Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Historical table interlude: Luncheon a l'Eve

Relate it to what should happen; fuse it into the long morality play that began, really, in the Garden of Eden.
- William F. Buckley Jr.

Mary Dawson's notes below on a luncheon she attended are intriguing. What might you serve at a Luncheon a l'Eve?

Eve and the Serpent, Frank Wesley, undated

"Twenty-five Philadelphia girls were completely mystified by invitations bidding them to a 'luncheon a l'Eve.'

It proved to be one of the most unique events of the season, everything being offered as eve would have served it in Eden, that is without a fork, knife or spoon. An entire menu which could be conveyed to the mouth with the hands would have sounded like an utter impossibility until our hostess showed us the way to do it...

...fruit was seasonal and dainty to handle, accordingly the first course was fruit. Each plate contained a small bunch of grapes, a couple of ripe plums, and a banana peeled down to protect the fingers, and various other tidbits certain not to prove too juicy... The soup came in small china cups with handles... the toast triangles that came with this course were chosen because they were less likely to crumble than bread.

One of the courses was meat patties in little fluted cases of pastry. These were so tiny and crisp that they could be eaten without forks. The lamb chops that followed were also very small. They were fitted out with white curled papers at the bone end so that not a finger was soiled in handling them.

Saratoga chips, lettuce, cress, and corn on the cob were the green things of the feast. We curled white lettuce leaves into bunches, as the French epicures do, and dipped them in creamy mayonnaise.

The butter problem was disposed of by bread and butter sandwiches cut very thin and rolled, and by hot wheat muffins split and buttered before being brought to the table.

For dessert we had a frappe served in cups with handles, wee tartlets filled with a compote of of fresh fruit, candies, coffee, salted nuts and other good things."

- Mary Dawson's pen for The Good Housekeeping Hostess (1904, Phelps, subsequent editions, Hearst)

Come back to visit later tomorrow and I will share my a l'Eve ideas with you.


An Aesthete's Lament said...

All I can say is, WOW!

Kristin said...

I wouldn't have minded having a ticket to that soiree!

Carey-Life in the Carpool Lane said...

What a lovely idea...and I loved reading the description with it's unique 1904 language.

Thank you for stopping by my blog!

susan said...

I loved reading this description of the luncheon! Do you think a Saratoga chip is an early potato chip? I wondered about that--

Blushing hostess said...

I know, I think it is excited and a good idea for people who do not want to count the silver! Wink.

Rainbow: Here is what I found on the Saratoga Chip:

In the summer of 1853, Native American George Crum was employed as a chef at an elegant resort in Saratoga Springs, New York. One dinner guest found Crum's French fries too thick for his liking and rejected the order. Crum decided to rile the guest by producing fries too thin and crisp to skewer with a fork. The plan backfired. The guest was ecstatic over the browned, paper-thin potatoes, and other diners began requesting Crum's potato chips


Cass @ That Old House said...

I wonder if Eve ever put little paper pants on her lamb chops?

What a fun story. and what a lot of food for a ladies' luncheon. Those gals knew how to tie on the feed bag, back in the old days.

Hmm... feed bag. Now that doesn't require flatware either, does it?