A Meal Fit For a Queen

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be Queen? What it’s like to be treated royally? Nursed with utmost care and respect? And pampered with the best? The luxurious life of royalty knows no limits–jewelry, wardrobe, wealth, help, food… and so on (the list can go on forever!). Her Highness’ cravings are always satisfied no matter the cost, pain or hassle. With Valentine’s day approaching, we’re sure you’ve considered treating your significant other to a well-deserved royal meal. After all, she is your queen and she worthy of only the best! What type of meal is fit for a queen? Let’s take a look at some of the most famous female rulers in history and their eating habits for inspiration.

Queen Elizabeth I of England

House of Tudor (1533–1603)

A meal fit for Queen Elizabeth I of England

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Queen Elizabeth was distinguished by her love of sweets. During her rule, importation of sugar was on a constant rise. It is said that food preserves were cooked with a ratio of 1 pound of fruit to 1 pound of sugar during her reign. Some of her favourite treats included marzipan, tasty morsels and comfits (seeds, spices, or fruits coated in sugar). She indulged so much in sweets that her teeth turned black, forcing her to give a closed smile in portraits. 

Her residence was also filled with spices and exotic fruits. She even had a department for Spicery, with a bookkeeper keeping an eye on prices and quantity.

In her prime, 50 rooms were dedicated for cooking with a staff of 200. A list disclosing the palace’s meat annual consumption recorded 8,200 sheep, 2,330 deer, 1,240 oxen, 760 calves, 1,870 pigs, and 53 wild boars. At banquets, delicacies included toothed whale meat and beaver tail.

Presentation is key for royalty. All pastries had to be embellished for her Highness. Pastry was also used for entertainment: live animals were hidden in pies for laughs.

Marie Antoinette, Queen of the French

House of Bourbon (1774-1789)

A meal fit for Queen Marie Antoinette

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Big pastel hair, lavish gowns, beauty and charm were all features of Her Majesty Marie Antoinette. In Sofia Coppola’s film, Marie Antoinette, the Queen of the French is portrayed as a sweet tooth with a heavy appetite for macarons, ice cream, champagne and other delicious sugary treats.

However, according to her first Chambermaid, Madame Campan, that was not the case at all. Although she loved chocolate flavoured with vanilla, orange, or almond, the queen’s food palate was more simple than extravagant.

She loved her morning cup of coffee or hot chocolate, with Kipfel–an early form of the croissant. For her main satiating dishes, she went for roasted or boiled white meat accompanied by cooked vegetables and a broth.

As for drinks, the ruler was known to choose water over alcoholic beverages. She preferred lemonade or water from Ville d’Avray and liked to dip biscuits in them. For fitness and health, she also drank cow and donkey milk.

Not so royal, after all.

Empress Wu Zetian of Ancient China

Tang Dynasty – Zhou Dynasty (690 to 705 CE)

A meal fit for Empress Wu Zetian

Unknown – Image taken from An 18th century album of portraits of 86 emperors of China, with Chinese historical notes. Originally published/produced in China, 18th century. (British Library, Shelfmark Or. 2231)

Wu Zetian, a beautiful and well-educated noble, was the only female Emperor of China. She is renowned as a fearless reformist, restructuring the educational, agricultural and public sector. Only talented and intelligent people were appointed jobs. Her reign was characterised by social stability, prosperous economy, great military defence and foreign affairs.

During the rule of the Tang Dynasty, food was the most diverse and prepared in various ways. Imported foods was at its highest.

The Empress’ culinary preferences were distinguished by numerous sorts of exotica, being attributed with the creation of Bai Hu Gao (hundred flower cake). Allegedly, she relished Piney flower cookies. That, my friends, is a meal fit for a queen!

Some banquets in her reign had up to 58 courses, lasting for 5 days. She had a kitchen staff of more than 2,000 people including dietitians and doctors to guarantee healthy meals and consumption.

The ruler’s dishes were plentiful; turtle soup, deer tail or tongue, lamb, pork, mutton, chicken, bear paw, exotic meat and fish, ales, wild rabbits, along with vegetables such as scallion, ginger, eggplant, olives, and astringent fruits, crab apples, flowers, nuts and more.

Water was the most common beverage with 28 varieties. Plain water included rain water, spring water, mineral water, brook water and bubbly water. However, flavoured water was also big at the ruler’s time; all sorts of fruits were boiled to add some zest.

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Cleopatra VII, Queen of Ancient Egypt

Ptolemaic Dynasty (51 to 30 BCE)

A meal fit for Queen Cleopatra VII

Photo credit: joncallas via Foter.com / CC BY

 

Last but not least, one cannot talk about Queens and not mention the queen of Ancient Egypt, Cleopatra, the icon of beauty, allure, intelligence and wit.

The Egyptian queen was infamous for being the lover of Julius Caesar and baring his child, Caesarion. She also had a love fable with Mark Anthony which resulted in their deaths.

The Egyptians were precursors to Mediterranean cuisine. Extra-virgin oil, cheese, vegetables, grains and herbs were relished with meat or fish.

The Roman General and Queen, were said to have gathered famous gastronomes, calling them The Circle of Incomparables. Together, they went for hunting expeditions, banquets, and parties.

When hosting guests, the queen‘s main dish was stuffed pigeon with vegetables. Bean or barley and spelt soup were also served as an entrée. For sophisticated events, fish from the Nile was the go-to dish. As for desserts, the queen loved to indulge in Dulcis Coccora, believed to be her favorite dessert. The treat consisted of sweet honey balls, comparable to munchkins. Traditionally, the dish is garnished with Coccora, pomegranate seeds.

For beverages, guests were always treated to some good alcohol, a Pharaoh staple, wine and beer.

Looking for some good Mediterranean food in Dubai? Don’t worry, Chef Vanessa is ready to cook you a delectable Mediterranean menu.

 

Much to our surprise, being a queen those days wasn’t as much of a culinary luxury like in today’s terms (except for those flowers!). Food availability and trends dictated the queens’ menus.

I hope you enjoyed this historical gastronomical journey. Don’t forget to sound off your comments below!