How to give a dinner

How to Give A Dinner [1865] 

A dinner, no matter how recherché, how sumptuous, will never go off well if the wine is bad, the guests not suited to each other, the faces dull, and the dinner eaten hastily.
But some impatient reader will exclaim, How can we manage to unite all these conditions, which enhance, in a supreme degree, the pleasures of the dinner-table?
I will reply to this question, so listen attentively, gentle reader.


Let them be so collected that their occupations are different, their tastes similar, and with such points of contact that it is not necessary to go through the odious form of introduction.

Let the number of your guests never exceed twelve, so that the conversation may constantly remain general.

 Let your dining-room be brilliantly lighted, your cloth perfectly clean, and the temperature of the room from 13 degrees to 16 degrees Réaumur.

Let the men be clever without presumption, the women amiable without conceit.

 Let your dishes be limited in number, but each excellent, and your wines first-rate. Let the former vary from the most substantial to the most light; and for the second, from the strongest to the most perfumed.

 Let everything be served quietly, without hurry or bustle; dinner being the last business of the day, let your guests look upon themselves as travellers who have arrived at the end of their jouney.

 Let the coffee be very hot, and the liqueurs of first quality.

 Let your drawing-room be spacious enough to allow a game to be played, if desired, without interfering with those addicted to chatting.

 Let the guests be retained by the pleasant company, and cheered with the hope that, before the evening is over, there is something good still in store for them.

 Let the tea not be too strong; the hot toast well buttered; and the punch carefully mixed.

 Let no one leave before eleven, but let every one be in bed by midnight.

... The Handbook of Dining, or Corpulency and Leanness Scientifically Considered, by Brillat-Savarin, 1865.






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Godey's Salad - Obeying Orders

"But speaking of olive oil, let me tell you an anecdote of my friend Godey, of Philadelphia, of the 'Lady's Book', sir, the best-hearted man of that name in the world. Well, sir, Godey had a new servant-girl; I never knew anybody that didn't have a new servant-girl! Well, sir, Godey had a dinner-party in early spring, when lettuce is a rarity, and of course he had lettuce. He is a capital hand at a salad, and so he dressed it. The guests ate it; and - sir - well, sir, I must hasten to the end of the story. Said Godey to the new girl next morning: 'What has become of that bottle of Castor-Oil I gave you to put away yesterday morning?' "sure, said she, 'you said it was castor-oil, and I put it in the caster!' 'well,' said Godey, 'I thought so.' " - Cozzen's Press. We give the above, because we found it in our friend Cozzen's paper, but we won't vouch for the truth of it. Cozzens, it is well known, is one of the most lively and pleasant writers of the day. It is fame enough for one man to be the author of "The Sparrowgrass Papers."

Godey's Ladys Book, Vol.LIII July to December 1856, p 183