Below – An individual silver, Victorian orange dish, with inside “spikes” which hold the halved orange in place for graceful dining. Paired with a “Salem witch” orange spoon, with a gilded bowl to protect the sterling silver from citric acid. Salem witch spoons, by Daniel Low, are deemed by many to be the original souvenir spoons.
Specially designed orange spoons and footed orange dishes, with spikes for holding orange halves, were seen on the finest dining tables. Only those who were well-versed in etiquette knew how to use them, and eat their oranges properly.
In ancient times, Alexander the Great named what we now call “oranges,” “Median Apples” and “Persian Apples.” Considered the fruit of emperors and kings, oranges and orange groves were considered one's paradise. France's Louis XIV had his own: “His orangerie at Versailles was built in the shape of a ‘C,’ 1200 feet around, and was the scene of garden parties and masked balls.” And oranges were believed to be the “ultimate preventive” to the threat of a plague, according to physicians of the Italian Renaissance.
Above– The inside of a footed, tilted, Victorian orange dish.
Oranges were still considered a delicacy throughout most of the Victorian era. By the 20th century, after refrigerated railroad cars were invented, oranges reached the middle-class in the United States. In the early 1900’s, people in the United States used to consume more fresh oranges than all other fresh fruits combined, with their popularity soaring during the winter holidays. Though no longer considered a delicacy, oranges continue to hold a special place in children's Christmas stockings.
It is not customary to serve fruit as a first course at dinner, though at a lunch it is quite proper.
Oranges are seldom served at dinner anymore unless they are specially prepared, that is, with the skin taken off, and the sections divided, in which case the fruit is eaten from a fork.
Grape-fruit must be served ice cold. It is served in two ways: either it is cut in halves, midway between the blossom and the stem end, the seeds removed, the pulp loosened with a sharp knife, but served in the natural skin, to be eaten with a spoon; or the pulp and seeds are entirely removed from the skin with a sharp knife, and the edible part only served in deep dessert plates. Pulverized sugar should accompany grape-fruit. - From *Practical Etiquette by N.C., 1899
*Author's note : "The author is under obligation to so many persons for suggestions and advice, as well as to many authors, that it does not seem best to give a list of the same, especially as such list could be only a partial one, for many of her friends would not desire mention of their names."
N. C. Dec. 1, 1899
Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia