Friday, November 23, 2012

Laying the Breakfast Table.

I cannot resist one more short extract from yesterday’s source, The Whole Art of Dining, with Notes on the Subject of Serving, (1921) by J. Rey. Many of you round about now will be reeling from a huge Thanksgiving dinner. You may not be able to face the thought of breakfast right now, but when you do, why not make it an elegant event to complete the holiday? Here are the instructions from our book of the day, for laying the breakfast table, English-style.

The method of laying the table for breakfast in England is the following:
To each cover lay a large steel knife and silver fish-knife to the right with their corresponding forks to the left, and a medium-sized spoon for porridge to the right of the knives, a fruit plate with d’oyley and finger bowl, and fruit knife and fork (the English and American custom being to begin the breakfast with fresh fruit), a small plate with the serviette and a roll with a small steel knife for butter to the left of the cover. To the right place a large cup and saucer (called breakfast cup.)
In the centre of the table place two sugar basins, one containing lump sugar and the other castor sugar, a cruet, iced water, and various kinds of fresh fruit according to season.

Here is one of the English Style breakfast menus given in the book:

Tea, Coffee, Cocoa,
Chocolate, Malted Milk
Fresh Fruit assorted
Stewed Fruit
Porridge and Cream
Grilled Mackerel
Grilled Turbot
Fried Soles
Finnon Haddock
Kippers, Bloaters
Grilled Fresh Herrings
Kedgeree, Fish cakes.
Fried Eggs and Bacon
Plain Omelette
Ham and Eggs
Poached Eggs on Toast
Grilled Kidneys
Calf’s Liver and Bacon
Grilled Gammon Rasher
Sausages and Mashed Potatoes
Grilled Tomatoes and Bacon
Grilled Mushrooms on Toast.

Other essential English breakfast items not specifically mentioned on the menu are discussed in the text:

As a general rule, breakfast is finished with honey or some preserve as marmalade, etc., or compôte of fruit (if this is not served at the beginning of the meal, as is frequently the case.) In England there is always a large variety of compote of fruit (fresh and preserved) kept in readiness on the buffet during breakfast.
As regards bread, instead of placing a roll on each cover, it is sometimes more convenient to place a silver basket or in place of this an ordinary plate with a serviette on the centre of the table containing an assortment of  rolls, crescents, and brioches, so that the customer may choose what he pleases. Butter and toast should always be on the table without waiting for a customer to ask for them.

The American Style breakfast menu given in the book includes Buttered Eggs – just the thing for a Friday morning breakfast, don’t you think?  Especially with tomatoes.

Buttered Eggs
Heat omelet pan. Put in one tablespoon butter; when melted, slip in an egg, and cook until the white is firm. Turn it over once while cooking. Add more butter as needed, using just enough to keep egg from sticking.
Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1906

Buttered Eggs with Tomatoes
Cut tomatoes in one-third inch slices. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, dredge with flour, and saute in butter. Serve a buttered egg on each slice of tomato.
Boston Cooking School Cook Book, 1906

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