While the focus of the Through the Mist stories is the characters, I want the background to be authentic too. After all, how disconcerting would it be if Tilly whipped out her mobile phone and did an Internet search for “time travel” – when she is in 1801?
I have spent a good deal of time researching food. Tastes and dining habits were much different in the 1800s than they are now. Most of us do not have a team of servants who prepare and serve meals to us. We usually don’t raise all of our food, deal with the lack of refrigeration, or a myriad of other challenges.
I have read a lot of conflicting information about the food practices of the time. Some books suggest that what we consider breakfast and lunch were light repasts. The big meal would have been dinner. Tea and coffee would be served afterward. Some households might have had a very late supper following that as well. (Of course, this would have been the meal structure in a well-to-do household like Castle Fion and Tinberry Hall.)
In the end, I decided that it was best to create my own meal style for the two locations. I will use the research as a guide but not to be too fussy about it. I doubt that there was a strict, universal ritual from household to household anyway. That certainly is the case today. I like to eat dinner early; others may prefer to eat late.
For the sequel, I plan to use the meal as a way to show the difference between Castle Fion and Tinberry Hall. Benjamin Campbell’s down-to-earth manner strongly influences Castle Fion, creating a relaxed atmosphere. On the other hand, his father Malcolm rules Tinberry Hall with an iron fist. He expects adherence to a rigid schedule and firmly believes in maintaining the old traditions. Dinner at Tinberry Hall is very formal. One cannot imagine being at ease when dining with Malcolm Campbell.
Let’s hope meals in your own home are not fraught with the same tension. Bon appétit!