Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Gentlemens’ Suppers.

Some weeks ago I gave you some words of enthusiasm from The Stag Cook Book: Written by Men, for Men, (New York, 1922) – a book written for ‘That great host of Bachelors and Benedicts alike who have at one time or another tried to “cook something”, and who, in the attempt, have weakened under a fire of feminine raillery and sarcasm, only to spoil, what, under more favorable circumstances, would have proved a chef-d’œuvre.’

In past times, professional chefs and cooks in large establishments were usually men, but it was a rare male who ventured into the domestic kitchen. Perhaps this was for the reasons given above, more likely it was because it would have been seen as unmanly. Thank goodness for the passing of ‘The Good Old Days’, Yes?

In past times too – I speak here particularly of the nineteenth century – women did not dine in public, as it was seen as unladylike.  As a concession, they were allowed to watch, from the balcony, banquets given in honour of famous persons. Let’s hear another cheer for the passing of ‘The Good Old Days’. Men at the time commonly dined at their clubs, attended public dinners, and occasionally even entertained their male friends in their own homes. In the latter case, apart from the eccentric and impervious souls such as the inimitable Dr WilliamKitchiner, the actual preparation would most likely have been cooked by the female household cook, supervised by the mistress of the house.

The female author of Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving (1882) describes the arrangement, and gives a menu suitable for a gentleman’s supper. Although it is called a ‘fish supper’, only four of the seven courses are of fish or seafood. I cannot explain this.

Gentlemens Suppers.

As ladies have exclusive lunches, gentlemen have exclusive suppers. Nearly the same dishes are served for suppers as for lunches, although gentlemen generally prefer more game and wine. Ave be written at the end of the bill of fare.
If one has not a reliable cook, it is very convenient to give these entertainments, as the hostess has a chance to station herself in the cuisine, and personally superintend the supper.

One bill of fare is given for a fish supper:

1st Course.- Raw oysters served on a block of ice (the ice has a pretty effect in the gas-light)
2d Course.- Shad, maitre d'hotel sauce, garnished with smelts.
3d Course. - Sweet-breads and tomato sauce.
4th Course.- Boiled sardines, on toast.
5th Course.- Deviled chicken, Cunard sauce.
6th Course. - Fillets of duck, with salad of lettuce.
7th Course. - Mayonnaise of salmon, garnished with shrimps.
8th Course.- Welsh rare-bit
9th Course.- Charlotte Russe
10th course.- Ice-cream and cake

Deviled Chicken, with Sauce (Cunard Steamer)
The chicken is boiled tender in a little salted water. When cold, it is cut into pieces; these pieces are basted with butter, and broiled.
Sauce, - One teaspoonful of made mustard, two table-spoonfuls of Worcestershire sauce, three tablespoonfuls of vinegar; boil all together, and pour over the chicken. This dish is generally served on Cunard steamers for supper. Or, boil the chickens, cut them into pieces, pepper and salt them, roll them in flour, saute them in a little hot lard, and serve cream-sauce, the same as for fried spring chickens. This makes a good winter breakfast.

(FYI: It is noted elsewhere in the text that the recipe given above is useful 'when chickens are no longer very young.’)

Quotation for the Day.

In spite of all the Stoics can say, everyone must admit, that a stomach which is proof against all trials is the greatest of all blessings.
Launcelot Sturgeon (1823)

No comments: