In the house…
Last Tuesday, we left our dear domestic goddesses – Isabella Beeton, 19th century author of the wildly popular Book of Household Management, and Martha Stewart, creator of every other commercial household venture – intensely debating the fine points of fine dining. To read their last head-to-head, click here.
Now I’ll continue with my interview (I’m going to take a firmer hand this time):
KBO: So, ladies, thanks for joining us once again to give our readers your tips on fine dining. But first, some ground rules. I’ve learned my lesson from last time: no descriptions of how to slaughter an ox, and no complaints about black-and-white vs. color.
IB: But that’s not fair – she’s wearing a blue blouse, and you can’t even tell what colour I have on.
KBO: Find me a color picture, and I’ll put it up.
MS: Was there even color in the 19th century?
IB: What an absurd question! And it’s colour, dear, not color.
MS: Sounds the same to me. You British don’t know how to spell anything properly. Like gaol, for instance.
KBO: I think we’re getting a bit off-topic here. As I said last time, readers have better things to do than to listen to you two sniping at each other. Like getting a tooth drilled. Let’s get back to fine dining.
KBO: Okay, earlier we talked about table decorations. How about food?
IB: It’s all in my book:
KBO: Hmm. If we’re going by that rule in my house, that leaves out everything but Easy Mac and Cheerios. Martha, you’re both the cook and hostess for your dinner parties. What would you recommend?
MS and IB: What’s Easy Mac ?
KBO: Well, it’s sort of like pasta…
MS: Never mind; I don’t want to know. You can do better. With all of our modern conveniences, we 21st century women can do it all!
KBO: …but, Easy Mac is a modern convenience…
MS: You know what I mean. Now, here’s something you can cook:
KBO: Looks yummy.
MS: Roasting chicken atop a layer of shallots infuses the meat with their flavor and the shallots carmelize as they cook. Baby new potatoes and fresh broccoli from one’s summer garden are lightly steamed, and a demi-glace is drizzled on top for an artful presentation.
KBO: If I could serve it with a side of your verbs and adjectives, I might just be able to pull it off. I suspect, though, that my house would be “infused” with the smell of onions and burnt chicken instead.
MS: Well, we only have so much to work with, don’t we?
IB: Poultry is an excellent suggestion, Martha. Ooh, wait! I have a colour picture of my poultry dish and other meat suggestions:
KBO: Mrs. B, how could you? You killed Thumper. My guests would run screaming from that. We don’t serve meat dishes with head and feet still attached anymore, unless it’s a luau.
IB: Who’s Thumper?
KBO: *sigh* Well, ladies, thanks for coming. I know I’ve learned a lot today. Good luck with your future endeavors.
MS: Can I go back to my real life now?
IB: That’s a little hard for me to do, dear – remember? I’m dead.
KBO: Oh, yes, how silly of me.
So, as we part ways with Isabella and Martha, why not share your dinner party successes and failures, and perhaps your thoughts on how recognizable our meat should be when we serve it. I’d love to hear from you!
Until next time,