Soup, Soup and More Soup ...

People of the Regency era really loved their soup.

Apparently so much that one could not plan a ball until one had enough white soup made.

Wait ... what?

“By the bye, Charles, are you really serious in meditating a dance at Netherfield?—I would advise you, before you determine on it, to consult the wishes of the present party; I am much mistaken if there are not some among us to whom a ball would be rather a punishment than a pleasure.”

“If you mean Darcy,” cried her brother, “he may go to bed, if he chooses, before it begins—but as for the ball, it is quite a settled thing; and as soon as Nicholls has made white soup enough I shall send round my cards.”

- Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice.

Soup was so essential to a dinner table it was crass to refuse it.

Wait ... what?

As many of you are aware, high society during the time of Jane Austen was referred to as "polite society" for their many complex rules of etiquette. Violating one of these rules would display one's lack of class and cause raised eyebrows aplenty.

I thought I might share one of the oddest rules I have encountered in regards to table manners, with a short excerpt from my upcoming release.

Emma knew her brow was furrowed, but try as she might, she could not relax the muscles in her face. “But what if I do not want the soup?”

Perry rubbed his hands over his face, clearly still recovering from the night before. “You must accept the soup.”

“What if I do not like the soup that is served?”

“It does not signify. One always accepts the soup.”

(Excerpt from My Fair Bluestocking by Nina Jarrett)

There were no exceptions. If one did not want the soup, one accepted it and toyed with it to pretend one was eating it.

One wonders what the hostess would do if you simply said, "No soup for me, thank you." Did the world end? Did all conversation stop? Did the hostess burst into tears?

And even Thomas Rowlandson piped in with a drawing about an inept footman spilling soup, which the Royal Collection Trust explains.

A hand-coloured print of a footman, wearing garishly coloured livery, who in his wish to carry a tureen of soup with one hand, tips the contents over a woman seated on the left.

The footman also drops a joint of meat over a dog much to the horror of the older mistress of the house seated on the right. In the background, enters a buxom maid with another plate of food. Above, a parrot screams from its cage.

Below the design are instructions to footmen as to how to present dishes at table.

- Image and description from Royal Collection Trust

In chapter three of Inconvenient Brides, a feisty bluestocking meets a spoilt buck from London, and sparks fly in every direction while they navigate the intricacies of high society.

And eat soup.

My Fair Bluestocking is my newest tale of passion ... and dinner!

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