This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"Moore used to speak of a dinner party at Prince Esterhazy's, where he had the honor to 'assist.' All the meats were represented in carved wood, beautifully painted. The guest pointed to the dish he wished for, and servants brought it to him in its real shape".
While the following in the first place is only amusing it really contains a serviceable hint to those who have artistic pieces to display:
"A gentleman who was invited out to dine at a Delaware residence lately observed that the chandelier over the dining-room table was of peculiar construction so that there was a light over the head of each guest. The globes were of various colors, some amber, some red, and some blue. ' What is the object of having the globes of different colors?' the guest asked of the hostess. ' Why, you see,' said she, 'when one gives a dinner or tea one must invite some people whom one hates. Now, last Tuesday I gave a supper and had to invite two women whom 1 despise. But I had to invite them or some of the young men I wanted would'nt come. I had my revenge on my fair enemies, however. I placed each of these two women under one of those pale blue lights at table. They're usually considered beautiful women, but under that light they had the most ghastly look you ever saw. They were perfect scarecrows. They seemed to have aged twenty years the minute that they sat down. The men noticed it, of course, but they did not divine what caused it They were quite taken aback and awfully glum at first. But finally one of them turned with a sigh and began talking with a real lovely, homely little thing that was sitting under a ruby-colored light. Why, .she was perfectly charming under it.
So you see that when I want people to look perfectly hideous I put them under the blue lights. It kills everything.' The gentleman looked up. He was under a blue light".
"Just before Lent a tropical dinner was given here by a wealthy man. The floral decorations were all tropical plants. For the ferns, palms, ivy, mandarin trees Florida and Central and South America were ransacked. The truffles were brought from France and a bouquet of ten strawberries was placed before each guest. These cost ten dollars a bunch. The table was arranged around a miniature lake, in which palms, lillies and ferns appeared to be growing, while tropical trees rose from the banks amid miniature parterres of flowers. Small electric lights, with varicolored globes, were arranged about the lake, and by an unique arrangement electricity was introduced under the water of the lake and caused to dance about in imitation of vari-colored fish. Twenty courses were served. There was no cloth on the table. A beautiful palm-leaf fan was placed on the table before each guest, and on these the plates rested. The individual decorations on each plate cost $30, while the favors cost as much more, and the menus $10 each. Roman punch was served in oranges hanging on the natural trees, the pulp of the fruit having been deftly removed so that the favored guests could pick their own fruit. The dinner cost $175 per cover.
The wine and music were extra".