Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Swell Dinner Etiquette of 1894

Two different Victorian silver orange servers. One holds a half of an orange with two silver “pins” on chains. The other has silver “spikes” with which to twist the half of the orange onto to hold in place — “Pears and apples are peeled with a silver knife, cut in quarters and eaten with the fingers. Grapes should be eaten from behind the half-closed hand, the stones and skins falling into the fingers unobserved and thence to the plate. Oranges are eaten with a spoon. Salad is eaten with a fork, but needs a knife to cut large leaves that have not been divided before serving. Cheese is eaten with a fork, though soft cheeses are spread on a bit of cracker or bread and conveyed to the mouth by the fingers.”







One may be refined and elegant, yet unless continually given over to a round of social entertaining, may find one’s self at a loss when invited to some swell dinner where the latest fads are observed and more ceremonious etiquette required than for informal affairs just among the family. On elegant tables each plate is accompanied by two large silver knives, a small silver knife and fork for fish, a small fork for oysters, a tablespoon for soup and three large forks. 

The napkin is folded in the center with a piece of bread upon it. As the courses are served, the knives and forks and spoons that have been used, are removed with the plate. Fish should be eaten with a silver fork, and if full of bones, needs the use of the knife, as well. For sweet breads, cutlets, roast beef, etc., the knife is also necessary, but for croquettes, rissoles, bondies à la Reine, timbales and dishes of that class, the fork is required. 

When dessert is reached, everything save the tablecloth and floral decorations, is removed. A dessert plate with a small silver spoon, a dessert spoon and fork and sometimes a combination fork and spoon for ices, are placed before each guest. Pears and apples are peeled with a silver knife, cut in quarters and eaten with the fingers. Grapes should be eaten from behind the half-closed hand, the stones and skins falling into the fingers unobserved and thence to the plate. Oranges are eaten with a spoon. Salad is eaten with a fork, but needs a knife to cut large leaves that have not been divided before serving. Cheese is eaten with a fork, though soft cheeses are spread on a bit of cracker or bread and conveyed to the mouth by the fingers. 

Salt-cellars are now placed at each plate, and it is not improper to take salt with the knife. If sorbets are served before the game, a dessert spoon accompanies them, but it is not among the original number placed on the table The small after dinner coffee spoon is used with the tiny cups of the black beverage that concludes all dinners. The spoon is the most dangerous implement of the dinner, so far as its correct usage is concerned. Soup is always taken taken from the side and is eaten noiselessly. To push the spoon into the mouth either end first or otherwise, is decidedly vulgar. — Philadelphia Times, 1894



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia Etiquette Encyclopedia

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