Yesterday’s post hinted at the delights of a pink-themed luncheon or “tea” for ladies young and old, but it fell short of giving you an actual menu. As I noted yesterday, colour-themed meals were all the rage in the late 19th and early 20th centuries amongst the well-to-do – and as we all know, what the idle rich do, the not-so-rich aspire to. The Washington Post in the first decades of the 20th century ran a regular “Housewife’s Daily Economy Calendar”, and in the edition of February 26, 1913, the topic was “An Inexpensive Luncheon.” The article gave some menu suggestions not only for a pink luncheon, but also a yellow luncheon. Sadly, costs have risen considerably over the last one hundred years, but the menus tell the story:
The woman who refrains from entertaining just because she has little money to spend makes a mistake. The amount of money expended on a luncheon is no gauge of the amount of enjoyment those who partake of it will get. A luncheon for six can be prepared of food which costs only a dollar. Fifty cents more furnishes a more interesting meal, and provides table decorations as well.
A PINK LUNCHEON FOR $1.50
The woman who wants to entertain five friends for $1.50 may work out the following menu: Fruit in cups, jellied beef loaf and scalloped potatoes, quince or crabapple jelly, bread and butter, celery and apple salad, and charlotte russe.
The table can be decorated with 10 cents’ worth of pink crepe paper. If the hostess knows how to do it she can make lovely roses, one to lie by the side of each plate (the green paper for the stems cost on ly 1 cent), and she can cover small paper patty cases with petal-like pieces of the pink paper and use them for the charlotte russe.
A ten-cent bottle of maraschino cherries helps carry out the color scheme, and so does a glass of jelly, for which 10 cents is allowed. If the jelly is homemade it will cost less, and if it is bought it may cost more, but there may also be variation in the prices of some of the other foods, and so the jelly will be possible. Ten cents is allowed for bread and butter, and so, 30 cents for food and 10 cents for decorations is used.
Two grapefruits, two oranges, and sugar cost a quarter. The fruit is removed from the skin and decorated with the cherries. The beef loaf is made from 20 cents’ worth of shank of beef, simmered for five or six hours until the meat falls from the bone, then shredded and cut into small pieces, put in a tin to mold, and covered with the liquid in which it boiled, seasoned, and boiled down to about a pint. This should be made the day before, so that it will jelly. Five cents is allowed for potatoes and as much for butter and milk for the scalloped potatoes. Ten cents is allowed for the mayonnaise, 8 cents for the lettuce, 2 cents for apples, 5 cents for the inside of a stalk of celery. These expenditures bring the total up to $1.20.
Another $1.50 lunch could be carried out in yellow. The decorations could be 20 cents’ worth of daffodils. The menu could consist of cream of celery soup, 20 cents, rice and veal croquettes, 50 cents, new carrots, diced, 10 cents, creamed potatoes, 10 cents, pineapple and macaroons, 30 cents. Ten cents is allowed for bread and butter.
And the recipe for the day is ….
Put a lay of sliced cold boiled potatoes in the bottom of buttered pudding dish, sprinkle with crumbs and bits of butte. Put in another layer of potatoes and more crumbs until dish is full, having the topmost layer buttered crumbs. Moisten all by pouring in carefully a cupful of seasoned white stock. Bake 20 minutes.
Newport Daily News (Rhode Island) September 8, 1914
I could go for the potatoes. I'm not sure about the jellied beef loaf, though.
Color-themed ladies' parties were big in the old teens and twenties household magazines in my collection (The Delineator, Modern Priscilla). Green for St. Patrick's day, red white and blue for George Washington's birthday, pink or red for Valentine's Day.
I can't think of much that would be less appetizing than food tinted all of one color -- I think the St. Patrick's Day menu called for pea soup, lettuce salad, and some kind of mint gelatin
-- but I suppose the novelty appealed to some.
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