Sunday, November 28, 2021

Gilde Age Food and Drink Etiquette

“The menu of to-day is simple. It consists of oysters or clams, according to season, soup, fish, entrée, roast and vegetables, game and salad, ices and dessert… In New Orleans, boiled shrimps are often served at small dinners. The skins and heads are on, and you remove these with your fingers. After this course, finger bowls with orange leaves are passed around, and the perfume of the water will remove the odor of fish from your fingers.”

I have compiled a list of certain viands, which society does require should be eaten at a special meal and in only one manner…

Breakfast and Luncheon Dishes

Eggs —It is much better form to have egg cups than egg glasses for boiled eggs. Cut the top of the egg off with a dexterous blow of a sharp knife and eat it in the shell with a small egg spoon.

Sugar —Lump sugar if served is always taken with the sugar tongs.

Butter —Butter is only served at breakfast or luncheon. It is passed around in a silver dish, with a little silver pick with which to spear it. Butter plates—i. e., the small round silver or china affairs—have given place to bread and butter plates, which are of china and are somewhat larger than an ordinary saucer. The butter plate of a few years ago was never seen outside of America, and is now destined to vanish from our tables. It is needless to add that butter is never served at dinner.

Radishes —Radishes appear at luncheon. Put them on your bread and butter plate and eat them with a little salt.

Cantaloupes are served cut in half and filled with ice. They are eaten as a first course, a fork being better to eat them with than a spoon. Salt is the condiment to use with them, but sugar is allowable. In southern climates they are sometimes served at dinner as a separate course between the fish and roast. This is a Creole custom.

Grape fruit is served as a first course (vide chapter Diner-Out) at a late breakfast or luncheon. It is eaten with a spoon.

Dinner

The menu of to-day is simple. It consists of oysters or clams, according to season, soup, fish, entrée, roast and vegetables, game and salad, ices and dessert. Sorbets or frozen punches are not served, except at public banquets and hotel table-d'hôtes.

Oysters or clams are placed on the table in plates for the purpose before dinner is announced. They are imbedded in ice and arranged around a half-sliced lemon, which is in the middle of the plate. Oysters or clams are eaten with a fork only. Gourmets say that they should not even be cut with it, and should be swallowed whole. I would not advise any one to try this with large oysters. The oyster fork is the first in the number of the implements placed beside your plate. Condiments, such as pepper and salt, will be passed you. Sauterne is served with oysters.

Oyster cocktails have been in vogue in place of oysters. These are a mixture of the bivalve with Tabasco sauce and vinegar, and they are said to be excellent appetizers. They are eaten with a small fork from cocktail glasses. Bachelors frequently serve them in place of oysters.

Soup —At large and formal dinners a clear soup is in vogue. Your soup spoon will be on the knife side of your plate. Soup is eaten from the side and not from the end of the spoon. The motion of the hand guiding the spoon is toward and not from you. Take soup in small spoonfuls, and use your napkin in wiping your mouth and mustache after each, especially if the soup is thick or a purée. This will avoid the dripping of that liquid from your upper lip. Never after this operation throw your napkin back into your lap with the greasy side toward your clothes, but use the inside of it for this purpose.

Fish is eaten with a silver fish fork. Chasing morsels of fish around your plate with bits of bread is obsolete. Silver fish knives have been put in use, but they are not generally the vogue.

Cucumbers are served with fish on the same plate. Little plates or saucers for cucumbers, vegetables, or salads are bad form.

Sherry is served with fish.

Celery, olives, and salted almonds are placed on the table in small dishes. Sometimes the guests are asked to help themselves, but at formal dinners they are passed around after the fish. Celery is eaten with the fingers and dipped in a little salt placed on the tablecloth or on the edge of your plate. It is also served as an entrée raw, the stalks stuffed with Parmesan cheese. It should then be eaten with a fork.

Entrées require a fork only. Among these are patties, rissoles, croquettes, and sweetbreads.

Mushrooms are eaten with a fork, and served as a separate course in lieu of an entrée.

