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Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/1867

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1677
MEALS: THEIR IMPORTANCE AND ARRANGEMENT

overcome, but this by no means comprises the whole art of cookery. Such culinary artists as Ude, Careme and Francatelli owe their fame as Chefs-de-Cuisine to their ingenuity in originating new methods and new dishes, their skill in manipulation, and their care in combining seasonings and flavourings in such perfect proportions that no particular ingredient was allowed to predominate. Moreover, they not only raised cookery to a fine art, but their influence in the direction of refinement and elegance eliminated much that was gross in the English mode of living. Francatelli, who has been termed the " Father of Modern Chefs," strongly advocated simplicity in both cooking and service. The introduction of the dinner á la Russe was in a great measure due to his efforts, and this arrangement is now so popular that it is adopted in almost every household where a sufficient number of servants are kept to allow the food to be handed round. There are still a few old-fashioned people who prefer the older custom of having all the dishes placed upon the table, and of course this custom must always prevail in lower middle-class households; but it is almost generally agreed that it is much more artistic and agreeable to have nothing displayed but fruit and flowers, however simple and inexpensive these may be. Pleasant and appropriate surroundings contribute largely to the enjoyment of a meal, and as our meals, whether elaborate or simple, are an important item in the sum total of domestic happiness, the greatest possible care should be bestowed on their preparation and service.

In giving a dinner it is far better to have a simple meal, which one knows will be properly cooked and served, than to risk anything elaborate, for it is difficult to appear utterly unconcerned when one is harassed by petty cares, and a thoroughly good hostess is one who is able herself to enjoy, without anxiety, the dinner she is giving to her friends.

The temperature of the room is a very important subject that is often overlooked.

It is not possible to thoroughly enjoy a good dinner in a room either too hot or too cold, and hostesses should well consider this matter.

Table Arrangements.—There are a few general rules which apply equally to mansion and cottage. However simple may be the meal, and however coarse in texture the cloth, it should be clean, free from creases, and arranged smoothly with the centre fold forming a true line the whole length of the table. The knives should be clean, bright and sharp, and the silver clean and well polished. When properly trained servants are kept, contrary conditions seldom exist; neither would they in small households, where the work devolves upon an inexperienced housemaid, if a few simple rules were strictly enforced, such as removing the crumbs and folding the cloth on the table, instead of allowing it to be shaken and folded outside the room; that after each meal all knives should be cleaned and made ready for use; and, what is