1814’s Norwegian constituent assemblymen dined well / Columns / The Foreigner

1814’s Norwegian constituent assemblymen dined well. Food for thought can sometimes be a weighty and costly affair in Norway. The Riksforsamling (“the National Assembly”) convened at Eidsvoll Manor on Sunday 10th April 1814. This was the residence of Norwegian businessman, politician, and Managing Director of the Eidsvoll Iron Works Christian Anker (1840-1912). Popularly called Eidsvollmenn (“Eidsvoll Men”), the 112 Assemblymen were charged with the task of writing a Constitution. Joined by Crown Prince Christian Frederik, who had called the Assembly, they finished their task and came to agreement on 17th May, and the Constitution was signed the day after. They departed on Friday 20th May 40 days after they started, task finished.

norwayconstitution, 17thmay, constitutionbicentennial, eidsvoll



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1814’s Norwegian constituent assemblymen dined well

Published on Sunday, 6th April, 2014 at 09:03 under the columns category, by M. Michael Brady.

Food for thought can sometimes be a weighty and costly affair in Norway.

Consituent Assembly at Eidsvoll, 1814
Weighty matters required weighty fare.Consituent Assembly at Eidsvoll, 1814
Photo: Oscar Wergeland (1844–1910)/Wikimedia Commons


The Riksforsamling (“the National Assembly”) convened at Eidsvoll Manor on Sunday 10th April 1814. This was the residence of Norwegian businessman, politician, and Managing Director of the Eidsvoll Iron Works Christian Anker (1840-1912). Popularly called Eidsvollmenn (“Eidsvoll Men”), the 112 Assemblymen were charged with the task of writing a Constitution.

Joined by Crown Prince Christian Frederik, who had called the Assembly, they finished their task and came to agreement on 17th May, and the Constitution was signed the day after. They departed on Friday 20th May 40 days after they started, task finished.

The accomplishments of the Eidsvollmenn have been thoroughly studied, biographies of many of them have been written. But not much has been written on their lives during those six weeks at Eidsvoll Manor until now. How, for instance, had they dined? That recently intrigued Liv Berit Tessem, an Aftenposten journalist and author of books on the royal house.

She probed Riksarkivet (“The National Archives”) to find that copious data were available on all aspects of what the Eidsvollmenn ate and drank. She found the six weeks had been a catering binge (further reading) at a total cost to the State of 73,000 Riksdalar – equivalent to NOK 30 million in 2014 purchasing power.

Though festive for its time, the fare differed markedly from todays’. Fish are barely mentioned – save for some perch and lake herring. Eidsvoll building (ca. 1870)
Eidsvoll building (ca. 1870)
Joachim Christian Geelmuyden Gyldenkrantz Frich
Only 70 kg of potatoes were consumed, and there were few vegetables on the menus otherwise.

Meat was another matter. It came from animals that had come to Eidsvoll alive, on their own feet, which were slaughtered as needed. In all, 150 calves, 40 heifers, 14 cows, 3 bulls, 4 rams, 2 lambs, 14 kids and 7 unspecified animals were consumed.

Lesser amounts of game were served: 56 rabbits, 4 geese, 77 grouse, 5 capercaille (wood grouse), 1 capercaille hen, and 3 black grouse. Rye was a staple; some 2.6 tons were used to make the bread and crisp bread eaten with meals and at breakfast. Some 430 kg sugar, 125 kg coffee, and 300 kg butter completed the list of comestibles.

Tipples, however, were in a class by themselves. Some 2000 litres of wine – equivalent to 40 centilitres per day per man – and 2500 litres of distilled spirits, equivalent to half a litre a day per man, were drunk. The high consumption of spirits apparently was partly due to the custom of having a shot of spirits in the morning after a breakfast of rye porridge.

There are a few unspecified items in the food and drink accounts, most for delicacies served at the Crown Prince’s table by his French chef, Mr. Beauvin. Each evening, 12 Eidsvollmenn were invited in alphabetical order to dine with the Crown Prince, an egalitarian practice sensational for its time.

Today, Eidsvoll Manor, now known as Eidsvoll House (Further reading), has been restored to its grandeur of 1814 and now has a cafe that offers samples of dishes served to the Eidsvollmenn.

Further reading:




Published on Sunday, 6th April, 2014 at 09:03 under the columns category, by M. Michael Brady.

This post has the following tags: norwayconstitution, 17thmay, constitutionbicentennial, eidsvoll.





  
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