Terrapin is served sometimes in little silver saucepans either as an entrée or as fish, and again in a chafing dish, and sometimes with salad. It is more of a supper than a dinner plate, and should be eaten with a fork.

Asparagus is eaten, except in the intimate privacy of your own family circle, with a fork. Cut the points off with the end of the prongs. The stalk or white part is not eaten. It is allowable to eat it with your fingers, as I have said, in private. It is served after the roast as a special course. One can not drink champagne with asparagus except at the risk of a severe headache.

Artichokes are served as a separate course after the roast. They should be placed in the center of your plate and the inside tips of the leaves alone eaten. The leaves are removed with the fingers and dipped in salt, sauce vinaigrette, or melted butter. The center of the artichoke is called the heart. The hairy part is removed with the fork, and the heart itself, which is deliciously tender, is conveyed to the mouth with the fork.

Champagne is served in small tumblers or claret glasses. The champagne stem glasses are out of fashion. The dry may be served from the fish to the close of dinner, but the old rule was to give it with the roast, claret with the entrée, and Burgundy with the game.

Salad is eaten with a fork only. In cutting game or poultry, the bone of either wing or leg should not be touched with the fingers, but the meat cut close off. It is better to sever the wing at the joint.

Savories, a species of salt fish and cheese sandwich, is served in England hot, about the end of dinner. They should be eaten with a fork. Undressed salad is sometimes served with them, or radishes, butter, and cheese. This is the only occasion when one sees butter on a dinner table, and this at informal dinners. The salad undressed can be eaten with the fingers. At bachelor dinners and at luncheons cheese is served with salad. The French soft cheeses are the favorites.

Pastry, ices, and desserts are eaten with a fork.

Fruit, such as peaches, pears, and apples, are served frequently already pared. When this is the case, finger bowls are dispensed with, but as yet this is not a general rule. Usually at dessert there is placed before you a finger glass and doily and a dessert plate, with the dessert knife and fork on either side. Remove the glass and doily; put it in front of your plate a little to the right. Fruit must be pared or peeled with a silver knife.

Strawberries are now served with the stems on, and sugar and cream are passed around and are taken on your dessert plate.

Pineapples are eaten with a fork. 

A cracker is used for nuts, and silver picks are brought in with the dessert.

Corn on the cob is a favorite at small informal dinners as a separate course. In polite society you must remove the grains of the corn with your fork or your knife and fork, and never eat it off the cob holding the end with your fingers. By holding one end with your napkin, you can plow down the furrow of the grains with your fork, and you will find that they will fall off easily. Corn is always served, when given in this style, on a white napkin. You help yourself to the ear with your fingers.

Macaroni and spaghetti should only be eaten with a fork. 

In New Orleans boiled shrimps are often served at small dinners. The skins and heads are on, and you remove these with your fingers. After this course, finger bowls with orange leaves are passed around, and the perfume of the water will remove the odor of fish from your fingers.

Black coffee is served after dinner. Milk or cream does not accompany it, except in the country, where sometimes a little silver pitcher of cream is placed on the tray. Coffee is drunk from small cups. 

Coffee and milk are never served during dinner, nor again is iced milk. These are barbarisms. 

Chartreuse, kümmel, curaçoa, and cognac are the liqueurs usually served after dinner.

Claret, in many French families, especially those of the middle class, is placed on the table in decanters. You are expected to help yourself. There are also carafons or decanters of water to mix with the wine. The claret decanters are called carafes. Claret is drunk at the twelve o'clock déjeuner, as well as at dinner.

Tea is passed around in old-fashioned English houses about an hour after dinner. In some places buttered muffins accompany it, but this extra refreshment is only seen now in very old-fashioned houses.

Scotch whisky and hot water or mineral waters are served in country houses before bedtime. — 
The Complete Bachelor, by Walter Germain, 1896


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

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Gilded Age Etiquette for Family Dining

“Serviette Complete” — Popular publications like Godey's Lady's Book often included tips on etiquette and entertaining, including instructions like these on elaborate napkin folding. From "Dinner Serviettes," Godey's Lady's Book (Philadelphia) 88, no. 525 (March 1874), Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries.

