the vulgarity of the outside
world, a reassuringly fixed point, the echo of a more civilized
way of living, a place where . . . people still prefer a silver salt
cellar which doesn’t pour to a plastic one that does.
Similarly, Bernard Darwin remarked that “About clubs and their members there is
a static or immutable quality very soothing to the spirits.”
The survival of elegant dishes
such as game or savories, forgotten by the outside world, has provided similar assurance.
No one would claim that socially well-connected men represented the nation as
a whole, but club menus provide an accurate picture of elite dining and the durable, if
hardly immortal, forms of English taste. Clubs are more focused than restaurants on
a peculiar combination of ostentation and simplicity. Eschewing novelty, twentieth-
century favorites at Boodle’s, one of the most distinguished London clubs, read like
a catalog of almost comical upper-class taste: jugged hare, salmis of game, deviled
kidneys, curried beef, veal and ham pie, pheasant, grouse, woodcock, snipe and savouries
such as Welsh rarebit and beef marrow bones.
At clubs the halcyon days of the savoury began in the 1880s. Savage Club menus dating
from this decade show the beginning of the distinct savoury course. Founded in 1857 by
George Augustus Sala and his circle from the Crown Tavern in Drury Lane, the Savage
Club was popular with artists, writers and other self-identified “Bohemians.”
The club
moved around until 1888 when it established itself in Adelphi Terrace and embraced
haut bourgeois norms. For a meal in 1882, the second-to-last course of mixed entremêts
consisted of sweets: Maraschino jelly, vanilla cream, and apricot glacé, and savouries:
cheese straws and mushrooms à la Bordelaise. The very last service was of ices (crême au
café and eau d’orange). Two menus from 1888, however, specify a separate savoury
course: macaroni au gratin and anchovy toast, in both cases followed by what amounts
to a second savoury, cheese and celery. Anchovy toast followed by cheese and celery also
concludes an 1889 meal and another dinner from that same year ends with deviled
sardines on toast followed by cheese and salad.
From the 1890s to 1939, interrupted only by the stringencies of the Great War,
savouries were routine at London clubs. A savoury is included on almost every one of
300 menu cards for the Atheneum Club between 1891 and 1913. Although it had
a reputation for serving mediocre food, perhaps because its members were disproportio-
nately intellectuals who might be thought to be indifferent to gastronomy, the Atheneum
offered elaborate meals that look quite distinguished, at least on paper. For the period
1891 to 1897 there are forty menus with twenty-two different savouries, including soft
roes on toast, cheese ramequins and several different foie gras preparations. Fifty meals
are recorded on menu cards from 1904 to 1905 and among the ten kinds of savouries
mentioned, the most commonly served were croûtes à la Baron (beef marrow, grilled
mushrooms and bacon), and Parmesan cheese straws. For fifty meals described from
1911 to 1913, the most common savories are croûtes à la Baron and barquettes à la Julie
(barquettes are boat-shaped pastry shells).
Unlike the Atheneum, the Reform Club, with its politically powerful members, was
famous for its gastronomic finesse, the legacy of its chef Alexis Soyer, who during the
early Victorian period, was (it is not too anachronistic to say) a celebrity. A run of 312
menus collected in scrapbooks gives a thorough impression of dining at the Reform Club
from 1904 to 1932.
Of the 132 menus in the first series, 1904–1924, 130 include
savouries. In a second scrapbook, which runs from 1925–1932, approximately two-
thirds of the dinners recorded involved a savoury course. As is usual, the surviving
menus are all from special occasions, no one thinking it worthwhile to save menus for
ordinary meals served in the club “coffee room” (dining room). The occasions, however,
are generally not all that special – private dinners hosted by members rather than
elaborate celebrations.
A striking feature of the early-twentieth century Reform Club menus is how many
different kinds of croûtes (savouries on toast) they display. No less than 46 species
appear, of which only a few, such as fillet de kipper sur croûte or croûte Ivanhoe are
recognizable. The list reads like an exotic catalog, befitting an artisanal perfume company
or an old-fashioned custom pipe tobacco blender. What were croûtes like Lyric,
Hongroise (with paprika?), Nizam (curried?), or Twickenham? An appendix to this
article gives the complete list.
The Garrick Club did not attempt so many variations on a theme, but did have the
distinction of elaborating its own “Garrick Savoury” which first appears in 1905 in
a volume recording special dinners in honor of various notables. Parmesan straws, cheese
ramekins and smoked salmon canapés were also common.
A dinner given for the Lord
Chancellor in 1915 ended with cheese straws. Pace Croft-Cooke, here port was served
simultaneously with the savoury and before coffee.
Cheese savories seem to have been
favored at the Garrick, as with cheese tartlets, served after plum pudding at a 1923 dinner.
Exceptions include caviar in 1880 and herring on toast in 1890.
Oxford and Cambridge Colleges
The two ancient English universities are agglomerations of distinct colleges founded at
different times from the thirteenth century on. These are not only residential units, but
also autonomous societies of faculty and students. Only in the second half of the nine-
teenth century were women’s colleges established, and it was not until 1949 that women
were given access to the previously all-male foundations. Today, not as many faculty
actually live in the colleges as in the past fellows were not allowed to marry until well
into the nineteenth century – but they still take dinner in elegant and imposing settings.
Even the most distinguished colleges were not immune to the vicissitudes of English
cooking, including war and postwar rationing and the prevalence of rather unimaginative
meat and pudding dishes. The older colleges have always had remarkable wine cellars,
buying clarets and ports when they were young and inexpensive and keeping them in
good conditions for decades. Economic circumstances permitting, the food was lavish,
especially during feasts which marked traditional holidays but also specific commemora-
tion of donors or meals for alumni at a “gaudy,” or similar celebration accompanying
what in the United States would be called a reunion.
All Souls College, Oxford, is among the most privileged of the Oxbridge institutions.
The fellows are fully engaged in research and as there are no undergraduates, dinners are
exclusively for faculty and guests. The nature of the meal and number of courses has
varied according to how many fellows were dining on any given evening. The college’s
“menu books” survive in considerable number from 1875 on and it is possible to obtain
from them an idea of what was served at ordinary dinners as opposed to special
celebrations. The savoury as a separate course seems to have been firmly entrenched at
All Souls by 1880. Most of the dinners recorded from September 29 to October 10 in an
undated menu book (from the 1870s or 1880s) conclude with bloaters, a “savoury
omelette” or haddock.
St. John’s College, Cambridge, shows a similar picture of frequent but not required
savoury courses. Here as elsewhere, the menu cards are mostly for festive dinners. Both
a Commemoration lunch and dinner on May 6, 1886 finished with a savoury course of
herring (araingée de mer), and additionally at the dinner, a second savoury of plovers
eggs with shrimp.
It was a tradition to provide swan at solemn occasions, St. John’s
being the only institution besides the royal family allowed this privilege.
An elaborate
dinner just after Christmas in 1894 included cygnets with port sauce as a sixth course
(along with foie gras in aspic), followed by three sweets, and then a savoury of smoked
hake croûtes, and finally dessert. A 1901 dinner given by an alumni association (the
“Johnian Society”) presented nine courses, including sweet and dessert, but rather than
a savoury, the intervening course was cheese and salad. An “Irish Dinner” in 1906,
whose only Irish culinary element seems to be a Pouding à la St. Patrick, presented
Gruyère à la Pluton between the sweets and dessert.
Savoury course offerings con-
tinued during the interwar period. At St. John’s we find tuna à la Tosca in 1922, bonne
bouchés of lobster at a Johnian’s dinner in 1933, and caviar bonne bouchés at a regular
dinner that same year.
