Saturday, March 7, 2009

Life. Love. And what we ate.

Hosts and hostesses in the modern era sometimes choose not to provide menu cards on their dinner tables. When hosting small dinners at home, I rarely place a card at each setting and sometimes not on the table either. However, there is always a printed formal card in the kitchen, usually two: One on the most-used counter top, and other affixed to the fridge by magnet: this helps me to remember all the courses, dishes, and wines. Even for the smallest event I have found these to be indispensable. I see to it they are on quality menu stock and I pen them ever so carefully myself because I like things to be aesthetically pleasing to my eye: but you could scratch them on to the flat side of a rock with flint if it works for you; its' your tool, after all.

I've saved my cards over the years, most no one but I will ever see. I also tucked away the menu cards from my wedding (we had a few upright on each table on stock which matched the invitations), from the weddings and events of my closest friends, and any important great meals otherwise. I have never bothered arrange them. just nipped them all away in a big box. Then I got to thinking how I loved the collection and how these might be a lovely thing to collect and frame, especially if one lives the Hostess dream day in and out, like yours truly.

I plan to start straight away and create a non-central wall of historic menu cards. Because you see, they bear witness to history, do they not?

One chronicled the meal served to a British Queen by a Texan in the White House.

Official menu card of the bush White House state dinner for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, 2007

Another is an aching reminder of a young, glorious, and vibrant White House, less than one year before it was lost to a tragic and unforgivable ending...

Official menu card, White House, 1962

Some will cause you to wonder about the signatures and why at some of the guests scribbled their names on the opposite side of the card. Who were they? Or what would they become?

Menu card, Carnival Dinner, RMS Aussonia, 1932

They would be present as future kings were welcomed to Leeds and everywhere else at one time or another...

Menu card, Official Ball to welcome HRH Prince of Wales to Leeds, 1868

They would be beautiful works of art all their own.

Menu card from the French steamer, Laos, 1899

They would chronicle meals survived by vessels traveling bravely in the second great war.

Christmas Day Menu, HMS Krestle, 1944, Sea History UK

What story will they tell about you and I and this age we live through together, I wonder?

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