Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Luncheon, again.

I was going to skip luncheon today (as a topic, not as a meal – do you think I am crazy?), because I have talked about it before in previous posts (including the origin of the word, and good lunchtime manners, and what to serve at a Shooting Lunch). I came across some enlightening comments, however, which suit our theme of the week perfectly. They are from a lovely book on etiquette called Etiquette of Good Society (1893), by Lady Gertrude Elizabeth Campbell.

Lady Campbell expounds rather disapprovingly, but resignedly, to the new fashion of ‘luncheon’, proving to us that although we have ‘lost’ some meals (such as ‘dewbit’), we have also gained others. She writes:

“Luncheon has been defined as an insult to one's breakfast and an outrage to one's dinner. It is clearly an interpolation of no very ancient date. Three meals a day - breakfast, dinner, and supper - were formerly considered as amply sufficient; but now two more have added themselves to the list, and shouldered out to a great extent the old-fashioned after-dinner tea and supper. Luncheonis one of these extra " feeds " which has squeezed itself firmly in, and now the half-hour devoted to this meal is considered indispensable. We leave it to the decision of the medical community whether long abstinence or the too frequent supplying of the inner man is the most deleteriousto health. Luncheons are fairly established in most households. Sometimes they answer the purpose of dinner, and then they require to be more substantial, but still should only exhibit "an elegant sufficiency.”

Lady Campbell goes on to discuss the informal nature of an ordinary lunch – noting that informality is one thing, but ‘An elegant disorder is perfectly distinct from a vulgar confusion.’ A fine distinction, methinks, and I am grateful to Lady C for the statement, which I will apply henceforth to a number of areas of my life.

For the recipe for the day – for your next elegantly sufficient and elegantly disordered luncheon, I have chosen a dish from a cookbook written by another aristocrat – Lady Clark of Tillypronie. Her extensive recipe collection was published in 1909, after her death, but the recipes themselves clearly date back a long way.

Luncheon Cake. No. 2 (Small and very light)
1 lb. flour, ¼ lb. butter, same weight sugar, 3 eggs beaten together ready in a basin, 1 oz. German yeast dissolved n ¼ pt. warm milk and strained, 2 oz. sultana raisins, 2 oz. citron peel.
First rub the butter into the flour, next stir in the yeast and milk; add the fruit, then the 3 eggs; mix all together and pour into the tin, which it should about half fill; let it rise to top of tin before baking in a slack oven. It will take1 to 1 ¼ hours.

Quotation for the Day.

The word lunch is adopted in that ‘glass of fashion’, Almacks, and luncheon is avoided as unsuitable to the polished society there exhibited.
H.Best, Pers. & Lit. Mem. 1829.

1 comment:

EB said...

I'm all for the reinstation of dewbit!