This is the first article in April of the School for Housewives 1907 series published on April 7, 1907, and is a discussion on entertaining guests after going out to see a show.
This is the first in six talks that covers entertaining after a show, an afternoon reception, breakfast, luncheon, supper, and finally the evening reception. Reading this article late night receptions are really rather laid back with suggestions to prepare a simple meal before heading out during the evening. The meal does not have to be elaborate but it is always appreciated that something is provided.
Transcribed from the Sunday edition of The Boston Sunday Post.
The After Entertainment Supper
THAT a supper should follow theatre, opera, concert or lecture is a foregone conclusion. The evening meal, be it dinner or supper, is eaten at an earlier hour than usual, or hurried over, or abridged, that the pleasure-seekers may be at the rendezvous in season. The evening entertainment is a strain upon the strength, be it amusement or boredom. The party emerges into the outer air—which acts as an instant tonic to empty stomachs—full, it may be, of thoughts of what they have enjoyed or endured, but with one idea which overtops the rest in each mind.
That there are ways and ways of giving the indispensable supper I purpose to illustrate in this free-and-easy talk with my youthful, and, because of that youth, pleasure- loving constituents, by telling three perfectly true stories from my own experience.
The first is the tamely conventional tale of a rich man who got up a party of friends for an opera evening. He had a box for the season, and his wife assisted him in doing the honors of the occasion to six guests—three of whom were young. We were driven to the opera house in private carriages, and from it, when the opera was over, to a fashionable restaurant where a supper, ordered beforehand, was enjoyed by the juniors, and partaken of discreetly by their elders.
A TEMPTING MENU
Chicken bouillon, mantled by whipped cream, prefaced an entrée of oyster-crabs.
Squabs and cepes a la Bordelaise were succeeded by a salad. Then came ices and cakes, black coffee and tiny glasses of Benedictine to reconcile the midnight feast to our gastronomic consciences—alias digestions. It was 1 o’clock when we entered the waiting carriages to be returned to our respective homes.
The second experience I shall record had in it an element that would have wrought chagrin but for the lively sense of humor with which kind nature had endowed the major portion of the participants.
Two young men—business partners, and credited with being “rising fellows,” asked me for permission to invite my daughters, my niece, my son, and my prospective son-in-law to see Booth in “Hamlet” on a given night. And would I chaperon the party when made up? All accepted, “with pleasure,” and on the evening appointed we were agreeably surprised by the arrival of the proposed hosts in two carriages, designed to convey the octette to the theatre. The weather was fine, and we could have taken the street cars conveniently; the hosts might be rising, but they were not rich, and our young people were not fastidious. Still, we were thankful for the goods the gods who preside over revelries by night had provided for us. We made no comment upon the unexpected luxury, and appreciated the evident intention of the pair to “do the thing in style.”
The play was long, and we were hungry when it was done. In comparing notes afterward all six of us confessed how we had settled in our minds that supper would be served for the party in a certain cafe that has an international renown, and which was delightfully convenient to the theatre—so convenient I caught myself sitting up in an expectant attitude as we approached the illuminated front of the stately building, and was conscious of a palpable chill at heart as we rolled rapidly by. With like rapidity we rolled past four other desirable—obviously desirable—stopping-places, and so on up to our own door. And never a syllable of supper had been lisped by the “rising” twain!
They ascended the front steps with us, but would not come in.
“It is late, and the ladies may be tired, etc., etc.” The usual polite nothings of thanks and deprecation were uttered; the hosts re-entered the carriages, and we went slowly indoors.
Once in the hall, we looked forlornly into one another’s faces—hungry-eyed and disappointed. Then our slang-loving collegian said:
“I suppose they didn’t have the price of carriages and supper, too!” and we laughed until the tears started. The servants were in bed, but we raided the larder in a body; bringing out treasures new and old, and sat over the improvised repast until the small hours were waxing larger.
