Lobster Salad and Champagne

I’m obsessed by food…
The reason? I’m back on my diet after months of uncontrolled eating that included jelly beans, skittles, pretzels, triskets, and whatever else I wanted to eat. The result? Gaining back all I’d lost last year and then some.

I’ve been reading about different kinds of diets, even though I know I’ll go back to using Sparkpeople.com to count calories. I was reminded of Lord Byron making a vinegar diet all the rage. I never believed the vinegar story. I thought that was something he just made up. The following reminiscence of Samuel Rogers supported that idea:

When we sat down to dinner, I asked Byron if he would take soup ? ” No ; he never took soup.”—Would he take some fish ? ” No ; he never took fish.”— Presently I asked if he would eat some mutton ? ” No ; he never ate mutton.”—I then asked if he would take a glass of wine ? ” No ; he never tasted wine.”—It was now necessary to inquire what he did eat and drink ; and the answer was, ” Nothing but hard biscuits and soda-water.” Unfortunately, neither hard biscuits nor soda-water were at hand ; and he dined upon potatoes bruised down on his plate and drenched with vinegar.—My guests stayed till very late, discussing the merits of Walter Scott and Joanna Baillie.—Some days after, meeting Hobhouse, I said to him, ” How long will Lord Byron persevere in his present diet ? ” He replied, “Just as long as you continue to notice it.”—I did not then know, what I now know to be a fact,— that Byron, after leaving my house, had gone to a Club in St. James’s Street and eaten a hearty meat- supper. Reminiscences and Table-talk of Samuel Rogers

This fits perfectly with my impression of Lord Byron as being narcissistic and needing to call attention to himself.

But it turns out Byron suffered the same struggles as I’m facing. He was taller than I imagined at 5’10” and his weight fluctuated between 133 pounds, which sounds very thin (this is not like me), to 200 pounds (I’m not there yet). His battle with weight began when he entered Cambridge. In 1811 he began using cider vinegar to lose weight. Turns out Hippocrates used vinegar as a health tonic, so Byron’s use of it was not original.

Throughout his life Byron alternated between severely restricted eating to gorging himself. He most certainly had an eating disorder. In 1816, when in Switzerland with the Shelleys, his diet was:

A thin slice of bread, with tea, at breakfast — a light, vegetable dinner, with a bottle or two of Seltzer water, tinged with vin de Grave, and in the evening, a cup of green tea, without milk or sugar, formed the whole of his sustenance. The pangs of hunger he appeased by privately chewing tobacco and smoking cigars.

His diet may have been a factor in his death. He experienced a “fit” which he believed could be prevented by a strict diet of toast, vegetables, and cheese. Instead it may have weakened him.

I certainly will not be following such a rigid diet. I record my eating at Sparkpeople.com and stay within their caloric guidelines.

Byron did have advice for women dieting. He said:

A woman should never be seen eating or drinking, unless it be lobster salad and Champagne, the only true feminine and becoming viands.

Lobster salad and champagne??
I am sooo there.

This Wednesday The Unlacing of Miss Leigh, my Undone eShort Story, will be available at eHarlequin.com. Get it now!

Keira reminded me I should say that The Diamonds of Welbourne Manor will be available on eHarlequin.com on Weds, April 1. They always release a month early for mail order.

About diane

Diane Gaston is the RITA award-winning author of Historical Romance for Harlequin Historical and Mills and Boon, with books that feature the darker side of the Regency. Formerly a mental health social worker, she is happiest now when deep in the psyches of soldiers, rakes and women who don’t always act like ladies.
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29 Responses to Lobster Salad and Champagne

  1. I bought your Undone. I’ll be able to download it next week.

    Isn’t the anthology available yet? I thought they used to have them available a month earlier on the eHarq site in the past.

  2. Speaking of weight… I’ve lost about 20-odd pounds since I saw you last. Stopping this one pain med plus getting sick multiple times in India did the trick.

  3. bec_s says:

    Hi Diane,
    Thanks again for the Bootcamp workshop – lots of lightbulb moments.
    I’m trying to diet after having bub#3, but i could definately be lured by the champas. Not lobster though, maybe chocolate?

  4. My grandmother, who lived with us, had some leftover Victorian notions about women eating—that they should never, ever finish everything on their plate. She butted heads with my mom who lived through WW2 in Vienna where food was sometimes scarce.No wonder I’m a little schizo in my eating habits.

    Vinegar on French fries is a New England thing, you know. Yuck.

  5. Tina C says:

    Hey Diana

    Hey me too – the wii fit at last just says I’m overweight – I am no longer obese! Wahoo!
    But I would stand in line for the lobster – yummmm…. but hubby can drink the champers.

    Anyhow, just stopping by to say THANK YOU for your time over at our Bootcamp 209 – your character arc discussion has left a lasting impact on me, and I am back in my WIP seeing if it all fits, and changing where necessary to make it better.

    So thank you again.

    Bye 4 now

  6. Diane Gaston says:

    Keira, leave it to you to find my books before me!! Yes the Diamonds of Welbourne Manor will be on eHarlequin for order on April 1.

    Good for you on the weight loss but it is a heck of a way to do it.

  7. Diane Gaston says:

    bec and Tina, glad the workshop was helpful. I had fun!

    Everybody, I did an online workshop for RWAustralia…on Michaels Hauge’s view of the Character Arc. 7pm in the evening for me; 10 am the next day for them!

    Good job on the weight loss, Tina!!

  8. Diane Gaston says:

    Maggie, I’ve had vinegar on French fries….Yum….(don’t remind me)

    and I’ve certainly heard the adage that a lady never finishes anything on her plate…..guess I’m not a lady!!!!