The fellows of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, seem to have been particularly
fond of savouries.
Most of the surviving menus are for feasts such as an annual dinner
in commemorating Stephen Perse (1548–1615), a benefactor of the College, or for
boating club events. A Boat Club Fours dinner in 1895 included Chantilly à la
Macédonie (fruit with whipped cream) followed by codfish croûtes and then vanilla ice
cream. The dinner in June 1898 commemorating the 500
anniversary of the foundation,
offered nothing, however, between a sweet of iced Nesselrode pudding and dessert.
A savoury of Parmesan cheese beignets comes after both sweet and dessert at
a celebratory dinner in 1900. The Perse Feast for 1911 finished with a spectacular
alternation of sweets and savouries: plum pudding with Camperdown sauce (brandy
butter, essentially), creamed chestnut purée, iced strawberry soufflé, and then eggs stuffed
with brains, raspberry ice with pistachio sauce, and finally smoked salmon.
There seems to have been no let up at Caius during the interwar period: anchovies in
puff pastry in 1923, fish toasts at the 1924 Annual Gathering, and Parmesan cheese straws
for the Gilbert and Sullivan Society dinner in 1930. The latter is interesting because,
unlike most festive dinners, the menu is relatively simple with only four courses before
the savoury.
Christ Church College, Oxford, has kept dinner menus for Gaudy celebrations from
1891 to the present.
The end of term Gaudy dinners almost always included a savoury
course: canapés à la Minime in 1891, anchovies with cream in 1897, Russian toast in 1907,
Parmesan cheese straws in 1919, and mushroom toast in 1927.
Finally, Trinity College, Cambridge, which has the distinction of preserving the largest
number of menus from any of the college archives we have examined, and many of them,
as with All Souls, for routine Hall dinners rather than special occasions. The Trinity
menus are particularly numerous for the decades between 1890 and 1930, replete with
what are by now mostly familiar savoury types: croûtes, canapés, Parmesan straws and
various cheese creations. The composition of croûtes à l’Alma Mater served in 1891 is
unknown to us, alas.
Livery Companies
Although in general the menus of the City of London livery companies resemble those of
other elite male associations, their treatment of the savoury is distinct as it appears less
frequently as a separate course and is more persistently incorporated into a single service
of entremêts that includes the usual sweets. Livery companies are the descendants of the
medieval guilds, association of crafts such as tailors and goldsmiths and retailers such as
fishmongers and grocers. A few are still in charge of credentialing and training, but
especially for obsolete trades such as fletchers (arrow-makers) or loriners (makers of
horse bridles, bits and spurs), they are social and charitable organizations. The loriners,
for example, are dedicated to the welfare of horses. Membership confers and proves high
social and professional status.
As part of their corporate life, livery companies for centuries have held large banquets
several times a year. These take place either at the Company’s hall, or for the less
privileged groups with no buildings of their own, at the premises of another. The only
halls to have survived both the Great Fire of 1666 and the German bombardment of
London in 1940–1944 are a portion of the Merchant Taylors’ edifice and part of the
Apothecaries’. The large company dinners are catered events since unlike the other
institutions being discussed, the livery companies do not provide dining facilities for
ordinary days. Nevertheless, the menus for their catered dinners, which feature the full
members (livery) and guests, or smaller affairs for the “court” (the inner circle; what
might be considered a board of directors), have features similar to those of clubs and
colleges, including furnishing savouries.
Livery companies were exclusively male societies until quite recently. As far back as
the late Middle Ages, there were occasional female associates who had inherited their
husband’s or father’s business, but the full participation of women only dates from the
last quarter of the twentieth century or the start of this one. 2005 is the date when women
were first admitted to the livery of the Barbers’ Company, for example. A feature of the
cycle of company dinners in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was the Ladies’
Banquet to which wives of members of the livery were invited. In some cases, as with the
Loriners’ Company, the Ladies’ Banquet menus lack savouries while those for the court
or livery do present them. For the Stationers’ Company in the 1890s, however, all
dinners, including those for the ladies, involved a savoury course.
There are currently over 100 “worshipful companies,” as they are known, of which
twelve constitute an ancient prominent category.
Internally, they retain the pre-
modern hierarchy of freemen (roughly corresponding to apprentices), full members
of the livery, and an inner circle forming the Court of Assistants with a Master or
Warden at its head. Grand dinners are given for the election of new members of the
livery, for current members and for the Court. The preservation of menus is
haphazard, but for the companies whose records we have examined, they are fairly
numerous. The larger companies with their own buildings usually retain their
archives while others have deposited their records with the central London
Guildhall Library.
The Worshipful Company of Loriners has the most complete run of menus, from 1901
to 2005.
Not possessing a dining hall, they held their dinners at De Keyser’s Royal Hotel
restaurant until 1919 and then at Butchers’, Carpenters’ and Grocers’ Halls, and in the
1950s at Mansion House, the residence of the Lord Mayor of London. In the 1960s they
were hosted by the Vintners. The savouries served at the Loriner dinners were fairly
standard – roes on toast, croûtes and canapés, angels on horseback. Through the 1960s,
dinners almost always included a savoury. After 1970, the last course was converted to
For the Goldsmiths and Clothworkers, we possess a substantial number of menus
from the second half of the nineteenth century that show the persistence of serving sweet
and savoury entremêts together. Thus, a Clothworkers’ dinner at Mansion House in 1884
offered an entremêt course of seven sweet dishes along with deviled sardines, followed by
dessert. At the Company’s hall in 1875, terrine de foie gras accompanied seven sweets for
a course labeled entremêts and then a final “remove” of Nesselrode pudding, iced soufflés,
caviar and cheese fondue.
Occasionally in the years before the Great War, a savoury was
served at Clothworker dinners in what was becoming standard form, as a course by itself
between the sweet and dessert. For a dinner given to the Court and “friends” on May 6,
1896, croûtes à la moderne came after a final remove of iced soufflés, but the entremêts
that preceded them still featured plovers’ eggs along with fruit salad and cream, Maids of
Honor, and Maraschino jelly.
The quirky standard pattern for this Company, however,
was to have two final courses of sweets, both with some savouries thrown in.
The Goldsmiths eschewed the separate savoury course even more firmly. A court
dinner on February 16, 1887 included entremêts of cream timbales, pineapple jellies, puit
d’amour à la Française (round pastry with a hollowed out stuffed center), and turban de
pêches à la crême (turban-shaped pastry with peaches and whipped cream). This was
succeeded by removes consisting of chocolate bombe, biscuits glazed with maraschino
liqueur, and Astrakhan caviar.
Even after 1918, the savoury does not seem well-
established for the Goldsmiths, although this is partly due to the scant materials dating
from the 1920s. A Goldsmith’s dinner in 1937 and an “amity dinner” combining
Goldsmiths and Fishmongers in 1938 have deviled chicken livers and chicken liver
brochettes respectively as stand-alone courses.
The Carpenters’ Company, like the Loriners’, has a long series of menus, beginning in
1903, but with a gap from 1939 to 1971.
The Carpenters’ dinners for the interwar period
routinely included savouries.
