Food makes a wonderful gift, and is sure to please friends and family – both now and a hundred years ago. But, I must admit that some gift suggestions on a hundred-year-old list of edible gift ideas don’t work for me. Why the heck would someone want edible moss for desserts?
The article suggests wrapping the edible gift in tissue paper. The food could also be put in boxes. When giving a gift of candy a century ago, people often made decorative gift boxes. Several years ago, back when I was posting my grandmother’s diary, I did a post on how to make a triangular candy box. The directions originally appeared in the December, 1912 issue of School Arts Magazine.
Even in the days before Instagram (and blogs) people wanted to present their food in attractive ways. Here’s some hundred-year-old advice for garnishing food:
Garnishing the Dish
All food must be neatly placed in the dish, and arranged or piled with some sort of symmetry, and this is the most that some people have time to do. Many foods may be served in the utensil or dish in which they are cooked, and in the case of a baking dish, if its appearance is not neat, a napkin can be folded about it. The simplest form of garnish is browning on top, which makes many dishes attractive (mashed potato).
Make the garnish simple, and have it eatable when possible. Slices of hard boiled eggs on spinach, shopped parsley and butter on boiled or mashed potatoes, parsley and slices of lemon with meat and fish.
Vegetable borders are attractive and save labor in dish washing. Arrange the meat in the center of the platter, and pile mashed potato, or boiled rice or peas or beans, or a mixture of hot vegetables around the edge. This saves time in table service, too.
Foods and Household Management: A Textbook of the Household Arts by Helen Kinne and Anna M. Cooley (1915)
The February, 1918 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine had this Q&A:
Question: Please tell me what a man about sixty years and who has a smoker’s heart and lately is troubled with indigestion should eat. Is sherry wine or porter good or bad for him?
Mrs. M.W.C., California
Answer: First of all, the man with a smoker’s heart should stop smoking; otherwise any attempt to remedy the indigestion by a course of diet would prove futile. I do not advise him to drink wine or beer of any description. His nerves are already sufficiently worn and are not in a condition to resist a new and violent stimulus. He should avoid tea, coffee, cocoa, and alcohol as well as tobacco.
A diet consisting of bread and mush made from whole ground cereals unbolted, good pure, fresh milk from healthy cows, fruits and succulent vegetables ought to prove helpful. If possible he should conduct his work and exercise so as to be properly fatigued when bedtime comes. He should sleep on a porch or in a thoroughly ventilated room, and take a morning bath as cold as can be tolerated, to secure a prompt and vigorous reaction when rubbed.
Do you want to save money? A hundred-year-old old home economics textbook says that it cheaper to buy sugar by the barrel:
When much preserving, canning, and jelly-making is to be done, a considerable saving is accomplished when sugar is bought by the barrel at its lowest price. An inspection of the fluctuation in food prices published in the daily paper will tell the woman who knows when she can buy most profitably. Sugar is a staple which it pays to buy in larger quantities than some other foods.
How to Cook and Why by Elizabeth Condit and Jessie A. Long (1914)
Did you ever hear of “apple rusting”? Apparently that term was used a hundred years ago to describe how apples tend to turn brownish after they are cut. Here’s what a 1918 magazine had to say about how to prevent rusting: