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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1406

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THE ART OF CARVING AT TABLE.
 
CHAPTER XXXIX
 

Instructions for Carving Fish, Meat, Poultry and Game.

It is to be feared that carving is an art to a great extent neglected in this country. This is a curious fact when considered in connexion with the great growth in the cult of the cuisine in England of late years, yet the conscientious historian of the habits of our times is compelled willy nilly to make the admission. It must be admitted that the modern fashion of serving à la Russe has to a large extent relieved the host and hostess from carving at dinner, but the art is still required at breakfasts, luncheons, and quiet family repasts. The real trouble is that the Englishman does not take the matter sufficiently seriously—passes it over as a mere mechanical and considerably boring accompaniment to a meal. This constitutes a grave error. To carve well is a graceful combination of science with art, and your true carver would carve symmetrically as well as economically even were he put in the position of dividing a sucking-pig between two. Considering how important and useful an accomplishment it is, one is astounded that more people do not make an effort to carve at least passably. The explanation, perhaps, lies in the fact that carving holds a place among those arts which every man is convinced he can practise better and more scientifically than any one else in the world!

How often, too, does one come across the man who grumbles at the cook when the real fault lies with him who cut the food! The greater number of those who dine in a first-rate restaurant and are pleased to pose as gourmets never in this respect appear willing to learn by experience or example, but quietly turn to their neighbour, and discuss the latest news, the weather, and their personal affairs, while the maître d'hôtel is giving an example of an art the acquisition of which has cost him the study of a lifetime and contains perhaps the secret of a great gastronomic success.

Without doubt the first carver of recent times was the late M. Joseph—proprietor of the Restaurant Marivaux, in Paris, and sometime director of the Savoy Restaurant, London.

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