When the Canadian Volunteers met for their Regimental Dinner at Fort George this past weekend, they were allowed to use the kitchen to prepare the meal, and the officer's mess to enjoy it. It's one thing for the soldier re-enactors to train according to Napoleonic drill manuals, and fire replicas of 1812 muskets. It's quite another to be able to prepare a banquet feast using the technologies and techniques of 200 years ago.
This is Abby and Georgina's world. It's the hearth where Jake is brought after he falls through the ice, and where he Eli sleep when the upstairs rooms are taken by stepsisters of other guests. It's the world of grand regency feasts like the ones that Joe Willcocks noted in the diary he kept as a young man.
In the kitchen, the re-enactors are every bit as strict as out on the parade ground to ensure that things are done the way they would have been done at Fort George during the War of 1812.
That includes the food, the way that it is prepared, and the dishes in which it is served. It takes a great deal of patience to cook a full course banquet over an open fire, but the technology of the day created some shortcuts when roasting the chickens.
Stew, on the other hand, is cooked the "old fashioned" way in an open pot.
The table settings, the dinnerware and the lighting would have been familiar to the Gibson household.
The table is set with the kinds of food that provided snacks in the Regency period.
While the meal is being prepared inside, the soldiers drill in the within the walls of Fort George.
But after the end of a long day for everyone, they folks begin to arrive at the officer's mess.
It's a big table and a lot of people -- re-enactors of all ages.
Congratulations all around for a job well done.