Yesterday we learned how to set the breakfast table, 1823-style. It is now lunchtime, and the author of The footman's directory, and butler's remembrancer is once again our teacher.
Where there are children, they often have their dinner at the time their parents take their luncheon, in which case the cloth is in general put on the table, and some have it always laid for lunch. If there is any kind of meat brought up, have the salt, some dessert spoons, and a few large ones, with the carving knives and forks, if any thing to carve, and small knives and forks to eat with; have spring water, or toast and water with rummer-glasses, wine-glasses one for each person; set ready the chairs, and make the table look neat. If both hot and cold provisions are used, have hot and cold plates: if pies and puddings, let a dessert-spoon be put for each person; the small cheese-plates in general are used for lunch, as they take up less room. If the family have their lunch on a proper lunch-tray, which opens and shuts up with small hinges or springs, you must be very careful not to overload it at any time, for fear it should fly open and the things fall out and break.
Have a cloth over the tray, and put your things on it, as you would on the table: when full, turn up the ends of the cloth smoothly over the provisions, then fasten up the sides of the tray and carry it up; put it on the table which is intended for it, then put down the sides of the tray and properly adjust the things, so that they may be convenient. If there is no green cloth on the table, never push the tray along it, for if there should be the head of a nail or screw in the under part of the tray, it will make an incision in the table and spoil the look of it. Most trays of this sort have a green cloth pasted under them; if at any time you should find it gets loose, have some strong paste and fasten it on again. Some families have nothing for lunch, but bread or biscuits, and a glass of wine; in this case a small tray will do, with a napkin on it. It is very seldom that the servant is required to wait in the room at lunch, unless the younger branches of the family dine at that hour; but be sure to have a sufficiency of things for use: you may soon learn what is necessary if you pay attention. When all are done with, take the things down and put them in their proper places; fold the cloth carefully up, and if there is any plate dirtied, wash it up and put it into its proper place: if you have not time to do it just then, put it in a cloth and lock it up ; never leave it lying about, as in the day-time there are persons coming backwards and forwards to the house on business, or there may be workmen about, whom you may not know much of; besides, we should not expose the honesty of any one to temptation. Let your glasses be washed up, your knives wiped, and every thing put away that has been used, in order that you may have a clear place to set your dinner-things ready, and have the glasses, &c. clean.
Some staircases are so narrow that it requires great care to take the tray up without defacing the walls by knocking the paint off, or scratching them. Be careful to fix your foot firm upon the steps, to secure the safety both of your own limbs and of the things which you carry; never set any thing on the stairs, for fear any person should fall over it, as fatal accidents have arisen from inattention in this respect.
Here are a couple of nice luncheon dishes from 1823.
Cut a pound of good mellow chedder, Cheshire, or North Wiltshire cheese into thin bits; add to it two, and if the cheese is dry, three ounces of fresh butter; pound and rub them well together in a mortar till it is quite smooth.
When cheese is dry, and for those whose digestion is feeble, this is the best way of eating it; and spread on bread, it makes an excellent luncheon or supper.
A modern system of domestic cookery … by M. Radcliffe (Manchester, 1823)
[Veal] Breast,— (No. 38.)
From an hour and a half to two hours. Let the caul remain till it is almost done, then take it off, to brown it; baste, flour, and froth it.
Obs.—This makes a savory relish for a Luncheon or a Supper: if, when boiled enough, you put it in a cloth between two pewter dishes with a weight on the upper one—and let it remain so till cold, then pare and trim it—egg and crumb it, and broil, or warm it in a Dutch oven ; serve with it Capers, (No. 274,) or Wow Wow sauce, (No. 328.) Breast of Mutton dressed the same way.
The Cook's Oracle: …. by William Kitchiner (Second American edition, 1823)