Inns of Court
A final category of private societies that functioned until recently as male clubs is
constituted by the four Inns of Court, set up to train barristers and dating from the late
Middle Ages. England has two kinds of lawyers: solicitors and barristers. The former
deal with civil matters such as contracts and wills. Traditionally a solicitor collaborated
with (“instructed”) a barrister but once a matter reached the point of an impending
trial, only a barrister could appear to advocate for a client in court. The London Inns
of Court train all aspiring barristers for England and Wales, and barristers resident in
London sometimes still have their offices (chambers) in buildings forming part of the
Inns’ grounds. Recent years have seen a loosening of the guild-like role of the Inns of
Court so that students earn some of their credentials elsewhere and the rites of
communal fellowship, including dinners, are no longer as important as they once
Each of the four Inns of Court – Gray’s Inn, Lincoln’s Inn, Middle Temple and Inner
Temple – forms what amounts to a campus with a chapel, dining hall, library and other
appurtenances, resembling an Oxford or Cambridge college without bedrooms. Students
dine with barristers and they are required to partake of a certain number of dinners in
Hall. Such occasions are considered important instruments of socialization because
barristers can act alternately for the prosecution and the defense and members of the
same Inns of Court will not infrequently oppose each other. Dining together creates
a common professional bond that is supposed to outweigh the circumstances of any
single trial.
Communal dining requirements have been substantially whittled down since 2000,
but nevertheless still stand as a mark of a learned fellowship. The dining halls are grand
neo-Gothic spaces modeled on Oxford and Cambridge colleges. As with the other
societies we have looked at, the surviving menus are mostly for particularly festive
dinners such as “Grand Days” described on a recent Inner Temple menu as “the most
prestigious event of the Inn’s calendar that requires White Tie and Decorations or Court
The library, hall and treasury of the Inner Temple were demolished by German bombs
in 1941. The archive survived and its Grand Day menus go back to 1850. The menu for
that first dinner, served à la française, is unusual in that it illustrates the placement of
For the second course, for example, haunch of venison was put at the top,
bottom and middle of the table; two baskets each of plovers’ eggs, crayfish, and prawns
were at either side of the table. The third service did not have any repeats but rather 19
separate plates. Sweet as well as savoury entremêts were placed near each diner so that
those at the bottom right-hand side could reach for glazed ham, turkey poults (young
turkeys) or chicken mayonnaise in aspic, but also meringues and nougat. In 1924 this by-
now old-fashioned mixture of final courses was repeated at a dinner given for visitors
from the American Bar Association, cold lobster à la Muscovite along with bombe glacé à
la Comtesse Marie.
During the interwar years, Inner Temple dinners routinely included
sweet, savoury and dessert. After the restrictions of wartime and postwar, again in the
1950s and 1960s savouries were common, but seem to have gone out of fashion in the
For Lincoln’s Inn, only fourteen menus have been retained, all from the early
twentieth century. Among this small number is an unusual menu for a routine dinner,
February 22, 1922, for which ham croûte was the savoury.
Croûtes of various sorts seem
to have been common, though delices de Camembert appears in 1909 and 1910. One
would like to know what was “croûte Lincoln’s Inn” which is mentioned only once, in
England was slow to develop a restaurant culture. During the first half of the nineteenth
century, there were hundreds of places to consume food, but they had limited offerings
and were not particularly elegant. The Epicure’s Almanack, published in 1815, lists about
650 locations to eat and drink in greater London: taverns, chop-houses, cook-shops, for
Their menus were on the order of one reproduced in the Almanack for the
Telegraph Eating House near Leadenhall Market which features rump steak, boiled beef,
roast mutton, veal and pork, giblet soup and mock turtle soup.
While noble families and West End Clubs incorporated many attributes of French
cuisine and service, only in 1865 with the opening of the Café Royal on Regent Street was
there a public restaurant with a high level of cuisine and style to rival Paris or New York.
By the opening of the twentieth century, London finally had an array of restaurants, many
of them fancy in a raffish way, appealing to a cosmopolitan, Bohemian element of the
monied sort artists, writers, journalists and other habitués of nightlife.
responded to a louche acceptance of men entertaining women they were not, in fact,
married to. Restaurants were both more democratic and more ostentatious than clubs,
and their proliferation was seen as having something to do with a perceived decline of
club life.
One observer in 1909 lamented that men no longer dine at their clubs – “they
go out with their wives, or with the wives of others, to partake of the Restaurant Dinner.”
A more optimistic opinion held that the competition from restaurants had improved the
food served at clubs.
During the zenith of savories, when they were served routinely at clubs and formed
a regular feature of dinners at home, restaurants were less consistently enthusiastic and
diners did not consider the savoury necessary. Ordinary menus do not describe what
customers actually ordered, nevertheless, by 1900 a group of savouries is commonly listed
on restaurant bills of fare and features often in set dinners. The John Johnson Collection
at the Bodleian Library has a fairly extensive collection of late-nineteenth and early-
twentieth century restaurant menus. There are no savouries on two menus for the Savoy
Hotel (1896, 1897) nor for the Ritz (1911, 1914). These famed hotel restaurants, run by
Caesar Ritz and Auguste Escoffier, followed the French model. The Savoy menus have
a dessert course of fruit while the Ritz concludes with patisserie, but neither has any hint
of a savoury.
The fashionable but less firmly Francophile Café Royal replicated private, club and
college menus in presenting savouries as a recognizable although unnamed category.
Under the heading of entremêts in a 1900 bill of fare, we find puddings, meringues,
soufflés and compote, and these are followed by fromages, listing nine kinds of cheese.
Below a line but without a separate heading are seven de facto savories, rendered in
a combination of English and French
Ivanhoe Toast
Petit Canapé à la Café Royal
Fondues au Parmesan
Canapé Mirabeau
Soufflé Fromage
Champignons et Moëlle sur Toast (mushrooms and marrow on toast)
Laitance sur Toast (soft roes on toast)
The Hotel Cecil in 1898 offered entremêts and then ice creams. Savories followed
under the heading “Bonnes-Bouches,” all but one being canapés
Canapé de Jambon à l’Indienne (ham, probably with curry and chutney)
Canapé Cecil (the hotel’s specialty)
Canapé Mirabeau
Canapé Ivanhoe
Canapé Diane
Canapé Bressanne
Canapé de crevettes au curry
Tartelette à la Moëlle (marrow tartelette)
Canapé de Caviar
Very useful in evaluating actual meals, as opposed to menu listings, is a guide to
London restaurants put out in 1899 and 1901 by Lieutenant-Colonel Nathaniel
Newnham-Davis. The second edition of 1901 describes dinners at 44 restaurants,
including a Jewish establishment and several raffish eateries in Soho, but mostly
elegant restaurants and hotel dining rooms. The Colonel, usually accompanied by
a female companion, describes each meal, gives his opinion on the courses, often
consults with the maître d’hôtel and sometimes provides recipes furnished by the
chefs, including Escoffier himself for the Ritz and Carlton. Newnham-Davis never
explicitly mentions savouries in his texts. Only nine of his restaurant dinners include
a savoury; most end with a sweet, dessert or “friandises.” At Prince’s Hall in
Piccadilly a hypothetical elaborate dinner (not the more modest one actually con-
sumed by Newnham-Davis) would finish with an ice (“La glace Leda”), a basket of
friandises, canapés Diane, and dessert. Soft roes as a soufflé were featured savories at
Verrey’s in Regent Street and on toast at Dieudonné’s on Ryder Street, St. James. The
Cecil offered canapé Juliette, The Berkeley Hotel, croustade Victoria, the East Room
of the Criterion near Piccadilly Circus diablotins à la Joinville, the Walsingham
House, also in Piccadilly, a paprika soufflé, and the Freemason’s Tavern lists cheese
Another dossier of real restaurant meals is offered by records of a group of twelve
gentlemen who formed “The Seasons’ Club” in 1885. This was a dining society, a club
within a club, as all its members already belonged to the Garrick Club.
