So, after that sumptuous breakfast Marissa described, how could you possibly be hungry for lunch?
The answer is that many folks weren’t all that hungry in the middle of the day, at least at first. As Marissa mentioned, breakfast was often later in the morning (around 10). At the beginning of the nineteenth century, dinner was often around 1:00 in the afternoon, so people didn’t need lunch. But as dinner got pushed back later and later (from 3 to 6), people needed a little something in between.
And thus luncheon was born! According to some experts, the term lunch was considered vulgar, and the term most often used early in the century was nuncheon, which may have been pronounced noon-shine. Whatever you called it, the food was laid out on a sideboard in the dining room, and you could pick from cold meats like ham and roast beef, pickles, fruit preserves (like jelly only you ate it with a spoon instead of spread it on bread), and dessert-type items like cakes, buns, and tarts, all washed down with ale or tea. You might even grab up a sandwich of bread, meat, and cheese.
At least in some circles, however, luncheon was considered the resort of old men, young mothers, and children, in other words, those who were not strong enough to make it through the day without a little pick-me-up. And it was definitely a family affair—one did not invite guests to lunch as one did to breakfasts or dinners.
One might, however, offer callers something to eat. Sometimes that included tea. But British high tea as we know it was a whole other affair. Come back Tuesday when Marissa tells us the torrid truth about tea.
In the meantime, I had to point this out, just in case you hadn't heard: Marvel Comics has issued Pride and Prejudice as a graphic novel! The beloved story was adapted by Nancy Hajeski aka Nancy Butler, an absolutely amazing writer and winner of the Romance Writers of America’s coveted Rita award for best Regency romance. I haven’t found a copy near me yet, so if anyone reads it, tell us what you think, please!