To give a luncheon is to indulge one's self in the most charming and satisfying form of entertaining. All the dignity of the stately dinner-party is lacking, it is true, but all the delight of informality is present; one has opportunity and leisure to chat, to laugh, and to discuss the dainty and unsubstantial dishes beloved of women. That hostess is to be congratulated who can and does give her friends luncheons all the year around; whatever day she chooses becomes at once a gala day.
But after one has entertained, and entertained no matter how delightfully to her friends and how satisfactorily to herself, there comes a time when for the moment she can think of nothing she has not had. All flowers seem ordinary, all food wearisome. It is for such a day as this that this little book has been prepared. Not that new dishes are offered in a long, fascinating series, for all startling novelties or elaborate concoctions have been purposely eschewed: this is not a cook-book; it makes no such ambitious claim; the possession of a good cook-book, a supply of cooking utensils, a few canned goods and flavouring extracts, and access to a market of ordinary capacities, have all been taken for granted. But the ideas are intended to be practical, the food given in season and within reasonable price, and the recipes, whether given, as is sometimes the case, or merely alluded to as easily to be found, are all sufficiently simple to be undertaken by a very ordinary and inexperienced cook.
It is assumed that all hostesses are in possession of that priceless commodity which our grandmothers called "faculty," that common-sense which more than anything else helps one over domestic boulders; this will suggest that if whitebait is not to be had, canned salmon is quite within reach, and from that useful fish a toothsome dish may easily be prepared. If pim-olas are an unheard-of relish, home-made pickles are by no means to be despised. If ice-cream in rose forms is entirely out of the question, raspberry ice made from one's own preserves or from the fresh fruit in the garden is fully as delicious. To assist one who is willing to take the second choice if she cannot have the first, a substitute has been offered for any course which it is suspected may prove difficult to procure in different parts of the country; an intelligent hostess will easily be able to think of one that is even better than the one named.
Rather elaborate menus are given that they may be adapted to one's need. It is easier to shorten a menu than to lengthen one, and two or three courses dropped from a company luncheon will transform it into one suitable for home use with very little trouble. If one menu is not quite what one wants, she can take another; if something more elaborate still is desired than what is given already, she can take a course from some luncheon farther on in the book; as much variety as possible has been sought on purpose, that there may be opportunity for just this choice of dishes.
The idea of observing holidays with luncheons is only a suggestion; any one of the luncheons may, with slightly altered decorations, be given at any time during the month. Doubtless every hostess can take the fancies given and work them out to her more complete satisfaction; it is intended that she should do so, for this is not meant to be a complete compendium on luncheon given; it is only a "Little Book of Suggestions," nothing more. And now to something practical.
The principal factor in a successful luncheon is a pretty table; that remains in one's memory after all the details of the luncheon proper have been forgotten.FOR LUNCHEON USE. ANOTHER STYLE OF DOILY. HONITON LACE DOILY.
No cloth is used nowadays, but pretty doilies are laid on the bare surface; where one has been so unfortunate as to have the appearance of her table ruined by the defacing marks of hot dishes, she often refuses to dispense with the table-cloth, yet if she knew what a very simple and inexpensive thing it is to have a fresh polish put on, she would doubtless send for the furniture dealer at once; even without the aid of that individual she can improve matters by applying a purchased polish, rubbing it in well with a flannel cloth; indeed, rubbing is the secret of a handsome table top....