Postprandial – definition: happening or done after a meal
The etiquette of meal times has changed drastically in modern times. Many households have meals balanced on laps while watching TV or plates are taken to separate rooms. The latter mostly for teenagers, I believe. Obviously, some families still enjoy meals at the dining table but unfortunately it is not common practice. I think we miss out on real connections with other family members when the dining table is abandoned.
When our story is set in a particular era, details such as meal etiquette enable us to create the right atmosphere. Let’s take the 18th century as an example.
It was customary for gentlemen and ladies to dress formally for dinner, primarily because it was an opportunity to meet a partner. The host and hostess were first to be seated and the closer you sat to them the more honored a guest you were perceived as. Meals were usually two courses plus a dessert although upper class diners could see up to 25 dishes from which they chose two or three.
Once the meal was finished, the gentlemen would stand and wait for the ladies to exit the dining room. Leaving them to smoke cigars and drink such beverages as brandy and cognac. At this time the dishes and tablecloth would be removed. The ladies gathered in the drawing room to exchange conversation and wait for the men to rejoin them for the evenings entertainment.
This sort of evening meal is not really practical now-a-days, with children’s activities, working parents and our frantic lifestyles but once in a while wouldn’t it be fun?
Have you discovered a ‘lost’ etiquette while researching an era?