The twelve
Seasons’ Club men took the signs of the zodiac as their sobriquets and in the minutes of
the society they are referred to as Capricorn, Gemini, Virgo etc. Occasionally they had
their dinners at the Garrick, but more often at a restaurant in London or its environs. The
minutes of the association record dinners from 1885 to 1903.
The Seasons’ Club dinners show a range of conclusions to the meal similar to
what Newnham-Davis presents. For a dinner at the Garrick toward the end of 1885,
a roast course of pheasant was followed by entremêts: a macedonia of fruit and
lobster au gratin. In early 1886 at the Café Royal, a nine-course meal was more
drawn out: the roast (woodcock), salad, two sweets (fruit timbales with Kirsch and
vanilla soués glacis), cheese and dessert. Most common at restaurants was
a concluding sweet course that might or might not include a non-sweet item,
followed by dessert. A savoury was included at the Tilbury Hotel in Essex where
the Seasons’ company in 1887 partook of a modest sweet course of Champagne jelly
followed by ham toasts, deviled sardines and then dessert. A year later, at the Royal
Forest Hotel in Epping Forest, Champagne jelly was accompanied by fruit tarts and
fancy pastry and then dessert was laid without any intervening savoury. Cheese and
salad came between the sweet and dessert at the Sun Hotel, Kingston-on-Thames, in
the summer of 1888, but at the Café Royal that autumn, chocolate mousse was
succeeded by soft roes on toast and cheese before the concluding dessert. Savouries
were therefore well-represented at the Seasons’ Club dinners ham, mushrooms or
smoked salmon on toast, deviled herring roes, chicken livers but not inevitable.
Postwar Revival
Here we enter the post-classical period in the history of the savoury. Tragedy at Law,
a murder mystery by Cyril Hare, takes place in late 1939 during the so-called “phony war,”
before the German Blitzkrieg rolled over Europe. What is described as a “substantial” four-
course lunch ends with a savoury.
War rationing put an end to most luxury dining and
with limitations on how many courses could be served, the savoury was virtually elimi-
nated. Exceptionally, boat race dinners at St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge, included
savories between 1941 and 1945 egg and anchovy croûtes, egg and kipper croûtes and
stuffed tomatoes are some examples.
At the National Liberal Club, an inner group
formed at the beginning of 1941 during the German aerial bombardment of London
called themselves the “Dog and Duck Circle” and managed a canapé Yorkshire to
conclude their second dinner in February, 1941. Their tenth dinner in December 1941,
offered a final-course choice of (unspecified) sweet or savoury. The Circle continued to
meet after the war ended and savouries were revived beginning in 1951.
It would be logical for the savoury to have persisted during the war as a consolation for
eliminating the sweet course because sugar was stringently controlled. There is no real
evidence that this actually happened, however, except for the clear intention demon-
strated at the visit to St. Catharine’s in October, 1940, of Lord Woolton, the powerful and
energetic Minister for Food. Luncheon was supposed to show how hitherto unexploited
food resources might be mobilized. Whale casserole was served because whale meat was
a by-product of the already-established whale-oil industry. Root forage crops were made
into a vegetable curry, and a sauté of kidney and blood similarly constituted an under-
utilized, theoretically edible option. According to an account of the meal, the reason for
offering a savoury of Scotch woodcock, using powdered eggs, was to suggest alternatives
to the sweet course in order to avoid using sugar.
Another demonstration meal, this time showing off dehydrated ingredients, was
provided at King’s College, Cambridge in 1943 by the chairman of the Food
Investigation Board. According to a report in the Scottish newspaper, the Dundee
Courier and Advertiser, the meal consisted of shepherd’s pie with gravy made from
dehydrated meat, accompanied by vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cabbage), followed by
stewed reconstituted fruit with custard, and a savoury of dehydrated kipper on toast. As
with Lord Woolton’s lunch, the sweet was sacrificed because sugar was severely
Slow recovery from the devastation of war and the end of American Lend-Lease
subsidies meant that the food situation in the late 1940s was even worse than during
the war itself.
At the end of 1945, the only meat available in the House of Commons
dining room was whale or seal steak, “both disgusting” according Aidan Crawley, a Labor
MP. In 1947, even potatoes, bread and dried eggs were on the ration.
We have seen almost no examples of savouries served between 1945 and 1950. Almost
none an exception is a St. Catharine’s College Commemoration Dinner (in honor of
past benefactors) on November 25, 1946 consisting of clear turtle soup, lobster mayon-
naise, roast pheasant (with chipped potatoes and cauliflower), a savarin of raspberries,
and croûte Bana (made with bananas?). From 1947–1949 no savouries are listed for this
annual event. In 1950, cheese straws made an appearance, and savouries were served
regularly through the 1960s.
The Jesus College (Cambridge) Boat Club also managed
to provide a savoury for its race dinners both during and after the war: from sardines à la
Parmesan in 1941 to hake croûtes and sardine beignets in 1946.
The livery companies restored savories in the early 1950s, so, for example, the
Goldsmiths’ Livery Dinner in March, 1952, ended with Croûtes rajah (ham purée with
curry, covered with chutney) and the savoury became common over the course of the
1950s. At least two-thirds of Goldsmiths’ livery and court dinners from 1951–1959
include a savoury, most often devils on horseback.
The Barbers’ Company was late in adopting the savoury course. Its nineteenth-century
menus have only sweet dishes at the end of the meal and this continued up to the mid-
twentieth century. The first savouries served at Barbers’ Company affairs seem to date
from 1960, just when they were starting to fade from many other institutions. On that
occasion, angels on horseback closed out a dinner. Most of the 1960s savouries were
cheese soufflés and small quiches Lorraines. After a meal in 1970 that concluded with
quiche, the savoury went out of fashion, partially replaced by Stilton and celery.
The clubs too experienced a slow recuperation after the war. Even Boodle’s, one of the
most distinguished London clubs, was not immune from privation. Chef Victor
Ceserani, second chef and then head chef at Boodle’s from 1946 to 1950, recalled
donations of game and fish made by generous club members with extensive country
properties. On the premises the resourceful kitchen staff learned to smoke salmon of up
to 14 lbs. and cut up venison carcasses, marinating the haunches in red wine and frying or
grilling the steaks. During a particularly difficult period for procuring food, Ceserani
accepted a beaver on offer from one of his meat suppliers. Pot-roasted and stuffed with
herbs and onions, it was presented at luncheon. Two members ate it without comment,
one rejected it angrily, preferring an “escalope” he assumed was veal but was in fact
thawed imported rabbit. The leftover beaver was minced and made into rissoles for the
Elaborate dinners had been restored at Boodles by 1949, perhaps without very much in
the way of meat, but consisting of many courses, plenty of fish and such typical pre-war
hors d’oeuvres as gulls’ eggs, cod’s roe and potted shrimps. Savouries were once again
routine and included deviled soft roes, Scotch woodcock, anchovies on toast, and Madras
By the late 1950s, however, savouries seem to have become less common at
this particular club. Occasionally egg savouries, deviled kidneys, marrow bones or Welsh
rarebit made cameo appearances, but even at the dinner in 1962 commemorating the
anniversary of the club, nothing was served after vanilla ice bombe with hot cherry
sauce. There were cheese straws, but they accompanied the soup.
Menus for festive dinners at Christ Church, Oxford, show a longer postwar persistence
of the savoury than at Boodle’s, at least for grand dinners such as Gaudies or the annual
Censer’s dinner (the office of censer resembling that of a dean elsewhere). The 1946
Gaudy was, not surprisingly, meager – clear turtle soup, roast chicken with peas and new
potatoes, meringues with whipped cream – but there was also a savoury of small salmon
pastries. For 1947 the menu lists a tomato hors d’oeuvre and a fish course of salmon trout
meunière in addition to more-or-less the same turtle soup, chicken and meringue lineup.
