This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
The good taste and good sense which characterizes the hotel bill of fare in general is largely attributable to the course of teaching and criticism of the hotel newspapers for, up to a few years ago, a vast proportion of the bills were very ridiculous affairs and the greatest mostrosities among them were those which they that wrote them thought were the best. It is only about a dozen years since hotel papers came into existence. Before that time there were no sources of information on such subjects but a few antiquated cook-books which taught by-gone styles, and the mixed bills of the cooks of various nationalities employed in the larger hotels. These showed lists of dishes enough and good ones, of -course, but without the translations of their names into plain English and the statement of the reason for their appearing in any particular order of succession, such examples did more harm than good. The subsequent intelligent discussion of the questions led to such favorable results that there is no diffculty now in the learner finding a riliable pattern since the bill of almost any good hotel may be taken as a model, -while the main arguments on the various points may be found in the hotel books now in existence and need not be gone over again in this place.
Some minor questions still arise, however, which will be briefly stated in order to a full understanding, it being noted in advance that a perfect uniformity in the bills of all the hotels would be very undesirable; we can usually select our favorite newspapers from a pile of papers through some individuality of appearance, their type, their make up, their color, their headings or absence of them, and we should value this stamp of individuality just as much in hotel bills of fare as in newspapers.