Finger bowls are not a general institution, and they seem to be quite as needful as the napkin, for the fingers are also liable to become a little soiled in eating. They can be had quite cheaply, and should be half filled with water and placed upon the side table, or butler's tray, with the dessert, bread and cheese, etc. They are passed to each person when the dessert is placed upon the table. A leaf or two of sweet verbena, an orange flower, or a small slice of lemon, is usually put into each bowl, to rub upon the fingers. The slice of lemon is most commonly used. The finger tips are slightly dipped into the bowl, the lemon juice is squeezed upon them, and then they are dried softly upon the napkin. At dinner parties and luncheons, they are indispensable.


In many families there is no waitress, then everything should be placed upon the table before the family are called, and the dessert can be put on a little table at your right. Always make your eldest daughter set the table, and do it neatly. Lay the cloth straight, and put the salt cellar and the butter plate, with the tumbler or cup, at the right hand of each person. Have crocheted macramé twine mats to keep the table cloth from being soiled, and at the head and foot of the table place a napkin cornerwise to the centre, or straight as one prefers. This will prove a great saving of table cloths, and the napkins can be retrieved often. 


Then tell her to look carefully over the table to see that not one thing is omitted. Look at your place, and see that there are enough cups and saucers placed neatly at the left hand, for breakfast or tea, and that the sugar bowl is well filled, and the cream and milk pitcher are prepared for use. Have a stand of metal at the right hand, to hold the coffee or tea pots, and the water pot, and a spoon cup should be placed beside the sugar bowl, with the tea spoons and sugar spoon in it. Also see that the carving knife, fork and steel are laid beyond the plates at your husband's seat. And have these plates well heated, and all the food as hot as possible. It is a decided annoyance to have this child, or that one, asked to leave the table to procure needed appliances, that ought to have been upon it.— From “Hints Upon Etiquette and Good Manners,” In Ladies Home Journal, by Mrs. S.O. Johnston, 1886



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

Friday, November 26, 2021

Gilded Age Dining Aesthetics Etiquette

Decorative arrangements of food were the height of fashion at elite tables in the Gilded Age, such as this dish of diced, sugared pineapple surrounded by slices of sponge cake. Henderson recommended this elaborate arrangement not only for its aesthetic value, but also because otherwise she found imported pineapples which often arrived in the American Northeast the worse for wear to be tough and tasteless. From Mrs. Mary F. Henderson, Practical Cooking and Dinner Giving (New York: Harper and Bros., 1877), 339, Special Collections, Michigan State University Libraries

Growing material prosperity meant that some people had the luxury to think more about food's visual aesthetics than ever before. For instance, Mrs. Peter White advised soaking pickles with grape leaves to turn them green, or adding a whopping half pound of turmeric to turn them yellow. Mary Henderson commented that raw oysters served in a block of ice created “a pretty effect in the gas-light.” Food and entertaining writers also obsessed over the importance of a clean, appealing table. “Too much can not be said as to the pleasant effect of a dinner,” Henderson wrote, “when the table-linen is of spotless purity, and the dishes and silver are perfectly bright.” Dietary reformers studying poor American eating eagerly praised one family that, under their influence, began setting their table with a white tablecloth, in contrast to other “slovenly and shiftless” families whose lack of civilization, as reformers saw it, was reflected in their lack of interest “in the appearance of their homes and tables.”

Another aesthetic consideration was noise, and middle-class writers believed the less of it the better. Etiquette writers condemned loud breathing, noisy chewing, and slurping of any kind, and they reminded diners not to clatter their silverware or scrape their chairs. Herrick praised a restaurant for its “noiseless serving,” while Henderson suggested that a thick mat should be placed under the tablecloth to muffle the sound of moving dishes and that servants should wear slippers to minimize the sound of their footfalls. Commentators prized quiet at the table because it indicated that eaters were self-controlled and servants were well trained. — From “Food in the American Gilded Age,” Edited by Helen Zoe Veit


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

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Italian Place-Setting Etiquette for Wines


A semi-formal place setting example from the new Italian etiquette book, by Petra Carsetti and Carlo Cambi,
GalaTime: it is always time for good manners”!