The savoury was mushroom croûtes. The 1953 Gaudy was marked by six courses,
including salmon and saddle of mutton, ending with fried Parmesan pastries (aigrettes
de Parmesan). Thereafter Censer’s dinners and Gaudies include savouries such as mush-
room croûtes, cauliflower au gratin, tartines and cassolettes. The savoury seems to have
faded away in the mid-1970s. Christ Church attempted unsuccessfully to revive the
course in the late 1980s.
The Queen’s 2003 Jubilee was marked with an elaborate
sweet that combined mint mousse with cherries Jubilee, but no savoury.
As with Christ Church, Hertford College, Oxford, was consistent in offering savouries
on its Gaudy menus until the late 1970s. From 1950 until 1973, champignons Bordelaise
was nearly required as a savoury for the Gaudy dinners (most often following fraises
Romaines or gâteau Hertford). A range of savouries, however, typified normal dinners,
including various croûtes, deviled lobster, cheese items, and something referred to as
“gondolas of haddock.”
In Muriel Spark’s novel A Far Cry from Kensington, the narrator Mrs. Hawkins recalls at
some distance her life in 1954, including a dinner at the Savoy concluding with “those
small oblongs of toast with oysters, anchovies and other involvements, called angels on
horseback, which were then more commonly served at the end of a meal than they are
The point of inflection between “then” and “now” was the 1960s. Outside the
conservative milieux of clubs and colleges, the savoury started its eclipse during this
decade. It crops up in various times and places – served on the Mauretania, one of the
great Cunard ocean-liners, in 1962; at the Ivy restaurant in the 1960s, at the Hawes Inn
near Edinburgh in the late 1960s, and at the Hotel Miramar in Bournemouth in the early
What ended the era of the savoury was not postwar dearth but rather overall prosper-
ity and the internationalization of British eating preferences beginning in the late-1950s.
In the decades after 1960, sophisticated dining was Continental, particularly
Mediterranean. Elizabeth David, author of several influential Mediterranean cookbooks,
offered a brightly sunlit world of fresh, light and seasonal joie de vivre and she vigorously
opposed what was regarded as indigestible British food that combined frugal artificiality
with excessive meat, fat and sugar. The fact that the food of the Age of Austerity
(1945–1953) had been skimpy and stodgy, and the slowness of the economic recovery
meant that what was eaten in the UK tout court became to be identified permanently with
canned soup, frozen gâteau, dollops of Marmite or HP Sauce, and by cheery but not very
inviting terms such as “fry up.” Culinary mediocrity imposed by indifference, forgetful-
ness and tasteless affluence rather than by penury was what writers such as Croft-Cooke
aimed to combat by restoring the real food traditions of Britain. In addition to Croft-
Cooke’s English Cooking: A New Approach, an American writer Audrey Alley Gorton
wrote, also in 1960, a book with the spirited title In Defense of British Cooking. Unlike
Croft-Cooke, she was quite happy with savouries, considering them perfectly appropriate
for her campaign and she provided recipes for 13 classic savouries, from caviar pancakes
to cod’s roe on toast.
A few institutions either retained or successfully revived the savoury course in the
twenty-first century. Menus for the Carpenter’s Company end in 1939 but appear again
in the archives beginning in 1971. They show that savouries were common until some-
time the mid-1980s. They still occasionally turn up, though strangely enough before
rather than after the sweet: wild mushroom tartlet for a 2015 Livery Dinner, Scotch
woodcock for another Livery dinner three years later.
The celebrated London restau-
rant St. John always has Welsh rarebit on its menu, listed specifically as a savoury.
Wilton’s, a venerable seafood restaurant, lists five savouries (and suggests a claret or
Burgundy to go with them).
Among colleges, St. John’s, Cambridge, has resisted the decline of savouries more
successfully than most. A May 26, 1995 routine dinner was quite simple – onion soup,
emincé of venison with new potatoes and carrots, and steeped fruits in a jar with natural
yogurt, with devils on horseback to conclude. St. John’s still serves savouries approxi-
mately once a week. Recently ordinary dinners have included devils on horseback, canapé
Cadogan (oysters and spinach with sauce Mornay), canapé Ivanhoe (puréed haddock and
mushroom) and Welsh rarebit.
Magdalene College, Cambridge is not quite as devoted to savouries at ordinary dinner
as St. John’s, but its regular feasts in honor of St. Mary Magdalene show an extraordinary
consistency in the presence of a savoury course from 1946 to the present.
St. Catherine’s College, Oxford, favorite savouries include buck rarebit (Welsh rarebit
with a fried egg, in this case quail eggs are used), smoked haddock and mushroom
croustade and Galmorgan sausage, a vegetarian sausage involving cheese, leeks and
London clubs such as White’s and the Oxford and Cambridge Club offer at least
occasional croûtes, canapés, Scotch woodcock, angels and devils on horseback and Welsh
The Oxford and Cambridge Club menu, however, finds it necessary to explain
what goes into the savouries so they are not assumed to be completely familiar items. The
National Liberal Club menu still lists Welsh rarebit and Scotch woodcock along with
a cheese selection under the heading of savouries.
Perhaps the Company of Brewers, one of the London livery companies, is the most
constant upholder of the savoury. While its archives do not preserve many early menus,
there are over 30 menus for important dinners between 1994 and 2019 that feature
various canapés, rarebit and devils on horseback.
As demonstrated by the institutions just mentioned, the savoury still clings to life as
a familiar gastronomic item even if one not commonly consumed, very much on the
order of pot roast, baked pork and beans or apple pie in the United States. Savouries are
not an ancient English tradition and their popularity in the century or so after 1860 was
encouraged by a class hierarchy as well as gender segregation. Restaurants and home
cooks offered savouries, at least occasionally, but it would be appropriate to say they were
cherished by male (or largely-male) associations of the sort we have examined, clubs,
colleges, livery companies, inns of court.
That the savoury does survive is not just due to archaism or absent-mindedness
because one has the sense that the savoury has been revived rather than simply being
carried over unchanged from an earlier era. A series of beloved if slightly comic English
culinary quirks have re-appeared, sometimes only briefly, as by-products of an effort to
restore insular traditions of dining in an era both of homogenization of global tastes
(pizza and tacos everywhere) and of seasonal and local cuisine. Thus school-food, jellied
eels, high-end afternoon tea have all received media attention and, to the degree that
savories have been rediscovered, they form part of a half-remembered, half-invented
tradition, something more important than might at first appear since such ideas of
previous distinction and greatness form the background for political movements of
surprising vigor (e.g. Brexit), surprising at least to those whose lives center around
Thai restaurants, exotic vacations, finance careers, for example.
A revival of English culinary traditions has been spearheaded by famed chefs such as
Heston Blumenthal at his restaurants The Fat Duck and Dinner. At St. John, Fergus
Henderson has made the rediscovery of British distinctiveness part of a nose-to-tail ethos
of using all the animal parts. While the savoury is not so venerable that it would have
been familiar to Shakespeare or Richard Lionheart, it would benefit from overall recon-
sideration of the actual delights of maligned English culinary traditions.
Notes on contributors
Paul Freedman is a professor in the History Department at Yale University. His fields are the
Middle Ages and the history of food. He is the author of Ten Restaurants That Changed America
(2016) and American Cuisine and How It Got This Way (2019).
