Foie gras, truffles, birds drowned in brandy: a menu fit for Queen Victoria

A royal lunch served at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire forms part of an exhibition on its kitchen

By any standards it was an epic lunch: the finest soup, jellied trout and rice with prawns, quail stuffed with truffles and foie gras, chicken, beef, duck, asparagus, wonderful Viennese doughnuts, sweet soufflés decorated with gold leaf, and not forgetting tiny songbirds, which are either a luxurious delight, or a gastronomic disgrace.

The birds, called ortolans, weigh about an ounce and were hunted and kept in darkness for weeks to fatten up. They were then drowned in Armagnac, roasted and served sizzling to be eaten in a single hedonistic mouthful.

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