Canonesses of the Holy Sepulchre

Cooking up a storm

kitchen 2

As the weather turns colder, we are looking back at warmer times and recalling a busy summer with S. Diana Impey. This July (2015), the Community hosted an international Prioress' conference, with some 25 delegates attending from all over the world. Looking back through the archives, S. Diana has discovered that the Community also hosted a similar event at New Hall, in July 1903, for 22 delegates, and has provided us with menus from both events to compare for this post.

In 1903, 22 ladies attended a conference at New Hall, from Monday 20th July until Saturday 25th July. There was to be gingerbread and cheese every day for lunch, 2 kinds of vegetable every day for dinner, and 3 tureens of soup available every day for dinner.

In 2015, 25 ladies attended a conference at Howe Close, from Monday 29th June until Monday 6th July. It was planned that there would be cheese, bread and salad every day for lunch, 2 kinds of vegetables every day for dinner, and soup depending on the weather.

Here are the menus for each meal:

Monday - Dinner 

1903:  Roast beef (3 dishes) veal cutlets on peas (3 dishes);  Canary pudding, fruit tart (3 dishes of each)

2015 Cottage pie  + lentil cottage pie for veggies,  Carrots/Broccoli;  Fruit cheese cake and cream,  Fresh fruit

Tuesday - Lunch 

1903:  Rolled cold beef and ham (3 dishes) cold mutton (3 dishes);  Victoria sandwich, little tarts, (3 dishes of each)

2015:  Cold ham, cold salami,  Green salad and tomatoes,  French sticks;  Yoghurt and fresh fruit

Tuesday - Dinner

1903:  Roast Veal (3 dishes) Stewed steak, with carrots (3 dishes);  Semolina pudding and fruit tartplum,3 dishes of each

2015:  Sausages and onions,  Mashed potato,  Baked beans and minted petit Pois;  French apple tart, ice cream,  Fresh fruit

Wednesday - Lunch 

1903:  Cold veal and ham, 3 dishes, cold mutton 3 dishes;  Moulds, Little tarts 3 dishes of each

2015:  Cold tomato soup,  Quiche, cheese, coleslaw,  tomatoes

Wednesday - Dinner

1903:  Roast Lamb mutton 3 dishes, Salad with it 3 dishes, Rissoles 3 dishes;  Padbury pudding, fruit tart, 3 dishes of each

2015:  Chicken pie,  Roast potatoes,  Green beans/carrots;  Trifle and fresh fruit

Thursday - Lunch 

1903:  Cold lamb, Jelly pie, 3 dishes, cold beef 3 dishes salad;  6 open cheesecake tarts jam fingers 3 dishes 3 dishes

2015:  Cold pea soup,  Spanish omelettes, ham, cheese,  Tomato salad, green salad;  Yoghurts/crème caramels

Thursday - Dinner

1903:  Roast beef  3 dishes, haricot mutton or mutton cutlets 3 dishes;  Tapioca pudding, fruit tartapple 3 dishes of each

2015:  Vegetable lasagne,  Garlic bread,  Coleslaw and baby tomatoes;  Peach pavlova

Friday - Lunch

1903:  Omlet [sic] 3 dishes, lobster 3 dishes;  Moulds 3, Victoria sandwiches 3 dishes

2015:  Hard boiled eggs, salami, cheese.  crisps bread and oat cakes;  Choc mousse/yoghurt/fruit

Friday - Dinner

1903:  (the soup a la green pea soup),  Boiled Fish (salmon trout) 3 dishes Fried fish 3 dishes,  poached eggs on spinach cucumber eggs

2015:  Fish and chips,  Mushy peas and sweet corn;  Chocolate gateaux and fresh fruit

Saturday - Lunch 

 1903:  cold mutton, 3 dishes, beef 3 dishes;  3 hedgehogs, little tarts

2015:  Barbecue -  Chicken drum sticks, sausage, burgers on sticks, sweet corn, aubergine slices, potato salad, coleslaw, and mixed salad;  Fruit salad and mango mousse

Although the menus are quite similar in many ways, some very big differences would be the number of people working in the kitchen and the equipment available to help with the cooking processes. Machines such as food processors and electric fan oven were not available in 1903, and the work of the food processor in particular would have been done by lay sisters - hours and hours of chopping! 

It is also important to remember how much the etiquette of meals has changed in the Community - in 1903 or any date up until the 1960s the Community would have eaten a separate menu and in 2015 anyone in the house at that time sat and ate the same menu.

Many thanks to S. Diana for providing the material for this fascinating post, there will be more posts on food from the archives soon!