Taking as a reference the arrangement assumed by sommeliers (now more in vogue and certainly more used today) it must be specified that the water glass is placed in front of the tip of the main knife because it is a simple tumbler and has no stem: a low glass (that's why in the front row) which will be followed by the second-order glasses of service, starting therefore from those for the white and then for the reds (gradually more and more structured). 

In this case, in order to better enhance the organoleptic properties of the wines and their scents, glasses of different shapes and sizes are set, both for whites and reds such as tulip or balloon (the latter must be placed at the table at the time of serving the specific wine and not before). If you follow the rules of the sommelier, the “battery” of the glasses should be made up of at least six different containers for the wine (which must not be set all together but with a maximum of 3 glasses.) Translated from “Galatime,” by Petra Carsetti and Carlo Cambi


Petra Carsetti was born into a gastronomic minded family… true lovers of excellent foods and wines. From an early age she showed a great passion for the table, which she later developed by working in important, well-known Italian restaurants. Since 2005, she has written many books on food and wine, along with guides to Italian restaurants, specializing also in galateo and etiquette at the Accademia Italiana Galateo and ANCEP (the Association of Ceremonialists for Public Institute). She teaches etiquette in schools to adults and children, is a consultant for various political and economic authorities, and she has a weekly column in a historic newspaper. She also writes for various other newspapers, and in September she will come out with her new book, “GalaTime: it is always time for good manners”!























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

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Table Manners for Connoisseur Kids

Just in Time for Thanksgiving Dinner…
Jennifer L. Scott is the New York Times bestselling author of Lessons from Madame Chic, At Home with Madame Chic and Polish Your Poise with Madame Chic, Mademoiselle Chic, and Connoisseur Kids. She is also the creator of the blog and YouTube channel, The Daily Connoisseur, where she explores the fine art of living.

⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️⚜️
Etiquipedia will be posting more of this charming and gifted author’s work in the coming weeks and months. In the meantime, you can learn more about Jennifer at www.jenniferlscott.com



Using a Fork, Knife, and Spoon

Did you know that people in different parts of the world use their fork and knife differently? 

In America, people hold their forks in their right hand while eating. If you are going to cut your food, you move your fork to your left hand, place the tines (the sharp, pointy parts) down, and cut with a knife in your right hand. After cutting your food, you switch the fork to your right hand and resume eating.

In Europe, people always hold their fork, tines down, in their left hand and their knife in their right hand, not letting go of either for the duration of the meal. No matter how you use your knife and fork, there are a few mannerly rules to remember:

Avoid waving your knife and fork around while you are talking. Keep them low to your plate.

Always use your fork or spoon unless you are eating finger foods like a cheeseburger and fries. Even though it might be faster to eat mac 'n' cheese with your hands, for example, always use a fork or spoon. Then you won't get sauce all over your fingers.

When you are finished eating your entire meal, place the knife and fork side by side on your plate in the 11 o'clock position (as if on a clock).

- Connoisseur KidsActivity -
Family Table Manners Challenge

You've learned a lot of tips on how to have great manners at the dinner table. This week, involve your entire family. Each weekday, you will focus on one skill.

Monday: good posture
Tuesday: proper napkin use 
Wednesday: using your silverware correctly 
Thursday: trying a new food 
Friday: improving your conversation skills

Every night, announce the subject that you will all be focusing on. This isn't just for you; it's for Mom and Dad, too! As you move on to each new day, don't lose the skills you practiced the day before. In other words, by Friday, when you are working on your conversation skills, you will also be sitting with good posture, placing your napkin in your lap, and using your silverware correctly. Soon these good table manners will just naturally radiate from you!

