This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
Probably, in pursuance of a desire to please everybody, it would be best to have two kinds of fish, as a baked and a boiled; a fish in fillets with tomato or Spanish sauce, and another whole with only the simple melted butter. Ordinarily, it must be allowed, one kind is enough, while yet there are fishing resorts and other places peculiarly situated where several dishes of fish have to be offered daily. When serving fish as only a part of the hotel regular dinner two-ounce portions are enough unless some person wishes to pass the middle or latter courses of the dinner by and requests a full order.
While, very often, it is a difficult matter to find materials to make a given number of entrees or made dishes every day, and cooks are glad to run in very common and useless dishes merely to fill up the list, still at other times a number of small meats and remainders of poultry and game are left on hand that will make excellent dishes for this list, but could not be utilized otherwise, so that there are motives of economy as well as excellence of the table in favor of keeping up a medium sized list of entrees. Three or four entrees each day is about the right number.
If a profusion of dishes be excusable anywhere it should be In the line of vegetables, and every improvement in the methods of cooking them should be encouraged both from motives of economy and of health. And on general principles the consumption of vegetables should be encouraged, instead of meat, as tending to reduce the cost of living. A wide field for the exercise of the cook's art exists in the richness of our American vegetable products, and it has not been worked out as meat and pastry cooking have, but affords plenty of room for new methods to be introduced. There should be six or eight vegetables each day and different ways of cooking some of them introduced almost as often.
The extraordinary fondness of Americans for pie, so often remarked upon, is only apparent, not real. We like the pastry department just as well as any other nation of people does, and no better; the reason why pie appears so prominent is because we call those things pie, which the English and French call by other names, consequently we have ten times as many pies (so called) as they have. The English pie has always a top crust; the things which we call corn-starch pie, lemon pie, custard pie, and the like, they make the same way in a deep dish, with a thin bottom crust of paste, and call them puddings, or, if small, cheesecakes; and our open fruit pies they call tarts. There is an English cook book that contains recipes for making one thousand puddings, but a large proportion of them over here would be called pies; that is how it is we seem to be the only pie-eating nation. For mere good living one kind of pudding or pie is sufficient, but from motives of policy the hotel table should be provided with two kinds, perhaps three - that is, a pudding, a covered pie and an open pie - and as ornamental considerations have the more weight towards the end of a dinner, when the appetite is not so obtrusive, it is as well to care a little for the contrasts in appearance of the pastry, and let a showy meringue shine along with a dark fruit pie and a red cranberry along with a white or yellow custard.
The universal liking for ice creams, the ease of making them now with the improved freezers and universal supply of ice, and the many varieties of such creams and frozen compounds now generally known, have almost driven out the favorite sweets of years ago.