Page:Mrs Beeton's Book of Household Management.djvu/61

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General Advice to the Cook, with Observations on her
Duties, and those of the Kitchen and the Scullery Maids

Man may live without love—what is passion but pining?
But where is the man who can live without dining?
We may live without friends, we may live without books,
But civilized men cannot live without cooks.
From "Lucille" by Owen Meredith.

The cook and those who serve under her are so intimately associated that they can hardly be treated of separately. The cook, however, is queen of the kitchen; and if she be clean, neat, orderly and quick in her work, those who are under her will emulate these good qualities; upon her the whole responsibility of the kitchen rests, whilst the duty of others is to render her ready and willing assistance.

In great establishments in the time of the Norman and Plantagenet kings the cook was indeed a great personage; more than one fortunate master of the art receiving a manor or title because he pleased the palate of his sovereign with some dainty dish. In those days the head cook gave orders from a high chair which commanded a view of all that was going on. Each held a long wooden spoon, with which he tasted, without leaving his seat, the dainties that were cooking on the stoves, and the spoon was frequently used as a rod of punishment on the backs of those who did not sufficiently study the virtues of diligence and temperance.

Early Rising.—If, as we have said, early rising is of the utmost importance to the mistress, what must it be to the servant! It is a thousand times tested truth that without early rising and punctuality good work is almost impossible. A cook ought to realize this important fact, for if she lose an hour in the morning, she is likely to be kept toiling all day to overtake necessary tasks that would otherwise have been easy to her. Six o'clock is a good hour to rise in the summer, and seven in the winter.

The Cook's First Duty should be to prepare the breakfast, full details for the selection, cooking, and service of which will be found in a later