Eating Habits in Old Copenhagen

1: Festive Occasions

In the ‘season’ from October to March, wealthy burghers and upper classes spend a large amount of time giving dinners and balls, and accepting invitations to similar events.

The housewife would perform a full-time job to control a household’s festivities but, obviously, she’d look after the general household too. She wouldn’t do this alone: in an average upper-class household there’d be a cook, one or two maids, and, possibly, a coachman. The servants would have to work hard in order too keep the residence presentable, always overseen by their mistress.

It was up to the lady of the house to arrange the season’s festivity and make sure that nobody in the family’s circle was overlooked. To do this she’d have to keep strict accounts of every party, who was invited, what food was served, on what date the event took place, and sometimes the seating order. She’d also keep books regarding invitations, and other events, like theatre evenings etc.

At dinner parties the number of guests could vary from three to twenty or more. Gentlemen’s dinners would have fewer participants to allow an intimate atmosphere. In most families the close family would figure in most invitation lists, but it was also important to include such people as political contacts, cultural personalities, and or colleagues.

It wasn’t unusual to invite between fifty and sixty guests for balls.

All in all, around hundred to two hundred persons from perhaps ninety-five different families would be represented during a ‘season’.

Below I have entered examples of menus for festive occasions.


Menu with wines

Turtle soup

Pike                                                White Wine (Rhone, Bourgogne, Rhein)

Cutlets with vegetables              Red Wine (decanted)

Venison                                          Champagne

Cheese                                            Red Wine

Ice cream                                       Madeira, Port

Dessert (Pralines, Marzipan)     Tokay


Menu with wines

Oysters                                              Sparkling White Wine

Soup w egg dumplings

Fish rolls in lobster sauce             Sparkling White Wine

Fillet of Beef with Tomatoes        Champagne/Bourgogne

Cauliflower Gratin                         Champagne/Bourgogne

Partridge                                          Champagne/Bourgogne

Pineapple Blanc Mange                Madeira, Tokay

Fresh Fruit                                       Madeira, Tokay


Buffet with Champagne

Croustades                                         Champagne (sweet)

Venison Ragout

Pineapple Jelly

Open Sandwiches




Rice a la mande


smoked eel with scrambled eggs

honey-roasted ham, rolled sausage

various garnishes

boiled eggs

liver pâté with fried mushrooms and bacon

pickled herring

cheeses: Havarti, Camembert, Samsø, Gammel-Ole

Rye bread.

Wheat bread

Savoury biscuits


©HMH, 2017







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