Tuesday, May 29, 2012

British Royal Dining... the Tidbits, Oddities, Numbers, Etiquette Facts... 

Oh yes... and the Queen's Salt Dip that is Nearly 300 Years Old!

So maybe you'd like to dine like the royal family?  Or possibly attend a dinner at one of their many palaces?  Maybe you dine royally while day dreaming.
  If by chance there is ever an opportunity for you to go to dinner with HRH at the palace, here are a few things you may find interesting...  The silver service (aka "The Grand Service") is so large, and so complete with every type of utensil imaginable, it takes eight (yes... eight) palace employees at least three weeks to get ready for setting on the tables.  Though the Grand Service is kept by the Yeoman of the Silver Pantry (that is the actual title) in a controlled atmosphere, each piece still needs to be washed, shined and polished to perfection prior to a State Dinner.

Don't think about asking the Queen to "Please pass the salt."  She has her own salt dip, or salt cellar, and it is not part of the 2,000 plus silver pieces used for a State Dinner. The Queen's is a salt dip that was made by Nicholas Clausen in 1721. 
Page from the book,"For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace"

   All of this comes from a wonderful book entitled "For the Royal Table: Dining at the Palace" and was created by "The Royal Collection" in Great Britain.  It includes historic menus, royal traditions, the silver, the crystal, the china... everything the royal family has used for the past 500 years.  

From the Royal Collection website, in 2008 announcing the publication of the book there is this..."The style of dining has changed considerably over the centuries, as can been seen from the elaborate menus and recipes from past royal banquets. At a lavish dinner given by Charles II for the Garter Knights at Windsor Castle in 1671, guests were served 145 dishes during the first course, and the catering included 16 barrels of oysters, 2,150 poultry, 1,500 crayfish, 6,000 asparagus stalks and 22 gallons of strawberries." and much more.

The book shows the finger bowls set out for the dessert or fruit course.
Menu for the Wedding Breakfast of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth in 1923
The table gets white glove treatment.

And the white "booty" treatment too!

Here is more from "The Royal Collection" website: "Contemporary photographs show how Royal Household staff, including chefs, footmen, pages, florists and housemaids, guarantee the highest standards of presentation at a State Banquet.   The laying of the table begins two days before the dinner, and each place-setting measures exactly 45cm (18in) across.  During the meal, a system of ‘traffic lights’ keeps the team of footmen and pages synchronised; a blue light communicates ‘stand by’ and an amber light signals ‘serve the food’.  Each guest has six glasses (one each for red wine, white wine, water and port, and two for champagne – one for the toast and one for the pudding course).  A diagram of the arrangement of the glasses guides those who are unfamiliar with the sequence of service.

From the Royal Photograph Collection is a charming series of portraits of Queen Victoria’s footmen and pages, many of whom had started in royal service under her uncle, William IV.  Serving food in a royal palace presented particular challenges. Staff were instructed that ‘trays must be kept level so that there is no spilling of gravy or sauces’.  At Windsor Castle every dish had  to  be  carried  up  narrow  stairs from  the Great Kitchen to  the State Apartments.  The chefs always made twenty extra dishes for each course in case of a disaster.  Following the devastating fire of 1992, the restoration of the Castle included a complete refitting of the kitchen quarters, adding lifts to deliver the food.  Royal Household staff still prepare food in the Great Kitchen, the oldest working kitchen in England, where traditional copper pots from reign of George IV stand alongside high-tech catering equipment."

The book is a great read for anyone following the Royal Family or who is interested in history.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Art of the Social Graces

    The study of etiquette and social graces is a science, but practicing the knowledge gained from that science, is truly an art form that one develops!

   The Art of the Social Graces
     by Bernadette Michelle Petrotta

"Do not assume people enjoy forwarded emails.  Check with them first before sending"~from The Art of the Social Graces


Bernadette Petrotta is one of the few people I know, who practices the art of social graces in her everyday life. Long an etiquette instructor, her book is a concise, well written guide to etiquette, and how to artfully put that etiquette to use with social grace and ease.



"The essence of hospitality means leaving no detail unattended. Set your table with a sense of poise and a sense of welcome that brings warmth into your home."~from The Art of the Social Graces 


It is filled with helpful suggestions, and the rules for introductions, entertaining, dining out, helpful dining guidelines for all types of foods, table setting and place setting diagrams, appropriate attire, afternoon tea and much more.  There are one or two points I disagree with Bernadette on, but people have personal preferences, and we are no exception.  Besides that, I can find at least ten things I disagree on within the first few glances at the majority of newer books on etiquette that I see.  "The Art of the Social Graces" is an exception.


"The hostess will place a napkin on her lap.  The guests should follow suit." ~from The Art of the Social Graces

I do not generally recommend any new etiquette books, however this book is truly worth reading.  If you are in the etiquette business, feel flummoxed at the thought of entertaining, or know a new bride or bride-to-be who can use guidance, this book is an excellent choice for any bookshelf or home library.