Joshua Evans is a Ph.D. student in the School of Geography and the Environment at the University
of Oxford. He received his B.A. from Yale University and an M.Phil. in History and Philosophy of
Science from the University of Cambridge. For four years Josh worked for the Nordic Food Lab in
Denmark. His doctoral research involves fermentation and innovation at three restaurants in
Copenhagen. It is entitled “Endless Convivial Experiments: Domestication and the
Microbiogeography of Hybrid Fermentation Practices.”
1. We use the English term “sweet” rather than the American “dessert” because dessert had
a particular significance in Britain. After the sweet course, which might include pudding,
pastry, jellies and the like, a dessert consisted of fruit and perhaps nuts, but at any rate, not
elaborate confections. If there was a savoury course, it usually came after the sweet and
before the dessert.
2. Walton, Fish and Chips.
3. Davies, Tempest Tost, 38–42.
4. Kenney-Herbert, Culinary Jottings for Madras, 222–33; 410, 413, 419, 474.
5. It seems impossible to figure out where the Merchant’s Club was located. The menu is held
by the New York Public Library and is number 34157 on the website “What’s on the Menu”
created by the Library. The Waldorf Astoria menu is number 35305.
6. Halsey, With Malice Toward Some, 26.
7. Jekyll, Kitchen Essays, 226. Originally published 1922.
8. Gringoire and Saulnier, Le Répertoire de la cuisine, xiv, 239–240.
9. Communication from Chef Pépin, July 15, 2020.
10. Woloson, Refined Tastes, 90. See also Freedman, Ten Restaurants That Changed America,
11. Gill, The Ivy, 196.
12. Salis, Savories à la Mode, vi.
13. The author was Mary L. Allen, known as Macaire Allen, Savories and Sweets, prefatory note, ii.
14. Hope, Phroso, 6.
15. Lloyd and Hartley, The Gentle Art of Cookery.
16. Allhusen, Unusual Savories, vii.
17. Stelzer, Dinner with Churchill, 103, 138.
18. de Troyes, Le conte du Graal (Perceval), 373 c, 3568–59; 373d, 3309–3330.
19. Flandrin, Arranging the Meal, 70.
20. Quinzo, Dessert, 78.
21. Broomfield, Food and Cooking, 108.
22. On sociability and the coffeehouse, Cowan, The Social Life of Coee.
23. Flandrin, Arranging the Meal, 88–89.
24. Bradford, The Englishman’s Wine, 43, 56–57. On how port became identified as “the
Englishman’s wine” as against claret, Luddington, The Politics of Wine in Britain, 144–62.
25. Todd, Port, 83: “Cheese (of not too bolshevist a nature) prepares the palate, but cheese is too
violent a preparation for a fine old Port. Very sweet things and highly seasoned things are
out of place.” The identification of vintage port and distinctions among different years
started in the mid-nineteenth century.
26. Dickens, Bleak House, chapter 22.
27. Broomfield, Food and Cooking in Victorian England, p. 131; Thompson, Food and Feeding,
28. A Handbook for Ladies and Gentlemen, 376.
29. Kaufman, “Structuring the Meal,” 123–133; Broomfield, Food and Cooking in Victorian
England, 100–21. The impact of the shift on specifically English restaurants is described in
Burnett, England Eats Out, 142–44.
30. Beeton, Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 953, 955.
31. Boulestin and Adair, Savories and Hors d’Oeuvre.
32. Francatelli, The Modern Cook, 481, 498.
33. Beeton, Beeton’s Book of Household Management, 914, 918.
34. Dickens, What Shall We Have for Dinner? Reprinted with an important introduction in
Rossi-Wilcox, Dinner for Dickens. See also Cox, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Dickens Entertain. In
1858, Charles Dickens separated from his wife, the occasion of considerable rancor and not
a little scandal.
35. Rossi-Wilcox, “Saucing the Dish,” 372–74.
36. What Shall We Have for Dinner? 1, 18, 27, 37.
37. Freeman, Mutton and Oysters, 190.
38. Sala, The Thorough Good Cook, 42.
39. Ibid., 43–44.
40. Perkins, “Rupert Croft-Cooke,” 35–59.
41. Croft-Cooke, English Cooking, 24–25, 189. And yet, Ricket and Thomas, The Gentleman’s
Table Guide, 59, 65 calls for port to be served with angels on horseback, cheese fritters and
deviled finnan haddock.
42. Salis, Savories à la Mode.
43. Croft-Cooke, English Cooking, 90.
44. Boulestin and Adair, Savories and Hors d’Oeuvre; Allhusen, Unusual Savories.
45. “Devilled Ham Savoury,” 11. British Library Database.
46. “Two Savoury Dishes for Supper or High Tea,” 6. British Library Database.
47. On the history of these establishments, Black, A Room of His Own; Milne-Smith, London
Clubland, 25–27; Darwin, British Clubs; Nevill, London Clubs; Lejeune, The Gentlemen’s
Clubs of London.
48. Timbs, Club Life of London, 1.
49. McDouall, Clubland Cooking, 151.
50. Ibid., 86.
51. Lejeune, Gentlemen’s Clubs of London, 19.
52. Darwin, British Clubs, 13.
53. Mann, “Boodle’s Food,” 158–59, 214–18.
54. There are several explanations for how the Savage Club came to have that name, the most
probable of which is that it was to honor the disreputable poet Richard Savage (1697–1743),
object of a famed biography by Samuel Johnson. His exploits included imprisonment for
debt and killing a man in a drunken altercation. Lejeune, The Gentlemen’s Clubs of London,
251; and Halliday, Savage-Club Papers, ix–x.
55. WL, John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, Savage Club, Boxes 1, 2 and 3.
56. ACL, Menu Cards, vol. 1 (1891–1897), vol. 3 (1904–1905), vol. 7, 1911–1913. Heartfelt thanks to
Jennie Protani, Archivist of the Atheneum. On food at the Atheneum, Cowell, The Atheneum Club,
57. RCA, Scrapbook, 1904–1924; Scrapbook 1925–1932. These include menus as well as other
material connected with dinners and events. We are grateful to Dr. Peter M. Urbach,
Archivist, and the Librarian, Simon Blundell, who showed us these and other materials
relating to the Reform Club.
58. GCL, Special Dinners, 1905–1908.
59. GCL, Scrap Book, 1888–1944.
60. GCL, Single Menus.
61. CL, Menu Books 1875–1878, 1879, 1882–1884, 1884–1885, 1894–1895, 1895–1898. We are
grateful to Dr Norma Aubertin-Potter, Clerk to the Archives of All Souls for her advice and
62. SJCL, Menu Cards, Box 1.
63. From the college’s newsletter, The St. Johnian. We acknowledge with gratitude the assistance
of Tracy Deakin, Archivist of St. John’s. The late Dr. P. A. Linehan, Fellow of St. John’s
College, introduced us and showed us an in-house note on the breeding and disposal of
College swans. The right was last exercised in 1986, apparently.
64. SJCL, Menu Cards, Box 1.
65. SJCL, the 1922 menu from Menu Cards Box 1 (which ends 1924) and the 1933 cards from
Box 2.
66. CGA and CCA, Menus. We are grateful to Paul Aste, a student and archival intern at Caius,
who located the menus described in what follows.
67. CCCA. Thanks to Judith Curthoys, Archivist of Christ Church, for her help. The menus are
kept in a section that includes Gaudy and other festive dinners.
68. TCA, menu from December 7, 1891. Again we thank Paul Aste who undertook work in the
Trinity College collections for us.
69. We owe to Professor James Carley of York University in Ontario the connection to the
Barbers’ Company and through them to the other companies discussed in this section.
