Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Directions for Dinner Giving.

I am frequently wont to repeat my opinion that everything old becomes new again, sooner or later. I sometimes do wonder, however, if there is perhaps one exception to this rule. Will normal folks like us, ever, do you think, get back to hosting the sort of dinner party in our own homes that necessitated much advice from the likes of etiquette expert Emily Post?

From her famous book Etiquette in Society, in Business, and at Home, written in 1922, she gives the following Detailed Directions For Dinner Giving.

The requisites at every dinner, whether a great one of 200 covers, or a little one of six, are as follows:
Guests. People who are congenial to one another. This is of first importance.
Food. A suitable menu perfectly prepared and dished. (Hot food to be hot, and cold, cold.)
Table furnishing. Faultlessly laundered linen, brilliantly polished silver, and all other table accessories suitable to the occasion and surroundings.
Service. Expert dining-room servants and enough of them.
Drawing-room. Adequate in size to number of guests and inviting in arrangement.
A cordial and hospitable host.
A hostess of charm. Charm says everything - tact, sympathy, poise and perfect manners - always.
And though for all dinners these requisites are much the same, the necessity for perfection increases in proportion to the formality of the occasion.

Here, just in case, is a nice posh dish from a book especially written for posh English folks in 1893 – High Class Cookery Recipes, by Mrs. Charles Clarke of the National Training School for Cookery, in Buckingham Palace Road.

Civet de Lièvre
One hare
Half a pound of Bacon
Twenty-four Button Onions
Twelve Mushrooms
Bouquet Garni
Half a pint of Claret or Port Wine
Half a pint of Brown Sauce.

Cut the hare in neat pieces, wipe but not wash it; cut the bacon in strips, and fry in a saucepan; add the hare. Let it sauté about ten minutes. Add the claret, bouquet garni, and mushrooms; let this simmer gently one hour, then add the brown sauce and the onions, which should be previously blanched; let it simmer again for about half an hour, remove the bouquet garni, and serve with fried croûtons.

One gill of tomato sauce
Half a gill of glaze
One tablespoonful of chutney,

if added to this, makes a great improvement.

Quotation for the Day.

There are two things that are more difficult than making an after-dinner speech: climbing a wall which is leaning toward you and kissing a girl who is leaning away from you.
Winston Churchill.


Liz + Louka said...

Some of that advice is just so obvious! Who needs to be told that it's better to invite guests who are congenial to each other, that the ice-cream should be cold, that the host and hostess should be hospitable. The only things I wouldn't worry about are the table furnishing and servants - except for a formal dinner for 200, of course.

The Old Foodie said...

Wierd, isnt it? I cant manage a Drawing Room, never mind the servants.

Kathy Walker said...

I so enjoy your posts! I wonder what was in a brown sauce in 1893...I love the statement, "If added, makes a great improvement"!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello Kate. A brown sauce, classically means something like a Sauce Espagnole - but "gravy" would probably cover it much of the time! I will look out a couple of recipes of the time - a future post, methinks.