Gelatin as a "power flex"

Another important part of the Candlelight story line is the culinary tradition. Servants worked tirelessly to prepare elaborate dishes for the governor’s table.

“As you read through cookbooks of the time period, you start figuring out, Oh, so this is going to take a very long time,” says Matt Arthur, Tryon’s living history program coordinator. “We think a gelatin dessert is easy; it’s just a box of Jell-O and boiling water. Back then, they were boiling calves’ feet, going through a purification process, using bladders of freshwater fish and deer antlers. It took a long time to do all of that.”

Arthur considers any 1700s recipe that involves gelatin to be a “power flex.” Those dishes demonstrated to the governor’s dinner guests that he had enough servants to pull off such complicated recipes. Food was a way for people of stature to show how wealthy they were without saying it.

Source: A Colonial Christmas at Tryon Palace | Our State