Friday, April 17, 2009

More on Ladies Who Dine in Public.

I just cannot resist picking up the story from yesterday. The good Lieut-Colonel Nathaniel Newnham-Davis provided a fine service for travellers as he manfully traipsed around Europe in the early twentieth century seeking out fine food, and noting those venues where it was suitable (or not) to take a lady.
From his book, The Gourmet’s Guide to Europe (1911) here are a couple of snippets of advice.

It is not wise to take ladies to the Cafes Cantantes, and certainly not wise for ladies to go there by themselves. I once saw a party of American lady tourists, who had walked into a cafe where some Flamenca girls were dancing, and had not orderedany refreshment, extricated at some risk from a threatening crowd by a Spanish-speaking Englishman.
The Bonvalet, which is painted brown du Temple outside up to the third story, and which has some big saloons for marriage feasts and banquets, is a house with some history attached to it. Under the name of the Cafe Turc, it was a fashionable gathering-place in the days of the First Empire. Ladies used to go there to sup, and as a concession to these fair visitors no smoking was allowed in the cafe.
Worthy of special mention … Bœuf a la Mode, of the Palais Royal. … The dish from which the restaurant takes its name is always on the bill of fare, and is served with due dignity on silver plates. I always find the cuisine at this restaurant excellent, and the prices moderate. It is an establishment at which I often see English ladies lunching without escort, and the proprietor, who is immensely proud of being allowed to supply our Queen Mother with woodcock pâtés, Champeaux, speaks English fluently.
All the world knows Maxim's as a rather noisy supping place, where the ladies are not all of the "upper ten" ; but comparatively few people know that it is a quiet but not unamusing restaurant at lunch and dinner time, and that its cookery is noticeably good.
The Hague, Holland:
Hock's fish shop in the market has a room where excellent oyster suppers are served ; but this is not a Hock's, Market place to which ladies should be taken Place at night, for it is then patronised by damsels who take the courtesy title of actresses, andthe students from Leiden.

Recipe for the Day:

There are an almost infinite number of variations of Bœuf a la Mode; here is just one of them, from The Art of Cookery, by John Mollard, published in

Rump Of Beef (à la Mode).
Bone the rump, lard it with slips of fat bacon seasoned with sweet herbs, beaten spices, pepper and salt. Bind it with packthread, put it into a braising pan, cover it with some veal broth, make it boil, skim it, and add a pint of Port wine, half a gill of brandy, some onions, turnips, celery, a few bay leaves, garlic, champignons, a little whole allspice, and a little mace. Stew till nearly done; take the meat out of the liquor, cut off the strings, wipe it dry, and put it into a clean stewpan; then strain the liquor, skim the fat off clean, season with Cayenne pepper, salt, a gill of vinegar, lemon pickle, and a small quantity of lemon juice; add a little colour, clear it with whites of eggs, and strain it through a tamis cloth to the beef. Stew gently till done, and serve in a deep dish.
To the liquor, when cleared with eggs and strained, may be added a passing of flour and butter, by way of thickening, if approved. The reason for clearing the liquor is, that it will then appear bright, either thickened or plain.

Quotation for the Day.

On Corn: It is not elegant to gnaw Indian corn. The kernels should be scored with a knife, scraped off into the plate, and then eaten with a fork. Ladies should be particularly careful how they manage so ticklish a dainty, lest the exhibition rub off a little desirable romance.
Charles Day, 1844

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