Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Guest Post: Victorian Street Food + Giveaway!

To celebrate Sandra Schwab's newest release, YULETIDE TRUCE (m/m historical), I've got a fun little guest post, an excerpt, and a giveaway to share! Let's talk about street food in Victorian England.

A Short Guide to Victorian Street Food

Hello everybody! I’m thrilled to be here  today to celebrate the release of my Victorian holiday romance Yuletide Truce. The setting of the novella is far removed from the ballrooms and drawing rooms of high society. Instead, Aigee and Kit’s story will take you out into the streets of Victorian London, into smoky taverns and dingy alleyways.

Among the many characteristic sights of 19th-century London were the costermongers and street vendors selling their wares from baskets, wheelbarrows, or donkey-drawn carts. Victorian street food was surprisingly varied, and the stalls weren’t just frequented by the poorer classes, but also by the well-off. Here are five of the food vendors you could find in Victorian London, as described by the journalist Henry Mayhew in the mid-1800s.

1) Coffee Stalls
These became very common from the early 1840s onward and could be found at the street corners of the main thoroughfares. In addition to coffee, which was kept warm by a charcoal burner, many of them also offered a variety of snacks, e.g., bread and butter, sliced cake, or ham sandwiches.

2) Lemonade Vendors
These were out and about during the summer months and typically made the lemonade powder themselves (though some vendors bought their powders from the chemist's). To this powder the they added water that was kept cool in what was called a “stone-barrel” with a tap.  To heighten the appeal of their wares, some sellers would add coloring: a bit of saffron would give “lemon-juice” a nice pale yellow or orange color, and cochineal lent the beverage a reddish tinge, just perfect for raspberry lemonade. However, Mayhew was informed by one vendor, “If cochineal is used for coloring, […] it sometimes turns brown in the sun, and the raspberry don’t sell.” Oh yum…

3) The Muffin-Man
The tinkle of the bell of the muffin-man was a familiar sound on London’s streets, and selling (English!) muffins and crumpets had a long tradition.  “The muffins are bought of the bakers […],” Mayhew writes. “The muffin-man carries his delicacies in a basket, wherein they are well swathed in flannel, to retain the heat: ‘People likes them warm, sir,’ an old man told me, ‘to satisfy them they’re fresh, and they almost always are fresh; but it can’t matter so much about their being warm, as they have to be toasted again.’”

4) Street Sellers of Pea Soup and Hot Eels
These stalls (you will find one of them in Yuletide Truce) were typically frequented by the working classes and poorer people. Mayhew informs us that “[i]n warm weather these street-cooks deal only in ‘hot eels’ and whelks; as the whelk trade is sometimes an accompaniment of the others, for then the soup will not sell. These dealers are stationary, having stalls or stands in the streets, and the savory odor from them attracts more hungry-looking gazers and longers than does a cook-shop window. They seldom move about, but generally frequent the same place.”

5) Sweet Stalls
Most of the people who sold sweets on the streets made them themselves. Among the delicacies to be had were “hard-bake,” almond toffy, half-penny lollipops, peppermint sticks, and brandy balls. One of the vendors of “sweet-stuff” told Mayhew a rather adorable story about one of his customers: “Boys and girls are my best customers, sir, and mostly the smallest of them; but then, again, some of them’s fifty, aye, turned fifty; Lor’ love you. An old fellow, that hasn’t a stump of a tooth in front, he’ll stop and buy a ha’porth of hard-baek, and he’ll say, ‘I’ve a deal of the boy left about me still.’” Awww!

~ Sandra Schwab

Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab 
Publisher: Sandra Schwab (September 22, 2017)
Genre: M/M Romance -- Historical

London, 1845

It's December, Alan "Aigee" Garmond's favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren't for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee's book reviews.

But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop's magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.

Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London's most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?

(18,000 words) Novella

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Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab

Foreman brushed a hand through his hair. “Does that mean I can no longer sharpen my pen on your reviews?” 
Aigee’s lips twitched. Suddenly, he felt quite lighthearted, almost daring. As if anything might be possible. 
As if this little room had been touched by some Christmas magic. 
As if he might take the boldest chance of all… 
“Oh, I’m sure you’ll have no difficulties in finding something else for sharpening your pen,” he said. “After all, the lashings of your pen and tongue are renowned.” 
Foreman snorted. “It’s hardly my fault that people insist on being ludicrous." 
Aigee looked out of the window at the darkness that was only broken by the feeble glow of the a few lamps in the windows of the houses around this little yard. “Hm…” For a moment, he still hesitated. Then: “Did you also give a tongue-lashing to that fellow I saw you leading up the stairs at the Little Rose?” He turned, wondering if he had overshot his mark. 
Rather pale, Foreman stared at him, which made Aigee realize that his remark could be misconstrued. 
“I was rather jealous of the man,” he clarified. 
Color came and went in Foreman’s face. With narrowed eyes, he looked Aigee up and down. “I see,” he said, nastily. “And you expect me to give you the same in gratitude for services rendered, is that it?” 
Aigee felt a stab of exasperation as he shook his head. “What a nasty mind you have, Mr. Foreman.” He walked over to the bed, sat down, and boxed Foreman in with one arm, forcing him to fall back against the pillows as he leaned over him. “Actually, I was thinking more of giving you a tongue-lashing for being so stupid as to enter a well-known rookery all by yourself.” 
They stared at each other. 
“I’ve locked the door,” Aigee added helpfully.

Award-winning author Sandra Schwab started writing her first novel when she was seven years old. Thirty-odd years later, telling stories is still her greatest passion, even though by now, she has exchanged her pink fountain pen of old for a black computer keyboard. Since the release of her debut novel in 2005, she has enchanted readers worldwide with her unusual historical romances (some of which she now uses to shamelessly fangirl over Punch, her favorite Victorian magazine).

She holds a PhD in English literature, and in autumn 2015, she appeared on the BBC documentary Great Continental Railway Journeys to talk about another favorite topic of hers, the Grimms’ fairy tales (while walking through a rather muddy stretch of the Black Forest) (there were a lot of slugs, too).

She lives in Frankfurt am Main / Germany with a sketchbook, a sewing machine, and an ever-expanding library.

Where to Find Sandra:

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I'll take the sweets but they can keep the eels!


Until Next Time,

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