Saturday, November 3, 2007

Vile Bodies

They were nearly an hour over luncheon. Course followed course in disconcerting abundance as Colonel Blount ate and ate, turning the leaves of his book and chuckling frequently. They ate hare soup and boiled turbot and stewed sweetbreads and black Bradenham ham with Madeira sauce and roast pheasant and a rum omelette and toasted cheese and fruit. First they drank sherry, then claret, then port. Then Colonel Blount shut his book with a broad sweep of his arm rather as the headmaster of Adam's private school used to shut the Bible after evening prayers, folded his napkin carefully and stuffed it into a massive silver ring, muttered some words of grace and finally stood up saying:
"Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going to have a little nap," and trotted out of the room.

As ruthless as he was in skewering the hypocrisy of the British establishment, Evelyn Waugh loved it. In his book "Vile Bodies" he lovingly fawns over beautiful descriptions of grand feasts that were a way of life in the old country houses of the time. After reading such a description, one might be appalled at such gluttony. But Waugh also gives us a glimpse into the reality of the 1920's aristocratic diet:

Adam and Nina breakfasted alone in the dining room. There was a row of silver plates kept hot by spirit lamps which held an omelette and devilled partridges and kejeri and kidneys and sole and some rolls; there was also a ham and a tongue and some brawn and a dish of pickled herrings.
Nina ate an apple and Adam had some toast.

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