Tuesday, October 13, 2009

After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.


When dinner is placed upon the table, if there is only on chief dish place it at the head of the table. If two, one to the host and one to the hostess. If three, one (the principle) at the head and the other two together near the bottom. If four, the two principle at top and bottom, the others at the sides. Six dishes can be arranged as for four. Seven will require three dishes down the middle of the tale and two on either side.

To be honest, I think I just plonk 'em down wherever they will fit. My bad...

Courses. - The order of the courses of a modern dinner should be as follows: the soup is usually preceded by an Hors 'dœvre, such as caviare, croûtons, sardines, oysters, or other little appétissants.

The First Course is usually soup, the second fish, then comes the entrées (made dishes). The next Course, joints, then poultry and game, and after these sweets, then savory dishes, then cheese and celery. When there are two roast meats they should be opposite colours, i.e., not two whites or two browns. Entrées require care in handling; there is nearly always gravy with them, and this must not be upset upon the cloth. The last arrangement of dishes - which cannot be called a course, seeing that the dinner is virtually over - the dessert comprises tastefull arranged fruits that are most in season.

Following is a specimen menu:-
Consommé a la Colbert
Turbot bouilli
Sauce aux Huîtres.
Filet de Bœuf à la Brillat
Tomate farcies à l'Italienne
Faisan bardé au Cresson.
Salase de Saison. Pommes frites.
Omelette à la Célestine.
Gelée aux Bananes.
Bonne Bouche.
Buissone d'Ecrevisse.
Clear Soup with Poached Eggs.
Boiled Turbot. Oyster Sauce
Braised Fillet of Beef.
Stuffed Tomates.
Roast Pheasant with Cress.
Chipped Potatoes. Salad.
Omelet with Preserved Fruit.
Banana Jelly.
Dressed Prawns.

I always just assumed sweets and dessert were meant to be the same thing and people were just being pretentious. However, it is evident in this context that they are completely different things. It also makes my 6 course meal into only 4 courses, because Hors d'œurves don't count as a course... and I would imagine neither does cake.

In giving a dinner it is far better to have a simple meal, which one knows will be properly cooked and serves, than to risk anything elaborate, for it is difficult to appear utterly unconcerned when one is harassed by petty cares, and a thoroughly good hostess is one who is able herself to enjoy, without anxiety, the dinner she is giving.

This is by far and away the most important point I think in the whole chapter. Emily Post also agrees that it is better to have a good simple meal than a bad elaborate one. Also on this note, it is hard to enjoy oneself with a giant burn on ones' hand as happened at a recent dinner of mine and put a pretty big dampner on the whole evening.

The temperature of the room is a very important subject that is often overlooked. It is not possible thoroughly to enjoy a good dinner in a room either too hot or too cold.

Particularly a hot cooked Christmas dinner on a 44oC day in Australia.

1 comment:

Packrat said...

Enjoyed this. Thanks. The advice about simply prepared meals and the temperature of the room is very helpful.

Personally, I do not like serving big meals at a sit down dinner. No one remembers to pass anything (my brother is the worst and he wasn't raised that way!) Since we don't have hired help, having food come in courses means somebody has to jump up from the table to bring in each course.

I was always taught that the food is passed to one's left. Is there any advice about that? Please?

Hope the burn is better. Burns are awful, but even the most experienced cooks get one once in a while. We should demand hazard pay. (Nah, then people would expect more from us. lol)