Page:The White House Cook Book.djvu/642
THE LAYING OF THE TABLE AND THE TREATMENT OF GUESTS.
IN" giving " dinners," the apparently trifling details are of great importance when taken as a whole. '
We gather around our board agreeable persons, and they pay us and our dinner the courtesy of dressing for the occasion, and this re- union should be a time of profit as well as pleasure. There are cer- tain established laws by which " dinner giving" is regulated in polite society ; and it may not be amiss to give a few observances in relation to them. One of the first is that an invited guest should arrive at the house of his host at least a quarter of an hour before the time ap- pointed for dinner. In laying the table for dinner all the linen should be a spotless white throughout, and underneath the linen tablecloth should be spread one of thick cotton-flannel or baize, which gives the linen a heavier and finer appearance, also deadening the sound of mov- ing dishes. Large and neatly folded napkins (ironed without starch), with pieces of bread three or four inches long, placed between the folds, but not to completely conceal it, are laid on each plate. An orna- mental centre-piece, or a vase filled with a few rare flowers, is put on the centre of the table, in place of the large table-castor, which has gone into disuse, and is rarely seen now on well-appointed tables. A few choice flowers make a charming variety in the appearance of even the most simply laid table, and a pleasing variety at table is quite as es- sential to the enjoyment of the repast as is a good choice of dishes, for the eye in fact should be gratified as much as the palate.
All dishes should be arranged in harmony with the decorations of the flowers, such as covers, relishes, confectionery, and small sweets. Garnishing of dishes has also a great deal to do with the appearance of a dinner-table, each dish garnished sufficiently to be in good taste without looking absurd.
Beside each plate should be laid as many knives, forks and spoons as will be required for the several courses, unless the hostess prefers to have them brought on with each change. A glass of water, and when wine is served glasses for it, and individual salt-cellars may be placed at every plate. Water-bottles are now much in vogue with corrc-