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Dinner Through the Ages: From Downton Abbey to Mad Men to Today

Historically, dinnertime has been a big deal. Especially when shared with family and friends, the meal is imbued with etiquette, attention to detail, and a sense of ceremony.

Our generation’s fascination with the dinnertime trappings of older eras, brought into pop culture through shows like Downton Abbey and Mad Men, indicate a yearning to bring back the best parts of those meal-sharing, social-gathering experiences. Perhaps we’d like our versions to be a bit less stuffy and rules-governed, yet still centered around great food, lively conversation, and dear friends.


Let’s take a couple of brief looks at how dinner used to be done.

Downton Abbey

Set in the 1910s and ‘20s, Downton Abbey makes for a somewhat stodgy example, replete with seating arrangements and place-settings so precise, you’d probably take out a tape measure to make sure everything was perfectly spaced.

It’s also the most grandiose example, requiring a full kitchen of personal chefs and servants to handle the up-to-22 courses.

A couple of dishes you might have had placed before you during this era include:

  • Boeuf Bourguignon

  • Raspberry Meringue Pudding

Mad Men

Set in the 1960s, Mad Men depicts a much more recognizable dinner party.  With the appearance of so many convenient kitchen appliances—like the toaster, coffee maker, waffle maker, can opener, and blender—nice meals could be created with fewer hands needed.

While the characters of Mad Men often seem more interested in cocktails than meals, you’d probably find their ‘60s real-life versions eating dishes like:

  • Deviled Eggs

  • Beef Wellington

  • Poulet à l’Estragon (Tarragon Chicken)

Today’s generation of hosts and hostesses likes hitting the sweet spot between casual and quality. We want to gather friends for dinner parties that strip away formalities; after all, we can enjoy ourselves with the nuance of etiquette—while caring greatly about what we’re actually eating.

After finding din-spiration in the meals of the past, you can look to meal-kit delivery service Plated for a curated guide of what to eat now. With seasonal ingredients, current trends, and responsibly sourced ingredients, we offer an array of dishes:

  • Vegan Chili

  • Fish Tacos

  • Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin

We portion the ingredients so you know exactly how much to use, and deliver the whole package to your door so you don’t have to scour the grocery store to create a homemade meal. With easy-to-follow instructions and less-than-30-minute cooking times, you’ll be able to mingle with your guests before bringing out your impressively delicious food.

Because the constants of dinnertime should always be great food and great people.

Get dinner started with four free plates.


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