We have lost the art of setting and decorating a dinner table it seems. In return for this lost art we have the convenience of being able to eat anywhere any-time - on the run, in the car, standing at the kitchen bench, out of a take-away box, or in front of TV. It was very different in the baron’s day.
DECORATIONS OF THE DINNER TABLE.
How to lay the covers.
Formerly dinner-tables were heavily decorated with massive bronze, silver, and cut-glass ornaments, which prevented the guests from seeing each other across the table, and rendered conversation with your opposite neighbour impossible. At the present time, these ornaments have been superceded by low flower-baskets of either glass or silver. Formerly candelabra only held four or five candles, now they hold as many as fourteen or fifteen, so we require fewer and have more light.
Each guest must have a tumbler and three wine-glasses placed on his right-hand side, arranged according to the order in which the wines are served. First,
The dessert plates must always have a doiley and a finger-glass placed on them.
I do hope that little historic reminder inspires you to dust off the candelabra lurking in the back of your cupboard, and to wash and iron your doiley collection. When you have done that, here is the baron’s menu suggestion for today.
Menu for August 17.
Potage à l’ oiselle à la crème.
(Sorrel soup with cream).
(Stewed carp, pike, perch, barbel, and eel).
Canard au navets.
(Stewed duck and turnips).
Quartier d’agneau rôti.
(Roast forequarter of lamb)
Pêches à la Bourdaloue.
(Peaches à la Bourdaloue).
Today’s recipe choice is unequivocally, classically French:
Stewed duck and turnips.
Truss your duck and brown in a stew-pan with some fresh butter, peel and cut some young turnips into equal sizes and brown in the same butter, stir in a little powdered sugar. Reduce some stock to a thin brown sauce, season with salt, pepper, a bouquet of parsley, chives, half a head of garlic, and laurel [Bay] leaves, stew the duck in this sauce, and when half cooked add the turnips, turn the duck from time to time, and be careful not to break the turnips, cook over a slow fire. Clear the sauce of all grease, and serve.
Monday’s Story …
Advice to picnic parties.
Quotation for the Day ….
The French are sawed-off sissies who eat snails and slugs and cheese that smells like people's feet. Utter cowards who force their own children to drink wine, they gibber like baboons even when you try to speak to them in their own wimpy language. P. J. O'Rourke