Each of the
officers' quarters was assigned to a single man. He lived in
luxury in comparison to the rank and file soldiers. In
addition to their own rooms and kitchens, the officers also had a
special anteroom. Before and after a meal, as well as when
off duty, the officers could retire here to engage in various
activities such as chess, dominoes, reading, or playing the
piano. Because visiting military and civilian guests would
be spending time in this room, the officers would want to be able
to show off the fact that they were of the upper class by
decorating the room with taste and elegance.
The officers had their own kitchens run
by a "Mess Man" who was usually a capable
sergeant. He would train mess servants. The cook was a
civilian, usually French, who was paid with or from mess
funds. The Mess Man was an enviable position because of his
connections to the officers and his access to good food.
food was of a better quality and more abundant.
Officers ate breakfast, lunch, high tea and the main meal of the
day, supper which would include several courses.
Each officer paid into a communal fund
for the upkeep of the mess which was decorated with regimental
mementoes, silver plates, cutlery, glassware. The mess was
the centre of social activities for the men and became an
institution that followed its members wherever they went.
As is evident in the different rituals
and qualities that revolved
around food, class structure filtered into every facet of people's
lives, even an event as simple as eating. In 1860, it was
difficult to escape your "breeding".