Austen Authors at RT
This month was the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and, as a first-timer at the event, all I can say is WOW…what a fascinating, free-spirited week of activity! Between publisher parties, various author appearances, book signings, seeing friends from across the romance-writing world and going to workshops and gatherings, it was BUSY!! But, for me, one of the coolest parts was getting together with my fabulous AuAu pals (pictured left: Karen Doornebos, C. Allyn Pierson, Abigail Reynolds, Sharon Lathan and me) and giving a program on popular drinks during the Regency.
My beverage of choice was rum punch — a drink I happen to like quite a lot, even in the modern era! As someone who’s fond of sweet and fruity cocktails in general, I found rum punch to be light, tangy and refreshing, and, in my opinion, extremely easy to make.
Also, being that my Austen book, According to Jane, is a contemporary story, I wanted to feature a recipe that would be familiar to the characters in my novel. Readers might remember that spiked punch was served at Ellie’s post-prom dance, and that there was rather a lot of rum consumed (along with a little Coke) in Sam’s car one night…
During Jane Austen’s time, rum punch was an extremely popular drink — one that had become available when trade began to open up between Europe and the Far East. Its name was derived from the Persian word Panj and the Hindu word Panch, both meaning five, which refers to the number of ingredients traditionally used in the beverage. Originally, it was a strong mixture of arrack, water, lemon juice, sugar and spices, but a more expensive and elaborate concoction was later created called “Regent’s Punch.” That drink often contained a number of additional ingredients, such as brandy, champagne, green tea and curaçao.
Drink Recipe for Rum Punch
My basic rum punch recipe, however, calls for only rum, fruit juices and a dash of bitters and grenadine. For those who like a hint of spice, top with a sprinkle of nutmeg — it adds an interesting touch. Check out my RT recipe card for the beverage. I’m telling you, it couldn’t be simpler!
Whether Jane herself was making punch in her kitchen or enjoying it at her dining room table at Chawton, I cannot say for sure…I do know that it was fascinating to visit her house and get to imagine what it must have been like for her to live there day to day. Many of you may have seen photos from inside her home before — and I think most Austen fans have, at some point, viewed images showing the outside of it — but I thought I’d include a few of mine from my visit in March. I hope you’ll enjoy a little peek at my personal Chawton photo album:
The kitchen at Chawton
I’ll admit, I was tempted to grind something up when I saw these bowls on the table, not that I can cook at all without the use of a food processor and a microwave… We have it so easy these days, don’t we?!
Tea service, caddy, cups
I love this cabinet showing her teapot, wooden tea caddy and lovely cups.
- An instrument similar to what Jane would have had…
And, of course, there is the classic shot from outside of the house. We had such a gorgeous spring day!
I’d wanted to visit Jane’s house for a very long time, so it was inspiring to finally get to see it in person…
What are some of the things you’re looking forward to doing in May? For me, I have several fun book club events coming up (online all month with B&N’s General Fiction Book Club
– anyone can join in! — and two face-to-face gatherings with a couple of fabulous Illinois clubs), and I’m really excited about those. Since I kill helpless plants on contact with my two very black thumbs (!!), I will not
be planting a garden, but my husband and son most likely will. Love seeing the beautiful spring flowers all around… Wishing you all a wonderful rest of the month!!
Marilyn Brant is a USA TODAY Bestselling Author of Contemporary Women's Fiction and Romantic Comedy. She's published eight novels to date, including ACCORDING TO JANE, which was a #1 Kindle Bestseller, won RWA's Golden Heart Award and was named one of Buzzle.com's "100 Best Romance Novels of All Time." She also wrote PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH, which was a Top 100 Bestseller on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. And her latest novel, a coming-of-age romantic mystery called THE ROAD TO YOU, is just out!