...although this spirit is no longer publicly acclaimed and beribboned...many who have come down in the world are keeping it alive by gallant and uncomplaining toil, sweeping the rooms and cooking the dinner, mothering the family and cheering the bread-winner, within those narrow homes whither the vicissitudes of fortune have driven the dispossessed in yearly increasing numbers. ... Many such are daily learning to solve startling problems of house and kitchen, of garden and farm, in wholly unwonted surroundings, and in the thick housemaid's gloves and strong brogues which have replaced the 16-button Peau de Suedes and the dainty Court shoes of their luxurious past, are practicing the making of drudgery divine. ... Is it best to make the clean cut, definitely breaking with the old life ... or can we keep as far as may be in touch with our real friends, offering such simple and rare entertainment as changed circumstances permit? Can we not, without overstraining modest resources of storeroom and purse, make adequate provision for occasional friends from town who might welcome a health-giving change to country air from the confinement of the city?There's something wistful and serious in this one. Everything is different, but everything is somehow the same.
It was also fun to read the recipes included in each essays (even the recipes have funny bits). There's a recipe for lemon barley-water, which I keep reading about in books (I'm going to try making some next summer). Some of the food is a little frightening ('Having removed the brains from half a calf's head, put it in a stewpan with a little salt and water to cover...'), and some of it sounds absolutely wonderful. This is what I was reading yesterday while I was eating a tuna fish sandwich:
For the mid-day meal serve as the principal 'plat' a nicely cut and fried bread canape some six inches by four inches and one inch thick, and on to this spread a thick layer of well-made puree of chestnut with a couple of stoned and heated black plums at each corner. On this lay several delicately-cut slices of pheasant or turkey roasted or braised, and a little good gravy poured very hot over it. Or if chicken be the order of the day, make a bed of savoury rice on your canape, enriching it with sultanas steeped in hot wine or stock, and mixed with almonds split and grilled brown, and pieces of breast laid on it. Again, slices of goose or duck reposing on a mattress of thick apple sauce above the canape, or partridge breasts resting on softly-mashed potatoes and some mushrooms buttered, grilled and added piping hot. Even the familiar slice of roast mutton from the family joint would acquire additional merit if supplemented by a creamy layer of mashed turnips, and nice little pile of capers or a soubise sauce to add zest. All these might appear as off-shoots from the family dinner.This is lunch, on a tray, for an invalid. But only if Mrs. Bridges is downstairs.
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .