This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Some bills of fare of the best American hotels which appear to be quite wrong in arrangement when compared with French models are quite right according to Italian fashions. Some that are quite wrong according to the Italians are right according to the French. Those that are right according to one or both of them are wrong again according to German, or Spanish, or English, or Russian or other fashions. The only way to be right is to adopt an American form of bill of fare and count all of them wrong in the degree that they depart from it The conclusions to be drawn from the foregoing examples and comments are:
1. There is a good form of Ameiican bill of fare already in use in the great majority of our hotels, but better specimens of it can be had from any part of the United States than from New York City.
2. It is necessary to have a top heading to the bill, and it is correct and quite optional to use either Bill of Fare, Menu, Dinner, or Table d'Hote.
3. It is best, on account of the strangeness of strange people in most hotels, to have headings to the divisions of the bill of fare, and nearly all foreign menus, except French fashionable party cards, set the same example; yet, if the hotel does not receive many strangers, headings are not required for regular residents. There is no need of running to the extreme of big black letter headings in one case nor to a confused jumble of dishes in the other.
4. American preferences favor the preliminary course of raw oysters in the season and clams as a substitute at other times, and most of the cold side dishes. The hot hors d 'ceuvre to be eaten after the soup is not an American favorite in that place and is not needed. It is found to be most convenient to place the oysters in a separate line preceding the soup and the cold hors d 'czuvres or side dishes after the soup, instead of the superfluous hot mouthful or bouchie.
5. Good foreign sanction can be found for the above arrangement, and equally good authority in the French fashion for placing such side dishes as cucumbers, olives, celery, sliced tomatoes, etc., after the fish instead of after the soup, and some of the best American bills of fare show the preference of many hotel keepers for that arrangement, which is quite an optional matter and immaterial.
6. The serving of fancy forms of potatoes with fish should be adopted as a part of the American fashion.
7. The solid boiled and roasted meats, which the English put under the heading of "Joints," should be placed in the American bill of fare after the fish and before the entrees, because that is the order in which they are generally called for. If high foreign sanction is wanted it can be found in two out of the "three royal examples" given in a former article, where the roasts come first, and also is the teaching of the French gastronomers that the plain and substantial dishes should come first.
8. When game appears in its season it should be placed in the American bill under a separate "game" heading immediately after the roast meats and before the entrees.
9. The gratuitous sorbet or punch is an added luxury, but is in a general way detrimental to the hotel keepers' interests. If wanted In the bill it should be placed after the roast meats in the table d d'hote arrangements of dishes, for if placed lower down it only becomes a preliminary to the pastry, seeing that most people take meats, entrees and vegetables all at one serving, and the punch should go with them or immediately after. This feature is never found in a fashionable English dinner. They have no use for punch anywhere but with turtle soup, unless, perhaps, instead of wine after dinner.
Making allowance for the slight varia tion caused by the insertion of "game," the annexed, one of chef Theodore Pierrot's Sunday bills, may be taken to show.