Here’s some hundred-year-old advice for where to serve the first course of a dinner:
Before answering this question specifically let us first say that there is no special course which is invariably the “first course of a dinner.” The first course may be shell fish; it may be soup; it may be the chief meat dish –according to the number of courses served and formality of the dinner. But whatever may be the first course, there is only one place where it should be eaten, and this is at the dining-room table in the dining-room.
During recent years, however, the custom has arisen of serving a small portion of some sapid and well-relished food, whose function of to stimulate appetite, as a beginning to the dinner. This beginning is not thought of as one of the courses, it is too unsubstantial, and the frilly little morsels used for this purpose are listed under the headings: “Some Beginnings,” “Appetizers,” “avani-diners,” or other similar phrase. A salpicon, which, correctly, is a very small portion, no more than a good tablespoonful, is an example of such a beginning. So is a canape. So used to be the original cocktail. At a gentlemen’s dinner it used to be customary to have canapes and coctails passed in the library soon after the guests assembled. Canapes were, then the crisp and crusty morels which could be eaten from the fingers; and cocktails were composed of ingredients now under legal ban.
At present our cocktails are of two kinds: the semi-solid kind, calling for the use of a fork, such as the oyster cocktail, which is really one of the courses, since it is only a new fashion of serving the shellfish. The place to eat this is in the dining-room. The other kind of cocktail is made of fruit juice or a mixture of fruit juices, etc., and this, according to a late fashion, is brought to the drawing-room, or wherever the guests are assembled–and now that guests are not expected to arrive on the stroke of the minute-hand, it helps the pleasant passing of a period of waiting for some belated one, to sip the cocktail during the quarter of an hour allowed after the time named for the dinner.
American Cookery (March, 1922)
21 thoughts on “1922 Advice for Where to Serve the First Course of a Dinner”
Enough to give the hostess butterflies.
How true – there’s something to be said for today’s more informal meals.
I always wondered how my mother planned her dinner parties. Now I understand protocol.
My sense is that there were many more protocols and directions for planning dinner parties a hundred years ago than what there are now.
. . . or maybe dense.
Hehe! I love the confirmation of what I understood but had not seen in print!
I’m glad you enjoyed this post. It’s fun how the author laid all the directions and considerations out in so much detail.
I think she needs a real cocktail.
I think that you may be right.
“cocktails were composed of ingredients now under legal ban” I wonder what they substituted for the alcohol.
It’s fascinating how the author referred to prohibition.
Very interesting. My problem is getting people to come to the table when I call them.
If I ever see any tips in a hundred-year-old book or magazines about getting people to come to the table, I’ll be sure to share them. 🙂
Thank you! I’m guessing people were more polite and responsive 100 years ago.
Sapid was a new word for me:)
It was for me, too. I wonder if the word “sapid” was more commonly used a hundred years ago than it is now.
The funniest comment was that now people aren’t expected to ” arrive on the stroke of the minute-hand,”
I wonder if there ever was a time when guests were expected to “arrive on the stroke of the minute hand.”
I am afraid there must have been because it was what I was taught. I had to unlearn it.