Victoria West, the Barbers’ Company Archivist, contacted other companies’ archives on our
behalf and we are indebted to her. We thank the Clothworkers’ Archivist Hannah Dunmow,
Deborah Roberts at the Goldsmiths’ Library, and Julie Tancell at Carpenters’.
70. On the London livery companies, Hazlitt, Livery Companies.
71. Loriners’ menus are in GUL, MS 33903, boxes 1 − 9. The “Dinner Book” of the Stationers for
the period 1878–1912 is available through the Library Print Culture site,
01_01/2. Actual menus, tipped into what are otherwise lists of those who attended and
seating plans, run only from 1894–1898 and there are thirteen of them.
72. These are, in order of precedence: Mercers (general dealers in textiles), Grocers (originally
sellers of spices), Drapers (wool cloth merchants and manufacturers), Fishmongers,
Goldsmiths (including silversmithing and money-changing), Skinners (furriers),
Merchant Taylors, Haberdashers (dealers in fine textiles such as silk), Salters (salt mer-
chants), Ironmongers, Vintners, Clothmakers.
73. GUL, MS 33903.
74. WCCA, Menus Box 1, 1859–1874, Box 2, 1875–1886.
75. WCCA, Entertainments Book, 1889–1918 (with tipped-in menus).
76. WCGL, Entertainments 1851–1903.
77. WCGL, Entertainments 1937–1951.
78. WCCAA, Programmes/Menus, Box F/PM/1, Box F/PM/3 and recent uncatalogued menus.
79. WCITA, uncatalogued recent menus, November 6, 2018. Our sincere thanks to Celia
Pilkington, archivist of the Inner Temple, for permission to look at the Society’s menus
and for arranging them for us.
80. WCITA, EVE/27/1, June 3, 1850.
81. WCITA, EVE/28/1, July 22, 1924.
82. WCLIL, Romain Collection: Menus and Related Items, Box III, item 26 c. We are grateful to
Dunstan Speight, Librarian of Lincoln’s Inn, and Megan Dunmall, Archivist, for their help
with these menus.
83. WCLIL, G1B (Dinner to members of the International Law Association, August 3, 1910);
Library, Romain Collection, Box III, 22 (dinner given by the Chancery Bar Lodge of the
Freemasons, July 13, 1909); Box II, 36 (Grand Day, Michaelmas Term, November 18, 1925).
84. Rylance, The Epicure’s Almanack.
85. Ibid., 32.
86. On night life generally, see Walkowitz, Nights Out, 92–143 describes the owners and patrons
of two early twentieth-century Soho Italian restaurants, but says nothing about the food.
The same can be said about Salvoni, Elena, an account of the author’s career at Café Bleu,
Bianchi’s and L’Escargot.
87. A point particularly emphasized by Assael, The London Restaurant, 190–93, and Milne-
Smith, London Clubland, 164. For the Victorian and Edwardian restaurant, in addition to
Assael, Burnett, England Eats Out, 66–102, 151–67.
88. Burnett, England Eats Out, 144; Nevill, London Clubs, 294.
89. WL, John Johnson Collection, Hotel and Restaurant Menus, Box 2.
90. Ibid. 1.
91. Ibid. 1.
92. Newnham-Davis, Dinners and Diners, 70. 125, 158, 202, 206, 308, 324, 346, 351. On this
gastronome, see Broomfield, “Soldier of the Fork,” 46–54.
93. On the impetus to form even more select associations within existing clubs, Black, A Room
of His Own, 53 (the Fox Club formed of members of Brooks’s); p. 55 (the Press Gang within
the Reform).
94. GCL, Club Records 1830–1903, 2006MT-256r (in three volumes).
95. Hare, Tragedy at Law, 22. The menu was filet of sole, lamb cutlets, sweet pancakes and an
“untranslatable savoury,” meaning that it could not be rendered into French as the other
dishes were.
96. SCCA, U/S/6/5, a total of seven menus from June 7, 1941 to March 4, 1944. Thanks to Colin
Higgins, Archivist of St. Catharine’s and to Professor Nora Berend, Fellow of St. Catharine’s.
97. GLL, Dog and Duck Circle Papers. Many thanks to David Langshaw, a member of the
National Liberal Club, for his help with our research.
98. SCCA, COLL/4/Misc, 7–8.
99. “Dehydrated Kipper as Luncheon Savoury,” 3. Accessed via British Library Newspapers database.
100. The American government abruptly stopped Lend-Lease when the newly-elected Labor
government announced a program of nationalizing large sectors of the economy such as
coal and railroads. On food in the postwar period, Kynaston, Austerity Britain, 93–128;
296–324; Cooper, “Snoeck Piquante,” 33–54. A survey of the “hungry novels” of the era is
given by Freeman, “Remembrance of Luncheons Past,” 23–24.
101. Kynaston, Austerity Britain, 105, 246–47, 293.
102. SCCA, COLL/4/Commemoration of Benefactors.
103. JCA, J. C. B. C menus June 7, June 3, 1941, June 15, 1944, November 2, 1946, 1946. The
particularly grim year 1947 saw no savoury served at the Lent Races dinner, March 1, 1947.
Thanks to Paul Aste who examined the Jesus College Archive for us.
104. GOL, Entertainments 1952–1959.
105. WCBA, uncatalogued menus.
106. Ceserani, Catering for Life, 57, 63.
107. BCA, menu collection. Thanks to Andrew Phillips, Boodle’s Club Secretary, for permission
to consult the library and to Jay Stiefel of Philadelphia who introduced us.
108. BCA, menus, Bi-Centenary Dinner, January 31, 1962.
109. Information kindly provided by Professor Carolyne Larrington, now of St. John’s College,
110. CCA, Gaudy and Censer’s dinner menus; Banquet menus.
111. HCA, menus.
112. Spark, A Far Cry from Kensington, 60.
113. Mauretania, August 8, 1962, New York Public Library, Rare Books Division, digitized as
menu_pages/54355; Ivy restaurant, Bodleian Library, John Johnson Collection, Hotel and
Restaurant Menus Box 2; Hawes Inn, New York Public Library At
both the Ivy and Hawes Inn, prices are in pounds, shillings and pence so before 1971 when the
currency became digital, eliminating the shilling. Two Miramar menus, dated December 12, 1971,
and August 27, 1972, feature soft roes on toast and Welsh rarebit respectively. We thank Carolyn
Steele, whose family owned the hotel, for these menus.
114. Gorton, In Defense of British Cooking, 80–85.
115. WCCAA, Programmes/Menus, Box F/PM/1 and recent uncatalogued menus.
116. A menu for June, 2019, lists Welsh rarebit, Scotch woodcock, angels on horseback, soft
herring roes (i.e. milt) on toast, and anchovies on toast.
117. We thank Mr. W. A. Brogan, kitchen manager at St. John’s, referred by Dr. P. A. Linehan.
118. MCA, E/A/3 Box 1, folder 5 Pepys Dinner 1905–1993; Box 3, folder 8 St. Mary Magdalene
Feast 1935–2018. We are indebted to Christina Stankey, a Yale graduate who then studied at
Magdalene, for looking this up for us.
119. Thanks to St. Catherine’s chef Tim Kelsey for this information.
120. We are grateful to Trevor Gulliver, co-founder of St. John, for information on the restau-
rant. On White’s, Prince, “White’s Gentleman’s’ Club Reveal,” Josh Evans obtained first-
hand the information from the Oxford and Cambridge Club.
121. Luncheon menu, May 28, 2019.
122. We thank Hannah Dunmow, archivist of the Worshipful Company of Brewers, for furnish-
ing us with a savories list.
Archival sources
Athenaeum Club Library, (ACL), London, United Kingdom.
