The social breakfast is becoming more and more of a function. Not the early morning breakfast, where the tempers of the eaters are not always under perfect control, but a later and more leisurely meal, to which guests are asked and where much the same laws of convention apply that are observed at a luncheon. In fact, the breakfast resembles a luncheon in most respects. Here, as at luncheon, the hardwood table is bare except for a handsome white square, and for doilies under the dishes and plates. The table is spread as for luncheon, the knives at the right, the edges turned towards the plate, the tumbler near the points of these the spoon laid by the knife, the forks at the left, and beyond them the napkin, a piece of bread folded in it. At the left also stands the bread and butter plate.
At the breakfast, however, there is a little less formality than at the luncheon, as there are also fewer and less elaborate courses. For, although the breakfast is usually served at twelve or half after - only a little earlier than the ordinary mid-day meal - it is regarded as less conventional in nearly every respect.
Soup is not served at the formal breakfast any more than it would be at the family meal known by that name. The whole bill of fare is rather an amplification of the common breakfast than a variation from it. For that reason sweets are out of place to conclude it unless one wishes to introduce the English fashion of having a pot of marmalade and toast brought in to wind up the repast.
Following this preamble are given a couple of menus that may serve as suggestions for the hostess who wishes to entertain at breakfast. It is an especially charming way of gathering one's friends about one in the warm days when heavy dinners are out of the question and even late luncheons come at the hour when long sitting at meals is likely to be a weariness to the flesh. The summer breakfast may be served as early as eleven, or even as ten o'clock, while that of the late winter mornings may be held back until the noon hour:
Coffee In Large Cups
Coffee In Large Cups
Either of these menus may be adapted to any season. For example, if the breakfast be a spring or summer function, the strawberries may be served - large strawberries, unhulled, to be dipped in sugar and eaten with the fingers, in the fashion that we have imported from England. If the berries are not in season, however, the orange juice, made so cold as to be almost frappe, and served in small punch-glasses, may take their place. Either the berries or the orange juice should be on the table when the guests take their seats. Nothing else should be there then, except the regular furniture of the table, the glass or bowl of flowers in the center of the board, the piece of bread laid in the napkin and the butter ball or tiny print on the bread and butter plate. Hors d'oeuvres are out of place on the breakfast table, unless you have radishes, which are decorative as well as appetizing.
When the fruit has been eaten and has gone, the omelet may come in. This should appear whole. A Spanish omelet, with the rich yellow of the eggs, the red of the tomatoes and the green of the peppers, is too pretty a thing to be cut before the guests have had a chance to see it in all its beauty. It may be passed to each guest, or, better still, served by the host or hostess. In putting down a plate in front of any one the waitress should approach on the right side, just as, when she is passing a dish from which the guest is to serve himself, she should offer it on the left. In the case of the eggs, which are usually prepared in individual dishes, she should put a plate in front of the guest, standing on his right side as she does so. A small doily may be laid under each nappy. The toast may be either dry or buttered. The rolls should have been put in the oven long enough to become heated.
For the third course of the meal rather large breakfast plates should be used, and these must be well heated. The chicken may be passed or carved on the table; the chops should be passed. So should be the potatoes and peas. The hostess should serve the coffee at this point, having the equipage in front of her at the head of the table as she would at a family breakfast. The cream and sugar may be passed that each guest may add the "trimmings" to his coffee to suit himself.
Either the grapefruit salad or the cream tomato salad is feasible at almost any time of year. With it are served the crackers and cheese - on the same plate. This concludes the meal, unless, as I have said, you wish to introduce the jam-pot and hot toast. But in most cases the guests will have had all they want by this time.
At a breakfast the guests may be both men and women - provided one is able to find enough disengaged men to make a fair sprinkling. The breakfast should not be too large a gathering. Not less than four, not more than eight, is a good rule.
At the luncheon, on the contrary, there may be any number that >he table can accommodate, and men are usually barred.
The luncheon differs from the breakfast, too, in being a more formal function. Never at a luncheon could a guest rise from the table to wait on herself or some one else, as may be done at a breakfast, without risking the proprieties of the occasion. The table is set in the same way, but the linen should be, if possible, more elaborate. More embroidery, or richer lace, is permissible on the cloth and center-piece, and color may be admitted more freely than at the breakfast. The flowers may be more and loftier, and at an elaborate luncheon a corsage bouquet for each guest, or at least a fine flower laid at each place is en regle. There may be place-cards also, and even favors, although these are by no means necessary, or in most cases, desirable. On the table, as well as the necessary plenishing, are small dishes of salted almonds, olives, radishes and bonbons. Wine may be served also, if one wishes it, and the glitter of the wine-glasses adds to the beauty of the table. If artificial light be preferred, there may be candles with colored shades that harmonize with the tint of the flowers, and the china should be as much in keeping with this chosen shade as possible. The luncheon, where only one color is prominent, is much more artistic than that where there is a confusion of hues.
The accompanying luncheon menus may, like those given for the breakfast, serve as suggestions to the hostess on the lookout for a harmonious bill of fare: