Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Etiquette of Gilded Age Breakfasts

                                               
Fruit at breakfast does not necessarily demand a waitress. In may be served at each cover before the guests and family seat themselves. It does call for a finger bowl, however. Only when berries or sliced fruits are served can the finger bowl be omitted.


Breakfast is the first meal of the American day. It should be daintily and deftly served. Fruit, cereal and some main dish (bacon, fish, eggs) together with toast, hot rolls or muffins, coffee, tea or cocoa, are its main essentials. The bare, doilied table is popular for breakfast use.


BREAKFAST FRUIT


Fresh pears, plums, peaches, apricots, nectarines, mandarins and apples are all served in the same manner—on a plate about six inches across, with a silver fruit knife for quartering and peeling. If a waitress serves, fruit knife and plate are placed first, and then the dish containing the fruit is passed.

Berries—raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, strawberries, as also baked apples, stewed fruits (peaches, prunes and apricots) and all cooked fruits, are offered in little fruit dishes on service plates, together with powdered (or fine granulated) sugar and cream. Strawberries are sometimes left unhulled, when of “exhibition” size. They then should be served in apple bowls or plates, with powdered sugar on the side.


In serving grapes, the waitress, after supplying fruit plates, passes a compote containing the grapes and offers fruit shears, so that each guest may cut what he or she desire. Cherries are served in the same manner, with the addition of a finger bowl.


When grapefruit is served, it is usually as a half, the core removed and sugar added, on a fruit plate or in a grapefruit bowl, together with an orange spoon.


Oranges may be served from a compote, whole, and may be eaten cut crosswise in halves, with the orange spoon; or peeled and eaten in sections. If oranges are served peeled and sliced on a fruit plate they may be eaten with a fork. Sugar should always be passed when they are eaten in this way. Orange juice is the extracted juice served in small glasses two-thirds full.

                                                        
Oranges may be served from a compote, whole, and may be eaten cut crosswise in halves, with the orange spoon; or peeled and eaten in sections.
Cantaloupe (filled with cracked ice) and honeydew melon (it is smart to accompany the latter with a slice of lemon) are served in halves or quarters, on fruit plates (or special melon dishes) and eaten with a fruit spoon. Sugar, salt and pepper should be offered with these by the waitress. Watermelon is usually cut in wedges or circles. It should always be served very cold, on a large fruit plate, and with fruit knife and fork. If half-melons are served, with the rind, the host cuts egg-shaped pieces from the fruit, and places it on individual plates for passing by the waitress.


Bananas may be served “in the skin” at breakfast, or peeled and sliced, with sugar and cream, or sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.


Shredded pineapple, sprinkled with sugar, or sliced pineapple (slices an inch thick) may be served from a large dish by the waitress.


Fruit at breakfast does not necessarily demand a waitress. In may be served at each cover before the guests and family seat themselves. It does call for a finger bowl, however. Only when berries or sliced fruits are served can the finger bowl be omitted.

Bananas may be served “in the skin” at breakfast, or peeled and sliced, with sugar and cream, or sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice.
CEREALS

Cereals are a matter of personal taste. Cooked cereals, such as oatmeal, rolled oats, hominy, corn-meal mush and cracked wheat should come on the table hot, and be served in bowls with sugar (brown sugar, if preferred) and cream. Again, the host may serve the cereal from a large porringer, the waitress bringing him the individual bowls, and taking them to the guests when filled. Dry cereals are served in the same way. Puffed grains or flakes gain crispness and flavor when reheated, not browned, before serving.

TOAST

The best breakfast toast is that made at the table over an electric toaster. Be sure, if you have French toast, hot cakes or waffles served, that they come from the kitchen hot. A perforated silver cover should cover the plate containing them to prevent their cooling. Never use a soup plate or bowl for the purpose! The steam cannot escape and the toast grows soggy. Do not forget syrup when waffles, hot cakes or French toast are served. Some prefer cinnamon and sugar to syrup with hot cakes, and they should also be on hand.

BACON

Bacon is the ideal breakfast meat. The rasher of bacon should be served piping hot on a hot silver platter, in crisp, curling slices. Incidentally, it should be just as crisp when it appears with a favorite companion, as “bacon and eggs.”

EGGS

Cooked in the shell (medium or soft-boiled) eggs should be served in an egg cup or egg glass, on a plate, and under cup or glass. Each egg thus served should be accompanied by a silver egg cutter and (unless there is plenty of silver at the cover) a silver spoon.

A vegetable dish or a small plate will do for the hard-boiled egg.

Poached eggs appear in individual shirred egg dishes, to the left of each cover, on small plates with service spoon.

Scrambled eggs are served in individual portions, as above; or distributed by the host from a large platter, and passed by the waitress.

Omelet should be served on a large platter with hot individual service plates before the host. The waitress may pass the individual portions or—it is customary with scrambled eggs—they may be passed from host to guest around the table.

                                                    
Coffee is the favorite and logical breakfast drink, though some prefer tea, cocoa and milk. When tea is the breakfast beverage the samovar takes the place of the percolator.

COFFEE

Coffee is the favorite and logical breakfast drink, though some prefer tea, cocoa and milk. The breakfast coffee service should be placed before the hostess. In its most attractive form it comprises a large silver tray, which holds coffee (or percolator), the hot-water pot, creamer, sugar bowl with tongs, and cups and saucers. (There may also be a bowl for the water used to heat the cups.) When tea is the breakfast beverage the samovar takes the place of the percolator.


The large silver service platter may be dispensed with, if desired, in favor of a tile to hold the coffee urn, the other components of the service being grouped about it. There is a charming touch of intimacy about coffee made at the table with an electric percolator, poured by the hostess and passed at the table (or by a waitress). When the hostess pours she should at the same time ask the guest’s preferences (those of members of the family are supposed to be known) as regards cream and sugar. Cream and sugar always enter the cup first! The true coffee-drinker at once notices a difference in flavor if the coffee first be poured, and the cream and sugar added.

FOR THE CHILDREN
 
If the children eat breakfast with the family, a regular child’s service, with attractive little knives and spoons should be provided, and his whole service, preferably, should be arranged on a tray near the table’s edge. Every child likes to have his own porridge bowl, his mug and little milk pitcher, and having his own table tools teaches him to be neat and self-reliant.
–From Lillian B. Lansdown




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