A follow-up of this post about 17th century French cuisine : crabsandlobsters asked me (a long time ago, but I’m only publishing this now) how many meals the people in the 17th century took per day, as part of her research for her Musketeers fic Ascendant. So here’s my answer to her, because I think it can be of help to other people who are writing Musketeers (or 17th-century France in general?) fic :
It seems there’s no completely set rule — I’m gonna digress a bit: for example, in Ancient Greece, it’s reported they had four meals a day, but intellectuals mainly ate one decent meal a day, with a very light meal in the morning that could barely be called that, while people who worked physically hard ate three meals a day, in the morning, at noon and in the evening much like we do.
In 17th century France, two meals a day seems about right indeed, and then you eat whatever you want in between when you are hungry and/or when you have the means to, kind of like hobbits I suppose (those in-betweens are what’s called in France “collation” or “en-cas”, in good bourgeois houses/aristocracy/royalty, “en-cas” were generally at the ready, especially for the night. Louis XIV, for example (who was Louis XIII’s son of course) during his reign had “en-cas” of three little bread rolls, water and wine always around and fresh). Dietary concerns about restricting the intake of food to three meals a day is, I think, a modern notion, even though regularity and not indulging in excess was certainly considered virtuous (but that dates back even to ancient times, greed is generally frowned upon).
Breakfast is called “déjeuner”, and it’s the first meal of the day, generally in the morning, and then you had a second meal around noon/in the middle of the afternoon (le “dîner”). It’s only at the end of the 18th century that that second meal is pushed back to the end of the afternoon/beginning of the evening, and around the same time that first meal of the day was split into two, the “petit-déjeuner” in the morning, and the “déjeuner” around noon.
(but, again, I think that’s mainly in the city and it depends on what was your occupation. In rural areas, for example, it’s more probable, according to what I read, that they had three meals a day, “déjeuner” in the morning, “dîner” around noon, and then “souper” at night — as the name indicates, a meal mainly based on soup)
It might amuse you to know that our good Louis XIII was reported by his doctor to have copious breakfasts in the morning, once, for example, made of ham and boar pâté, and pan-seared chicken in white sauce. His son Louis XIV was more frugal later on; apparently he only took either two cups of herbal tea or vegetable broth (from vegetables that had boiled all night) at 9 in the morning.
The taste for sweet things in the morning was developped in 17th century too; coffee and chocolate (chocolate was a drink approved by Jesuits during fasting periods, it was considered “lean”) started to replace milk and broth, and like I said in my post 17th century is the century of jam, and they sarted having that in the morning too.
So I guess to answer your question, they can eat pâté or roast in the morning and pâté or roast around noon without much differentation between the two meals I guess, certainly, but it’s in this century where lunch tends to be more savoury than what’s eaten in the morning. And concerning the quantity of food on each meal (either a lot in the morning or not), I suppose it depends on the person like with Louis XIII and Louis XIV
[ crabsandlobsters then had another question specifically about Athos and breakfast, here’s my answer]
I think Athos would probably skip breakfast, yes; especially after drinking all night, I’m not much of a drinker myself but I guess breakfast is not the first thing on your mind and you tend to skip it especially in a century where you don’t have the kind of soft/relatively sweet or neutral food you have in modern times, but stronger flavours, tougher textures. At the garrison… that might be another matter; if their training/day starts early in the morning, young musketeers might need something to hold (again, more physical effort=more meals in the day). In the show though it seems Athos and the others tend to report in quite late and/or whenever they want, and I guess they don’t need to train so much. Sorry for the digression, what I wanted to say was that breakfast is probably available at the garrison, something like boiled cereals with vegetables and/or coarse bread made with rye and wheat with broth or milk, if only for the young recruits, but probably not the fancy type with chocolate and jam that I was talking about.