28 July 2010

Etiquette Wednesday -- Elizabeth Craig

Elizabeth Craig wrote cookery books for almost sixty years. Interspersed into her vast collection on cooking, she also wrote several books on homekeeping and one or two on gardening.

Cookery and Household Management was published as a two volume set consisting of volume of recipes and a second volume with more recipes and a few household tips that every gracious homemaker should know.

Here is Craig’s take on setting a table.

“No table can look attractive unless it looks symmetrical. To achieve a symmetrical effect, arrange china, glass, and silver in a geometrical fashion. Allow, if possible, twenty-four inches to each cover, though sixteen to twenty inches can be allowed when setting for a larger number than usual if your table will not extend.”

And here is advice on heating your dining room. As you will see, it was more of problem in the 1930’s than it is today.

“Besides taking care to see that the table is perfectly laid, every parlourmaid or home-parlormaid should pay attention to the warmth of the dining-room. The temperature of the room can make or mar the finest meal. The temperature of the dinning-room is also very important, especially at dinner-time, and in homes where people still dress for dinner. If electrically heated tell her to switch on 1/2 hour before dinner time in cold weather. If gas heated, allow 1/2 hour to heat. If the dining-room is heated with a fire, she must set a match to it, at least 1/2 hour before announcing dinner, and be sure the fire is glowing a welcome by the time dinner is served.”

I am always amazed that households who had little money for food and even less for adequate heating would still have a parlormaid. This winter I tried valiantly to keep the thermostat set at a balmy 54. Clearly, I didn’t have a lot of dining room company! Still, I am sure I could have pulled off a grand dinner or two if I only had a parlormaid.

I must admit, I desperately want a parlormaid. Perhaps I should advertise on Craig's List?

For a lovely luncheon recipe from Elizabeth Craig, check out today’s Cookbook Of The Day.

1 comment:

  1. I am an Elizabeth Craig fan and collector of her many books.

    I like her no nonsense approach to just about everything.


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