  9. I don’t know whether to feel sorry for poor Byron or to laugh at him. Vinegar! Shudder! Although come to think of it I do love salt and vinegar potato chips and at vinegar on my fries (chips) when we lived in England. In Germany and Austria the big thing on fries was mayonnaise. Blech!

    Kudos on the weight loss, Keira! Now I really do have to diet so I can look good standing next to you in DC!

    Oh, I WISH I had been able to do the workshop, O Divine One. Sounds like it was a great one.

    Can’t wait to get my hands on your Undone story and The Diamonds anthology.

    Champagne? Not until I sell a book. Lobster, no can do. I’m allergic to all seafood. 🙁

  10. Joanna Waugh says:

    I’m intrigued by the mention of soda water and also seltzer. Particularly seltzer. I thought that a wholly 20th century invention. My interest is piqued!

  11. “Although come to think of it I do love salt and vinegar potato chips”

    Oh, yum! Target has these fabulous Sea Salt and Vinegar chips, but I can’t buy them anymore because I then eat the whole bag…

    And silly Byron! Too bad he didn’t know crash diets never work (though I tried my share when I was a teenager. Good thing Byron couldn’t get any SlimFast)

    Diane, I hope you will share some of the workshop here very soon!

  12. Vinegar is good on fish & chips, and ripe strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar are delicious…

  13. Diane Gaston says:

    I’m not so much appreciating all this talk of salt and vinegar potato chips and vinegar on fish and chips – maybe that’s why Byron gained weight!!

    But balsamic vinegar over strawberries? mmmmmmm I’ll have to give that a try. I use balsamic vinegar as a salad dressing.

    Joanna, I knew they had soda water in the Regency. I don’t know anything more!! Maybe a future blog topic

    Louisa and Amanda, my workshop was merely presenting Michael Hauge’s work…If he comes to RWA again, definitely go see him.

  14. azteclady says:

    Lobster salad and champagne, that’s one expensive diet!

    Here’s wishing you luck on the weight loss, Ms Gaston.

  15. Jane George says:

    And a man should never be seen bruising potatoes. Sheesh!

    I don’t really want to talk about diets. I got into the bag of Cadbury’s mini-eggs yesterday. Oops.

    Thanks for sharing about SparkPeople.

  16. learnonline says:

    Well, I’m not that interested in diets – not that I don’t need one, unfortunately – but I’ve always loved Lord Byron and its extravagant Romantic life. I’m happy I’ve learnt something completely new about him, his tastes and his eating habits.Interesting indeed!

  17. Lobster and champagne sounds divine. As usual, I am trying to lose weight, it’s harder now that I’m securely in my 40s. Boo. But at least I love veggies, and I am stubborn and cheap. I will not buy new clothes!

    Good luck with your diet, Diane.

  18. catie says:

    The infamous line regarding Byron comes to mind: “Mad, bad, and dangerous to know.” Having read your post on his diet I now think, is it any wonder? Dude was probably out of his mind with hunger! 🙂 Lord knows I get awful damn cranky without regularly scheduled feedings. *chuckles*

  19. Diane Gaston says:

    Catie, you made me laugh!!

    Maria, I too was surprised. I didn’t know this about Byron. Or that he was 5’10”! I thought he was short.

    Megan, I’m hoping to lose at least 10 lbs by the time we get to NYC! I’ll bet you are already skinnier than me.

    Janegeorge, I didn’t mention the two boxes of Valentine’s day chocolate I ate single mouthedly.

  20. Jane George says:

    Diane, I am now officially Jane George on Blogger. Hah. After only a “little” more than a year, I owned the technology yesterday. I am brilliant, I tell ya!

    I can now move on to the mastery of italics…

  21. Diane Gaston says:

    I hate change. I didn’t even NOTICE that you changed your name!!!! To Jane George, of all things….

  22. Ladyhawk says:

    I always felt quite sad for Byron. I remember reading about Lord Bryon and thinking he sounded manic-depressive. Then I read that Lord Byron actually did suffer from bipolar disease. Very likely, as his mother was institutionalized with the same problem.

    Salt and vinegar chips: An open bag is an empty bag. 🙂

    And a fresh spinach and strawberry salad with balsamic vinegar is divine. Mimi’s Cafe added it to their menu this last year. 🙂

  23. Since we’re all waxing poetic about strawberry and spinach salads with balsamic vinaigrette, let me add that that the addition toated walnut pieces adds infinitely to the taste.

    Diane, sheesh, it’s just my Risky citizenship rights that I find your books before you all do.


  24. Louisa, *snork*. All you have to do is flash that brilliant smile. Who’s gonna notice li’l ole Keira?!?!

  25. Diane Gaston says:

    Oh, I agree, Judy. Byron almost certainly had a mood disorder.

    Here’s an interesting write up about him and depression

  26. Diane Gaston says:

    Keira, I think you have devised the perfect Strawberry salad!!

    (for someone not-my-publicist, you do a great job!!!)

  27. Laurel Ann says:

    Thanks for the informative post on Byron and vinegar! It seems so like him to say one thing for attention and then do another. I am all for lobster salad and champagne also, though my budget could not afford it I fear.

  28. Nebula says:

    That scene about Byron’s eating habits is reenacted in the miniseries
    _Byron_ starring Jonny Lee Miller.

    What did you think of this film?

    I bought it recently never having seen it and I like his portrayal of Byron but thought second part of the series suffered. And I didn’t like how briefly and insipidly Mary Shelley appeared!

  29. Diane Gaston says:

    If this was the version I think it was, I didn’t like it either, Nebula. Isn’t his life just begging for a GOOD movie, though?

    More on Byron on Monday, April 6.

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