Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1196

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Dessert at the Present Day does not hold the same relationship to the dinner that it held with the ancients—the Romans more especially. On ivory tables they would spread hundreds of different kinds of raw, cooked and preserved fruits, tarts and cakes, as substitutes for the more substantial comestibles with which the guests were satiated. No part of a dinner is governed more by individual tastes and circumstances than the dessert; it may consist of one or more dishes of choice fruits; or a varied display may be provided at a comparatively trifling cost, when the dessert is composed principally of fruits in season and homemade sweets. Pines, melons, grapes, peaches, nectarines, plums, strawberries, cherries, apples, pears, oranges, figs, raisins, walnuts, filberts, crystallized fruits, fancy ices, fancy cakes and biscuits, make up the dessert, together with dainty sweets and bon-bons, with which the present chapter deals.

Dessert Services.—The shape, material and pattern of dessert services is so varied, and depends so much upon taste, that the word "fashion" may hardly be used in reference to them, though it may be said that the services now used are those in which the colours are pale and delicate, and that the stands for fruit are of medium height or quite low. White china now forms some of the prettiest dessert services, and is well calculated to show off the beauty of the fruit, the effect being particularly good when the stands are surrounded by trails of flowers and foliage, or placed upon artistically arranged silk of some delicate hue, contrasting or harmonizing with the flowers. If available, bon-bons are usually served in small silver dishes constructed for the purpose, otherwise they should be daintily arranged in small fancy dishes lined with lace-edged dessert papers, or in tiny ornamental paper cases.

Arrangement of Fruit.—No hard and fast rules can be laid down with reference to this, except that such easily damaged fruits as strawberries should never be mixed with the more solid kinds. In nearly