A DEFENCE OF ENGLISH DINNERS.
BY ONE OF THE OLD SCHOOL.
"MY DEAR MR. PUNCH,
With your leave, I will resume the attitude of defence which you allowed me to take up in your last week's number.
"The charge which, under pressure from without, the Times has made on us is, that-
With the best meat, fish, game, fruit, and vegetables in the world, and with means of access to the markets of every foreign country, our English middleclass housewives - let no English lady scorn the honourable title - have not yet succeeded, when they give an entertainment, in going beyond a regulation programme with which we are all familiar, even to nausea.
"What this 'regulation programme' consists of Mr.Punch, any of readers who are diners-out will guess:-
"Dim soup and cods head and shoulders, relieved by three or four evil side dishes and followed by the inevitable haunch of mutton and pair of chickens."
"Now, Mr. Punch, I ask you as an Englishman, pray what in the name of conscience can the Times complain of here? Call this a 'monotonous menu,' forsooth! What! Soup, fish, flesh, and fowl, not to mention the et caeteras, such as pudding, game, and cheese, which of course come on as followers, just to fill up vacant corners with. To cry, oh, we want variety! with such a bill of fare as this, appears to me, I must confess, like asking for more air in the midst of a typhoon, or wanting wetter weather when one is visiting the Lakes.
"But, Sir, grant it is monotonous. I say, so much the better. Monotony is charming to me, especially in diet. As one of the Old School, Sir, I like things I am used to. Whatever may be new to me, my first impulse is to hate. At the table, of all places, I detest making experiments. What though the soup be 'dim!' - there s nothing new me in that, and therefore nothing disagreeable. What one calls 'clear' soup in England is invariably dim. It s like a 'clear' day in Scotland: you can't see half an inch in it. Thames water is about as transparent as clear soup with us. But what of that, Sir? I am used to it; and I say again, 1 like things I am used to. Don't talk to me, then, about wanting more 'variety,' about your 'relevés' and 'consommés' - and 'dining à la Russe!' I say, that, as an Englishman, I like plain English fare; and, as an Englishman, I am by constitution slow to change my tastes. I know what I like, and what I like I mean to stick to. To hate all foreign kickshaws seems, to my mind, I confess, the duty of a Briton. It shows his noble self-contentedness, and independence of advice.
Punch, January 29, 1859
DINER A LA RUSSE
Host. "STAY, STEVENS - WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH THE
SALMON? NOBODY HAS HAD ANY OF IT!"
Butler. "PRAY, SIR, WHAT ARE WE TO HAVE FOR SUPPER?"
Punch, March 8, 1862