The third party I shall report upon was of like size with the second. Eight is a jolly number for a theatre or dinner company. There were four “boys” and three girls, the chaperon making the eighth. Before we took the cars at the corner I had made arrangements for our home-coming. The night was blustering, and we felt as if we had been blown from the front porch into the hall with the unlocking of the door when we returned. The odor of coffee and oysters was in the warmed air that floated wooingly to us. Wraps and hats were tossed aside, and we trooped into the lighted dining-room, eager and happy. We were but human creatures, and to healthy mortals hunger is natural and commendable. There were stewed oysters, sandwiches, a delicious fruit salad, crackers and Swiss cheese, homemade cake, crullers, tea and coffee; and for those who dared not drink either so late in the evening, hot chocolate.
One word to the many who must partake of the after-theatre supper in restaurant and hotel:
If the host, pro tempore, be a young man, do not let him order in your hearing a sumptuous entertainment under the impression that he is doing you honor. Without the most remote intimation of a wish to save him expense, suggest the unwholesomeness of elaborate meals at that hour, and playfully check the disposition to “overdo things.”
I wish I could instil into the mind of Our Girl just appreciation of the position and capabilities of the average American man who is near the beginning of his business or professional career. At least two-fifths of our men “have their way to make in the world.” It does not argue stinginess in your escort if he does not invite you to supper on the way home from theatre or concert. In his code of morality debt is dishonesty. If your mother can contrive to have a little supper ready for the two when you get back, it would be a still better way out of the tangle, and earn his gratitude by sparing his self-respect.
In preparing an after-theatre supper there are many interesting yet inexpensive little touches you can give to a table to make it attractive. As time will necessarily be somewhat limited so late in the evening, it is well to have all preparations made beforehand.
In the first place, it is a mistake for the average hostess to attempt an elaborate supper; a simple welsh rarebit, creamed chicken or fish served in a chafing dish, with dainty sandwiches, a salad, cheese, nuts, candy, cake and coffee is quite enough. With welsh rarebit many people think they cannot get along without beer, but ginger ale makes a good substitute.
All of these can easily be prepared beforehand and the table set in readiness. Make lettuce or olive sandwiches, and also some of minced ham or chicken, mixed with a little cream. Cut some in crescent or diamond shapes and roll others. Tie them together with ribbons. Mass them neatly on plates, and set several platefuls on the table. Be sure to allow a plentiful supply, as hearty appetites are usually brought to these midnight feasts.
Instead of a cloth, use a centerpiece and plate doilies on a polished mahogany table and have it set early in the evening with all the plates, small silver and serving silver that will be necessary.
The chafing dish should also be in readiness on the main table. Some hostesses, however, prefer to have it on a separate side table. Especially is this the case if one is lucky enough to own the many new chafing-dish accompaniments, such as a glass shield to protect one’s gown from the flame, long handled spoons and forks, silver or cut glass cruets for vinegar and ale, and special little bottles for salt, pepper, mustard and the other seasonings used by the skilful chafing-dish cook.
There is also a new mahogany chafing-dish tray to hold these ingredients, which is really very convenient, as it means a great deal to the amateur cook not only to have everything in readiness, but to have it in one spot.
A delicious and appropriate salad for an after-the-theatre supper is made of pineapple cut in small squares and covered either with mayonnaise or French dressing. This is very attractive served in the scooped-out shell. The dressing can be made and the pineapple cut in advance, so all that remains to be done after the theatre is a hasty mixing together.
As a rule, a sweet is not necessary for a late supper. Cake, coffee and cheese make a very good dessert. If more is desired, however, use a gelatin or charlotte russe, which are easier to serve than ice cream.
A very attractive setting for a cake, and one which would really be decorative for the late supper, is to use a candle board. Such is made of ordinary pine, 18 inches in diameter, stained mahogany and furnished with a double border of tin candle pins, which should be set alternately to give a pretty effect.
An old silver snuffer or a plain wooden one should be on hand. When the hostess is ready to cut the cake she snuffs out the candles directly in front of her. At the close of the supper the hostess or maid, if she is present, passes the board, whose candles have been left lighted as a pretty decoration, and asks each of her guests to snuff out one or more. Such a board may do duty for all sorts of festive occasions.
The cake itself should be wreathed in smilax, clover blossoms, ivy, or any pretty vine or flower.
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