How Queen Elizabeth Has Impacted What We Eat and Drink
The reign of Queen Elizabeth II has spanned seven decades so far, and as royal-watchers raise a glass to toast her Platinum Jubilee celebrations, it's a good time to examine how she has impacted the food that shows up on dining tables around the world. Former Buckingham Palace chef Darren McGrady offers a peek behind the curtain and into the royal dining room in his book, Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen, just re-released for the Jubilee.
McGrady, who was Queen Elizabeth's personal cook for 15 years, shares in his book that she has simpler eating habits than what you might expect. Sure, menus from state dinners and other elegant celebrations fit the glamorous fantasies many people harbor. But in her day-to-day life, the Queen does not, despite our imaginings, snack on caviar. In fact, her diet at home is pretty quotidian, albeit prepared by trained chefs. She eats a simple breakfast of toast with marmalade, and when not entertaining, sticks to light lunches and suppers featuring vegetables and proteins like chicken or fish. McGrady shares in his book that she abhors dishes with garlic or too many onions. These slightly abstemious leanings might make her diet sound austere, but she does allow for certain food and drink indulgences. Some of the Queen's preferences are well-known; favorites like poached salmon, delicate tea cookies, and scones with jam and clotted cream are widely popular. Here are a few others:
The queen's love of gin is so strong that she's even released her own gins from Buckingham Palace and Sandringham House, made with ingredients from the gardens at each. She prefers to drink them in a good gin cocktail, either a gin martini or gin and Dubonnet.
Earl Grey Tea
The queen begins every day with a pot of this traditional bergamot-scented black tea, taken with milk and no sugar. Her devotion to the flavor has made it popular throughout the world, making it the fifth most popular tea flavor globally, according to Fresh Tea. It is the tea most associated with royalty in general and Queen Elizabeth specifically, and there is no question that its popularity is enhanced by being her majesty's favorite cuppa.
Crustless Tea Sandwiches
Traditional British afternoon tea goes back to the 1840s, when the Duchess of Bedford imagined a light meal to bridge the gap between lunch and dinner. Queen Elizabeth has adhered to a daily teatime meal, and her personal preference for delicate sandwiches with the crusts cut off is well-publicized. Her favorite version is reported to be smoked salmon with cream cheese.
Light Dinners of Game Meats and Wild-Caught Fish
If the old adage is true, one should eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper. Queen Elizabeth seems to have taken this to heart and in the name of preserving her energy through a long day and full work schedule, eats lighter meals at night. Dinners are usually composed of simple proteins and vegetables. A longtime sportswoman, Queen Elizabeth frequently dines on venison, wild birds, or other game, often sourced on one of her properties, or salmon fished from the River Dee at Balmoral Castle. The queen's preference for game meats even extends to more casual meals; she is, reportedly, a big fan of hamburgers, and usually has them made with ground venison. She usually skips any potatoes, pastas or grains at her evening repast, but almost always has room for dessert.
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
The queen has a legendary love of sweets, especially anything chocolate. And this one packs a chocolate punch. Widely known as the Queen's favorite tea cake, this is the only one she asks for daily as long as it is around, according to the royal chefs. She's even had the chef transport leftovers by train from Buckingham Palace to Windsor to ensure not a morsel is wasted. This is a classic "icebox" style cake using simple tea biscuits suspended in an egg-enriched ganache and then chilled before coating in a thin layer of chocolate. For mere mortals, the ability to make a simple no-bake dessert like this is made even more fun by the royal connection. So if you have ever layered cookies with whipped cream or pudding and chilled to make a cake? Consider it a dessert fit for royalty.