Luncheon at two thirty was followed by tea, when the King* scoffed poached eggs, petits fours, cakes, and shortbread. A twelve course dinner followed at nine, and the King would cheerfully swallow several dozen oysters in minutes, and then devour at high speed course after course of pheasant stuffed with truffles, chicken in aspic, sole poached in Chablis, or quails and boned snipe packed with fois gras, the richer and creamier the sauce the better.
– The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince, Jane Ridley, 2014
*King Edward VII of the UK, known informally as Bertie (1841-1910). He suffered numerous ailments in his life … morbid obesity, a 48-inch waist, presumed diabetes, gout, and a stomach growth. Yet he had at his disposal every medical intervention known at the time. There are people who still ask me, rhetorically I think, “What we eat doesn’t cause any of these diseases, does it? Isn’t it mostly genetic?”
I’m not a history buff. This passage was read to me by someone who is. But from what little I’ve read, I find it striking the difference between these meals and what most Americans, and arguably Europeans, were eating at the turn of the century. (“European immigrants were accustomed to eating meat only a few times a year.”)