May I Take Your Order?

Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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[…] May I Take Your Order?  Dining out is normal to us, but how about Jane Austen? A short history of restaurants and the varied ways one could eat when away from home. […]

CJ Fosdick

Informative, as usual! My hub and I were talking recently about our habit of “eating out” at least twice a week now, compared to how often–or less often I should say–we did as children. It was a BIG deal when we went to a good restaurant with our parents growing up. I remember my mother and aunt having to actually take off their “girdles” after a big meal dining out! Ha!

I guess it doesn’t surprise me to learn that the French started it all. French cuisine has always been a benchmark for restauranteurs. The TV trend for cooking shows now is amazing. It would be interesting to see just when and where the lst FAST FOOD trend caught on. I do remember (vaguely) when McDonald’s burgers were 15 cents and some “Custard Stands” had roller skating waitresses who came to your car for orders! Good old days! 🙂

Kat T

I cannot source this at the moment, but I do recall reading somewhere of a person who did not eat meat(or recommended a meatless diet) during the Georgian/Regency era[I believe it was one of the period imprints I’ve come across from various historical archives when they’ve given free access]. I do think it was considered odd at the time but not unknown.
I also found what I believe was Georgian/Regency description of what we would consider milk/lactose intolerance, but later when I tried to re-find reference I could not[I THOUGHT I saw it in Memoirs of a Highland Lady].
References like this fascinate me.


Love your post, Sharon — so many things we take for granted that didn’t exist very long ago. If I may respond to the comments about vegetarianism, there have of course been followers of a vegetarian diet since the philosophers of early Greece. Some aspects of the diet reached the west from India and China when the trade routes were opened up. While there were vegetarians in Europe for centuries, it was not a popular diet until the mid-19th century when the first vegetarian society was organized in England (there is still a sizeable society in existence today, as well as in other Western countries.) The diet was embraced for philosophical, ethical, and health reasons, much as it is today. Plato, Leonardo, St Francis, Shelley, Mary Wolstoncraft, and Charlotte Bronte are amongst the more well-known vegetarians. It was also embraced of course by those who could not afford to buy meat, or at times when meat was not available.

Being a long-time vegetarian/vegan myself I have often wondered how I would have fared as a dinner guest in Regency times, and discovered it might not be so difficult inasmuch as a number of clergymen felt that avoiding meat was healthier for the body and soul, and so accommodations were made for them.

Not so sure about coaching inns or other public accommodations; even now it’s not always easy to find a restaurant to accommodate!

Vicky Dreiling

Great post Sharon – thanks!

Stephanie L

Okay, first I’m somewhat diverted by Cracker Barrel being considered fine dining…LOL Moving on…I guess I’ve never really thought about the roots of “dining out” per se. I know it would be very difficult for me (who does not eat meat) to consume anything in days of old. I guess I would just have to live on ale…LOL I just wish I could go across the pond and visit some of these lovely places. The picture of Simpson’s is just gorgeous! I’ll have to go by myself since hubby is not inclined to fly anywhere, but maybe someday I can make it over to Europe just to see the history.


Simpson’s is very handsome.:)

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