This section of the book is from the "Household Companion: The Home Book Of Etiquette" book.
In imitation of the French, the meal which in our country is usually called " lunch " or " luncheon," is sometimes designated as " breakfast." It may either be 'formal, resembling a dinner, or informal, like the breakfast just described. It is served between 12.30 and 1.30, and the hostess may make it as simple or as elegant as she chooses. A formal luncheon party, however, differs little, if at all, from a dinner. If the occasion is a ceremonious one, the table is set in the same manner as for a dinner, and the dishes are handed by the servants; but the guests enter separately, instead of arm in arm.
At a large lunch-party either one long Lable, or several little ones, may be used. If the latter method is preferred, take care that the servants have ample room to pass between them. Each plate should have beside it two knives, two forks, one or two spoons, and a water-goblet.
The first course should consist of fruit or of raw oysters, or of bouillon or chicken consomme, served in cups set on plates, and provided with teaspoons.
This course is followed by an entree, chops with one or two vegetables, game or chicken, and salad, with sweets, candies, fruits, etc. Black coffee is usually served after luncheon.
In an informal lunch, if the hostess prefers, the sweets may be placed on the table in advance; but vegetables must be served from the side-board, and the chops, cold meats, etc., should be served by the hostess. Yet at such luncheons vegetables are frequently omitted, and in the selection of dishes the greatest latitude of choice is permissible. Among those most frequently served may be named oysters, croquettes, French chops, cold meats, beefsteak, fish, omelettes and salads.
At formal luncheons a bouquet for each lady is sometimes provided, they being grouped as an ornament in the centre of the table, and distributed after the meal. The custom is a pretty one, and worth encouraging. Occasionally, also, some pretty trifle is given to each guest as a memento of the occasion, but there is no obligation for this to be done.
Guests should be punctual in attendance on such an occasion, or send word promptly if prevented, by some sudden occurrence, from coming. Either a white or figured table-cloth may be used, but it must be one that will wash.
These are rules which etiquette and good breeding demand shall be observed, not alone at luncheon, but at all meals. The table is the social centre, and it is essential that those who gather around it shall conform themselves to the most approved rules of good society. A knowledge of table etiquette is very desirable to possess, since many regard it as one of the surest tests of good breeding. It is at the dinner table, however, that strict rules of observance become indispensible. There is much more freedom allowable at the earlier meals of the day, and a digest of table rules may be left till we come to speak of the principal meal.
It may be said, however, in regard to conversation at the lunch table, that both etiquette and good breeding forbid indulgence in gossip, particularly in any sense ill-natured, and nothing can be more ill-bred than to make, after the meal, carping criticisms on the hostess and the entertainment she has provided.