Bizarre and stodgy diet of Victorian Cambridge university scholars has just been discovered.
The bizarre and shocking eating habits of Victorian scholars have been revealed in documents found in a university archive.
Students at Cambridge’s Girton College survived on a relentless round of stodge, meat and more stodge, according to work records recently discovered.
The academics would eat several meals a day – all including meat – starting off with cooked breakfast typically consisting of egg, ham and or fish.
Works records from 1896 to 1903 show that every dinner was finished with heavy boiled or backed desserts, with stodgy sago a prominent ingredient.
Sago – a carbohydrate-starch found in some palm trees – and was blended with water to form a paste-like pudding base.
Dinner at Girton college was always served with a baked or steamed pudding: Baked Tapioca, Capital Pudding, Castle Pudding, and Vermicelli Pudding, to name a few.
Sago Pudding is made with Sago, water and sugar, and frequently featured, on Girton’s menu, alongside Steamed Sago, Sago Shapes, and even Sago Soup.
The majority of the puddings on the menu at Girton – which was a women only college – would not be so popular today, formed of ingredients like boiled rice, rum and sugar.
Girton became the first Cambridge women’s college to admit men in 1976.
Hannah Westall, Girton’s archive specialist, said: “The books are fascinating to look at.
“It would have been a working archive, which makes it them all the more interesting.”
The three menu books in Girton’s archive reveal a glimpse of life in the college between 1896 and 1903, showing pictures of the food halls, and recipes of the meals eaten there.
Though it is unclear as to why exactly the books were kept, the detail inside them brings to life what Cambridge was like in the years around 1900.