Dining with the Tsars

If you always have wanted to know how the tsars of Russia dined, you now have the chance to find out. In the Hermitage in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, you can visit the exhibition “Dining with the Tsars”, which can be admired until 1 March 2015. The exhibition opened on 6 September. A must for royalty watchers, and interesting even if you don’t really like silver, porcelain and services. There are several tables set, and they are well decorated. Shown are among others items of the Green Frog Service (Wedgwood, England), the Cameo Service (Sèvres, Paris), and the Berlin Dessert Service (Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur Berlin), the service that Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany gave to Tsar Nicholas II and his wife Alexandra for their wedding, and much more. Information and funny facts about dining at the imperial palaces everywhere. The exhibition ends with the service that was given to Stalin by the Hungarian people in 1949. It has never been used or exhibited before.

5 thoughts on “Dining with the Tsars

  1. Very interesting to see how things were done. I’ve got one question though (and it is valid for today’s standards of etiquette as well) – how would a place setting be laid out for a guest who is right handed BUT eats left handed (the flatware would have to be the otherway rounde but glasses on the right). Can anybody answer this question for me please? I’m very interested. Also, how does the palace/place of event-dinner-gala handle allergies? Would one just indicate these on your RSVP? I’ve got no idea where to look for the answers. Thanks in advance.

    1. In the past you were not supposed to be left handed in any way 🙂 I would think that nowadays when you get an invitation you indeed get a chance to indicate allergies, diets, etc. on your RSVP … but unfortunately I have never received one (no allergies, diets, etc. here, but I absolutely hate fish).

      1. Netty, thanks so much for your reply. I didn’t think of being forced to be right handed in the past. That was really a problem for the eater (and writer – my own father was forced to learn to write with his right hand instead of left). In today’s life, do you think one could indicate eating left handed, and in your case prefering no fish at all, could be noted on the RSVP. After all, we can now, in modern times, write and eat withever way is comfortable for us (using the dominant hand for a specific ‘job’). It’s a hereditary thing from maternal side – my mother’s father ate left handed but was dominant right handed. So am I and my daughter. Just a very fascinating problem for me. I once, when younger (young teenager) landed in a slightly posh restaurant with my parents and friends. As per normal the flatware was laid out right handed and I did my usual thing, changed all the flatware to the way I ate. I was flabbergasted when, within seconds, a waiter turned up at my side and apologised for the mistake and put everything back the ‘normal’ way. I promptly (because he didn’t give me a chance to explain) switched everything again but was ready for him this time. As he reached the table I respectfully stopped him and told him that I ate that way. You should have seen the look on his face!!! 🙂

  2. Hi Irmal55. If I were you, I would simply explain in the RSVP, just like any diet and food wishes. Whether it is usual or not at court, I would think they should respect the guest’s wishes. If I look at menus at courts I sometimes wonder if they often eat food I don’t feel is very nice, except for the desserts … At home we somehow hardly ate fish, and we probably ate pretty basic, but internationally tough. So I didn’t grow up with posh dishes. Just give me something good and simple, and I’ll eat it.

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