Food in New France

A Swedish botanist Peter Kalm gave us a very good account of the way in which people lived in Old Quebec, and as we read it we can imagine how we should have fared as guests in a house in New France in the 18th century:

“They eat three meals a day, namely, breakfast, dinner, and supper. The breakfast is usually between seven and eight. Even the Governor is an early riser and may be visited at seven o’clock. Some of the men dip a piece of bread in brandy and eat it; others take a little brandy eat a piece of bread afterwards. Chocolate is also often drunk at breakfast, and many ladies drink coffee.

Some eat no breakfast at all. I have never seen tea used, perhaps because they can get chocolate and coffee from the French provinces in South America, while tea has to be brought from China. Dinner is almost exactly at noon.

The loaves are oval and baked of wheat flour. For each person they put a plate, napkin, spoon, and fork. Sometimes they likewise give knifes, but they are generally omitted, all the ladies and gentlemen being provided with their own knives.

The meal begins with a soup with a good deal of bread in it. Then follow fresh meats of various kinds, boiled and roasted, poultry or game, fricassees, etc., together with different kinds of salads. They commonly drink red claret at dinner, mixed with water, and spruce beer is also much in use. The ladies drink water and sometimes wine. After dinner, the fruits and sweetmeats are served.

These are of many different kinds, walnuts from France or Canada, ripe of or pickled, almonds, raisins, hazelnuts, blackberries, and mossberrries.

Cheese is also part of the dessert, and so is milk, which they eat with sugar, last of all…

Supper is usually at seven o’clock or between seven and eight at night, and the dishes are much the same as at dinner.

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