This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
"A 'Clnderalla' supper, recently served in Paris, was rendered quite charming by the free introduction of the modest flower which 'opens with the earliest breath of spring.' All the ladies wore violets in abundance on their white dresses, and each gentleman wore a button-hole of the poet-lauded flower. Supper was served at little tables - the parties carrees, or sets of four, being quite usual in- Paris now. Each table was, instead of being covered with a cloth, strewed with a bed of fragrant pale-tinted violets".
«' Oie of the dinner-table decorations for this season is Mephistophelian, out of compliment, doubtless, to the great Lyceum success. It is done entirely in flame-color flowers with black foliage, and is beautifully diabolic. The candle shades are also flame-color, and the menu the same".
"One of the notions in table decoration is a pink satin tablecloth of the very palest tone. Only eight inches of this is, however, visible, merely enough to allow room for the plates. All the rest of the table is hidden by grey gypsophila. In this is intermixed all tones of pink roses from the lightest to the deepest shade. In front of each guest is a slender glass vase with a rose. Those who have never tried the grassy gypsophila for decorating tables are recommended to do so, for it is both beautiful and durable".
"The floral decorations at fashionable tables this season have been largely confined to one color. At a dinner given recently at the Russian Embassy a charming effect was obtained with one single kind of flower - the white lily. Every variety of this exquisite bloom was used, however, but beyond their own green leaves and creamy buds and a lovely bronze foliage, judiciously blended, there was no mixture whatever, and a more perfect result could not possibly be imagined".
"A fish dinner has lately been the fashionable novelty in New York. Not only was the menu unique, but so also was the costume of one of the belles who graced the occasion. The private dining-room was turned into a bower of bright green, with seaweeds in profusion and quaint embellishments of shells, while borrowed pictures of pisciculture and water completed the aquatic decoration. However, it was in one of the elaborate toilets that a clever conceit was most remarkably carried out. The wearer was a pretty girl, and belonged to a distinguished family. Her hair was loosened and embellished with sea-grass, a necklace and bracelets were pearls and coral; the sleeveless and low-cut corsage was delicate pink satin, shading off into the green of draperies fashioned in artistic imitation of a mermaid's lower half. The scaliness of a fish was imitated by means of bead-work, the skirt was narrow, and a short train was shaped like the tail of a fish".
" The floral decorations at fashionable dinner-parties are often arranged on a novel plan. At a recent Belgravian dinner a crown was made the central feature of the table. The cloth was left white, and in the center was a white satin cushion, upon which was placed a crown of the most vivid crimson flowers, and from it long trails of crimson flowers reached to the four corners of the table; a few small dishes of flowers at the head and foot of the table completed it. But dishes or vases are very little used now - the flowers are arranged on the cloth. The star shape is a most effective form of placing them, and is most beautiful when a cunning hand has led the color by gradations, from a vivid center to a pale shade at the points, where the tapering ray should end in a single leaf.
A DINNER TABLE. - Reduced from an Engraving in Harper's Bazar.