Eating food on the run? Think Victorian London, 19th century

restaurant_food-webAre you a fast food junky?
Do you make frequent stops at coffee shops?
Would you rather eat out than cook and clean up at home?
Are catered events preferred over self preparation and hosting?

This may seem like a picture of modern-day life on the run, and it is. But it’s not exactly “modern.” We’re copying the patterns of the working class of Victorian London in the 19th century. Our motivations for doing so may be a little different:

  • Today it’s usually cheaper to eat at home.
  • In Victorian London, the opposite was true. Eating in your own home was the privilege of the very wealthy.*

  • Today, food storage and preparation areas are common in working-class residences.  Our choice to eat out is based more on preference and convenience than necessity.
  • In nineteenth century London, the opposite was true. Many lived in one room rather than houses. Although they might have access to a communal kitchen, a fireplace was more common. Cooking in a fireplace took time, fuel for the fire, constant vigilance, and a place to store food free from vermin.*

  • Catering—preparation and serving of food by someone other than yourself—can be costly in modern times. It is event-driven for the most part.
  • Delivery of food from eating places in 19th century London were the norm and included cutlery and condiments. The delivery person would also stay to serve upon request. Large sums of money were not needed for these services.*

We may think our generation is the one that thought up solutions, pursues modern conveniences, and has fresh ideas.

As a member of the 60+ crowd, I’ve been heard to say, “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

*Information from The Victorian City by Judith Flanders


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