Mealtimes are some of the most special times of the day. They are a chance to bond with your family members, nourish your body, and relax and unwind. When everyone uses their best manners at the table, the experience is even more enjoyable. (Remember, the more you practice, the more naturally they will come to you, and soon, you won't think twice about doing them.) – From
Connoisseur Kids: Etiquette, Manners, and Living Well for Parents and Their Little Ones,” by Jennifer L. Scott, 2019


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

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

17th C. Table Etiquette

Another innovation was the so called ‘sucket fork’ a spoon and fork combination for use with ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ sweetmeats. The suckets would have been at the individual places— Sweetmeats or Dessert Service Layout, c.1670 Photograph Jeremy Phillips for Fairfax House, York


Improvements in table layout at this time included the idea of raising some of the food onto stands. This gave the opportunity to place extra dishes on the table and created a more sumptuous and three-dimensional concept of presentation. Large footed salvers of this type were often embossed on the broad rim with repoussé decoration of fruit and flowers. The Glossographia (1661) explains their early use “in giving beer or other liquid thing to save the carpit or cloathes from drips,” but they were soon put to other uses as stands for fruits, sweetmeats or even for glass crewetts. They were often fashioned by re-working old plate and it seems to be the case for this elaborate stand from Norwich Castle Museum.

Another innovation was the so called ‘sucket fork’ a spoon and fork combination for use with ‘wet’ or ‘dry’ sweetmeats. This set of five by John Smith, London, c. 1680 is a rare survival, as are the superb candlesticks by Jacob Bodendick, 1677. It was at the end of the meal that the candles were lit for the dessert course and whilst table candlesticks from the Restoration period survive in numbers, none are more majestic and innovative with their square fluted sockets, gadrooned square bases and cushion-shaped knops on baluster stems. – From “British Cutlery, An Illustrated History of Design, Evolution and Use,” York Civic Trust, 2001 




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



Monday, November 22, 2021

Early 20th C. Baby Shower Etiquette

“The baby shower should be held two or three weeks after the tiny person's arrival. Clothes are usually presented-tiny booties, lace caps, dainty little frocks, and petticoats.” – Early 20th C. baby showers were recommended for after the baby’s birth, as the infant mortality rate was high and many birth defects are now caught and treated early.


Bridal showers have inspired fashionable women to give baby showers. The home is made gay with baby pictures, tiny kewpie dolls, and a profusion of pink and blue baby bows. The gifts that the guests contribute are placed on display and everything is made in pleasing readiness for Mother and Baby.

The baby shower should be held two or three weeks after the tiny person's arrival. Clothes are usually presented-tiny booties, lace caps, dainty little frocks, and petticoats. Diaper showers are appropriate, especially when the gifts include rubber panties, diaper pins, bands, etc… 

Sometimes rattle and toy showers are given, and a recent shower-for the purpose of furnishing the nursery-included such gifts as dainty baby pictures, tiny clothes trees, a little rocking chair, a wardrobe for baby's clothes, and other similar useful gifts. The guests arrange to purchase everything together so that there will be no duplication and so that the pieces of furniture match.

Of course Mother is expected to give a tea or reception to her friends as soon as possible after the shower. — From Lillian Eichler, 1922



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

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Gilded Age Fads for Dining, Etc…

A step further than the ices in natural fruit skins, is to hang them from a small tree, which is placed on the table where the course is served and afterward carried about to each guest, who plucks the fruit from its supporting branch.
- Photo source, Pinterest

A few fashionable notes on entertaining and being entertained in May of 1892…

Following the tall goblets of a few years ago succeeded the flat tumblers of recent date. These are in turn supplanted by a medium goblet, with not more than an inch of stem and bowl, which flares slightly at the rim.

A step further than the ices in natural fruit skins, is to hang them from a small tree, which is placed on the table where the course is served and afterward carried about to each guest, who plucks the fruit from its supporting branch.

Some of the florists are showing little sedan chairs of various sizes, which, flower-trimmed and with flowers piling the doorway, are used in decorating apartments and dinner tables.

Pink poppies and cultivated oats are announced to be the favorite London table decoration this season.

Card cases are now made to match gowns, and May shoppers get confused over heliotrope as a shade in stuffs and ribbons. The hue is a deep lilac rather than the purple shade of the flower itself. – New York Times, 1892


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