This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
With a great many persons occupied daily in the preparation of the hotel dinners, the composition of the bill of fare is the one literary effort of their life, it is their first timid step upon the threshold of the temple of belles lettres, where they begin to use the strange words of a strange language and watch for the effect to see whether they are understood and whether they have said them aright. The words and the language and the whole operation of forming the bill of fare, are strange for the reason that our people generally are not "gastronomically educated," as the latest phrase has it; neither the great mass of the people, who come to the hotels, nor many of those whose business it is to cater to their wants, have ever studied the subject of the composition of various dishes and their proper names, or thought much about the correct order of serving them, while still it is felt that a code of gastrono-mical proprieties must have been formulated somewhere in the upper regions of culture, and every sort of writer of the bill of fare tries to show his acquaintance with it according to his light.
In looking over a promiscous collection, especially of hotel dinner bills, it is not difficult to pick out the bad examples which show how "fools rush in where angels fear to tread," and also the specimens which have emanated from a student of the subject who feels a proper pride in his performance, because he understands the motives which lie at the bottom; the great majority are, however, of the sort that are written as a task which must be performed daily by somebody and bear no marks of the pleasure which that task possibly may bring, when the reasons for every line and every sort of arrangement are thoroughly comprehended.
Premising, for the information of the learner, that there are other forms of the bill of fare suitable for private parties, formal banquets and for club dinners, it may confidently be asserted that the present general form of bill in use at the hotels of the United States and Canada is the best for the purpose of the regular dinner or table d' hote system, and the -most perfect which could be devised, both for the display of culinary proficiency and for the allowance of the freest choice to the dinner. This statement is made for the benefit of those who may chance to pick up specimens of old-country bills divided into "First Service - Second Service," or "Premiere Service - Deuxieme Service - Troi-sieme Service" and the several different forms adopted by various clubs for the sake of singularity, as well as the specimens of dinners served in courses, all of them forms not suited to the requirements of the hotel dinner and therefore not to be adopted unawares in the effort for improvement.
The present form has, so to speak, formed itself in accordance with the tastes and requirements of the people for whom hotels exist, the arrangement of dishes is according to their home-formed habits; by which is meant that our people take meats and savories but once in the meal and do not take meats again in the "second service," but only sweets and fruit.