Boodle’s Club Archives (BCA), London, United Kingdom.
Caius College Archive (CCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Christ Church College Archive (CCCA), Oxford, United Kingdom.
Codrington Library (CL), Oxford, United Kingdom.
Garrick Club Library (GCL), London, United Kingdom.
Gladstone Library (GLL), London, United Kingdom.
Goldsmith’s Library (GOL), London, United Kingdom.
Gonville College Archive (GCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Guildhall Library (GUL), London, United Kingdom.
Hertford College Archive (HCA), Oxford, United Kingdom.
Jesus College Archive (JCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Magdalene College Archives (MCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
New York Public Library (NYPL), New York, United States.
Reform Club Archive (RCA), London, United Kingdom.
St. Catharine’s College Archive (SCCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
St. John’s College Library (SJCL), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Trinity College Archive (TCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Trinity College Archive (TCA), Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Weston Library (WL), Oxford, United Kingdom.
Worshipful Company of Barbers’ Archive (WCBA), London, United Kingdom.
Worshipful Company of Brewers (WCB), London, United Kingdom.
Worshipful Company of Carpenters’ Archive (WCCAA), London, United Kingdom.
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Worshipful Company of Lincoln’s Inn, Library (WCLIL), London, United Kingdom
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Appendix. Croûtes Served at the Reform Club, 1904 – 1932
Alexandre le Grand
Blanc et noir
Bleu claire
Champignon sur croûte
Domonicain (sic)
Eduard VII
Fillet de kipper
Laitances sur croûte
Laitances, champignons sur croûte
Merluche (hake)
Prince de Galles
ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
This is the first scholarly treatment of the history of public eating in London in the Victorian and Edwardian eras. The quotidian nature of eating out during the working day or evening should not be allowed to obscure the significance of the restaurant (defined broadly, to encompass not merely the prestigious West End restaurant, but also the modest refreshment room, and even the street cart) as a critical component in the creation of modern metropolitan culture. The story of the London restaurant between the 1840s and the First World War serves as an exemplary site for mapping the expansion of commercial leisure, the increasing significance of the service sector, the introduction of technology, the democratization of the public sphere, changing gender roles, and the impact of immigration. The London Restaurant incorporates the notion of 'gastro-cosmopolitanism' to highlight the existence of a diverse culture in London in this period that requires us to think, not merely beyond the nation, but beyond empire. The restaurant also had an important role in contemporary debates about public health and the (sometimes conflicting, but no less often complementary) prerogatives of commerce, moral improvement, and liberal governance. The London Restaurant considers the restaurant as a business and a place of employment, as well as an important site for the emergence of new forms of metropolitan experience and identity. While focused on London, it illustrates the complex ways in which cultural and commercial forces were intertwined in modern Britain, and demonstrates the rewards of writing histories which recognize the interplay between broad, global forces and highly localized spaces.
This work is the first to study the gentlemen's clubs that were an important feature of the Late Victorian landscape, and the first to discover the secret history of clubmen and their world, placing them at centre stage, detailing how clubland dramatically shaped 19th and early 20th-century ideas about gender, power, class, and the city.
A unique look at the meaning of the taste for wine in Britain, from the establishment of a Commonwealth in 1649 to the Commercial Treaty between Britain and France in 1860 - this book provides an extraordinary window into the politics and culture of England and Scotland just as they were becoming the powerful British state.
In nineteenth-century America refined sugar changed from being a rare substance enjoyed by the rich and coveted by the poor at the beginning of the century to a common commodity within the reach of everyone by century's end. Looking at how refined sugar reached consumers in the form of confectionery—penny candies, ice cream, chocolates and bonbons, ornamental sugar, and homemade candies and desserts—tells us as much about how Americans incorporated new commodities into their lives as it does about the democratization of sugar itself. In effect, Americans animated the commodities appearing in the marketplace, endowing them with human-like qualities that eventually linked specific products with specific consumers. At the same time, people came to define themselves more through the material objects they associated with, blurring the line between animate and inanimate. Although refined sugar itself could be considered a generic good, the cultural products made from it—confections—were highly differentiated and gained “appropriate” consuming audiences. Further, as refined sugar became cheaper and more readily available, it shifted from being a symbol of male economic prowess to a substance associated with women and children. Looking at refined sugar in nineteenth-century America as a case study helps to reveal some of the meaning-making processes that determine people's relationships to the material universe around them.
In nineteenth-century London, a clubbable man was a fortunate man, indeed. The Reform, the Athenaeum, the Travellers, the Carlton, the United Service are just a few of the gentlemen's clubs that formed the exclusive preserve known as "clubland" in Victorian London-the City of Clubs that arose during the Golden Age of Clubs. Why were these associations for men only such a powerful emergent institution in nineteenth-century London? Distinctly British, how did these single-sex clubs help fashion men, foster a culture of manliness, and assist in the project of nation-building? What can elite male affiliative culture tell us about nineteenth-century Britishness? A Room of His Own sheds light on the mysterious ways of male associational culture as it examines such topics as fraternity, sophistication, nostalgia, social capital, celebrity, gossip, and male professionalism. The story of clubland (and the literature it generated) begins with Britain's military heroes home from the Napoleonic campaign and quickly turns to Dickens's and Thackeray's acrimonious Garrick Club Affair. It takes us to Richard Burton's curious Cannibal Club and Winston Churchill's The Other Club; it goes underground to consider Uranian desire and Oscar Wilde's clubbing and resurfaces to examine the problematics of belonging in Trollope's novels. The trespass of French socialist Flora Tristan, who cross-dressed her way into the clubs of Pall Mall, provides a brief interlude. London's clubland-this all-important room of his own-comes to life as Barbara Black explores the literary representations of clubland and the important social and cultural work that this urban site enacts. Our present-day culture of connectivity owes much to nineteenth-century sociability and Victorian networks; clubland reveals to us our own enduring desire to belong, to construct imagined communities, and to affiliate with like-minded comrades.
London's Soho district underwent a spectacular transformation between the late Victorian era and the end of the Second World War: its old buildings and dark streets infamous for sex, crime, political disloyalty, and ethnic diversity became a center of culinary and cultural tourism servicing patrons of nearby shops and theaters. Indulgences for the privileged and the upwardly mobile edged a dangerous, transgressive space imagined to be "outside" the nation. Treating Soho as exceptional, but also representative of London's urban transformation, Judith Walkowitz shows how the area's foreignness and porousness were key to the explosion of culture and development of modernity in the first half of the twentieth century. She draws on a vast and unusual range of sources to stitch together a rich patchwork quilt of vivid stories and unforgettable characters, revealing how Soho became a showcase for a new cosmopolitan identity.
From Solider of the Infantry to Soldier of the Fork: that's how Lieutenant-Colonel Nathaniel Newnham-Davis described himself to Britons who liked a good dinner, but who nonetheless struggled in “the spider web of a carte de jour.” His 1899 restaurant guide, Dinners and Diners: Where and How to Dine in London, was so successful that he updated it in 1901. By 1914, when Davis published Gourmet's Guide to London, he had launched a restaurant revolution. Unlike gastronomes before him, Davis systematically demystified the protocol of restaurant dining for hundreds of middle-class people who had been too intimidated to step inside one of them or to visit locales where less-expensive restaurant meals were available. Newnham-Davis recognized that his target audience—“the Respectable Classes,” as he referred to them—had little experience with the notion of eating for pleasure or leaving the security of home to venture out to a restaurant. Understanding their inhibitions, Newnham-Davis created a guidebook genre that offered a great deal more than the bare facts and lists that characterized typical guidebooks of the era, such as Baedeker's London and Its Environs.