Food Friday: The Etiquette of Thanksgiving Leftovers

Cherished friends, here is an interesting question asked of The Lady, but one that is sure to apply to a number of people.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

For the past six years on the day after Thanksgiving, my sister-in-law has a party at her home. She feels that since we are all not together on the holiday proper, it can be a ‘second-edition’ Thanksgiving for us. She extends invitations to about a dozen of us in the family. My question is this: Is it really  acceptable for her to heat up her Thanksgiving leftovers and serve these items to us as she has been doing? Don’t get me wrong, her cooking is wonderful, but I can’t help but feel that it is a little rude to be served leftover food.  Who is correct here?

I Don’t Like Leftovers

Dear I Don’t Like Leftovers,

The Lady admits that she has never been asked this question before, so some time was needed to come up with a thoughtful answer.

  1. The Lady believes that since she is very upfront about this being a ‘second-edition’ Thanksgiving and is inviting family only, this is perfectly fine. The Lady wonders just what else you would be eating on the day after Thanksgiving if you weren’t eating turkey and all the fixings?
  2. Your sister-in-law is being gracious by providing a venue for you all to be together after not spending the holiday proper together. Her invitation is sent from affection.
  3. What’s wrong with eating food that is wonderfully cooked?
  4. The Lady is pleased to see that she will not be discarding perfectly good food, but sharing it with you all.

The one caveat to this that The Lady will add: It never seems proper to serve leftovers in any other circumstance than this one: Invite family or extremely close friends only and be upfront.

Try to be gracious yourself, even if you do not like leftovers.

Best Leftover Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Food Friday: Cocktails with Mr. Babcock and Mame

Cherished readers, The Lady hopes you will enjoy this fun, short snippet from one of her favorite films, Auntie Mame starring Rosalind Russell. Little Patrick Dennis demonstrates impeccable manners in his dealings with Mr. Babcock. A true gentleman host!

Best Friday Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

Food Friday: Six Course Formal Dinner

Cherished readers, today rather than looking at individual foods, let us examine the courses to serve at a formal dinner. The Lady realizes that these occasions are few and far between for most folks, but there is certainly nothing wrong with a little knowledge on this fine Food Friday. The Lady bases her thoughts here on the advice and training she received from numerous etiquette books and applies these guidelines to her own entertaining.

Six courses is the maximum number to serve at even the most formal of gatherings. More than this and your place settings will be huge and your guests confused.

  1. Choose one: Fresh fruit cup, soup, shellfish or melon. The shellfish selection may include oysters, shrimp, or clams.
  2. Fish course (which you would omit if you served shellfish in the first course) or a dish such as sweetbreads (not sweet breads. Google if you don’t know what this is. As an aside, The Lady prefers to serve the fish course as a matter of courtesy for those who will not eat sweetbreads.)
  3. The entree, which may be chicken, turkey, or roast beef. You may also consider a vegetarian option for those who are not meat eaters.
  4. Salad. The salad may also be served with the entree in a separate side dish. It is entirely correct to serve the salad after the entree, despite the custom to serve it first in restaurants.
  5. Dessert
  6. Coffee (or tea, port wine, brandy)

A well-balance menu is imperative and should be easy to achieve with this number of courses. Strike a balance between rich dishes and the more simple ones.

The appearance of the food should also be considered. Think of color…don’t serve all white foods with white sauces on white plates (Ohhhh how boring!) Don’t serve all sweet or all savory dishes. Aim for a beautiful balance so that the foods may be enjoyed thoroughly.

Arrange vegetables neatly in the serving dish. Arrange the meats neatly, also, rather than just piling them high on a platter. Make it interesting for your guests. Appeal to all of the senses!!!

Best Dinner Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Food Friday: Finger Foods

Cherished readers, there never seems to be a shortage of questions about food etiquette and table manners. Today The Lady will review items that may properly be consumed as ‘finger foods’. Bon Appetit.

Pizza: Except at a very formal dinner where one would use knife and fork (The Lady can truthfully say that she has never been to a formal dinner where pizza was served) pizza is eaten in your fingers with the wedge sides held together so that the cheese and filling do not come out. Have a napkin handy, just in case.

French Fries: Plain, small french fries with no gravy or ketchup on them can be eaten using your fingers, unless they are extremely greasy. Large french fries, or those served with gravy or other sauce are best eaten using fork.

Artichokes: A finger food. See post about this interesting vegetable here

Bacon: Only very crisp bacon may be eaten using your fingers.

Fried chicken: Should be eaten as a finger food on informal occasions, but this seems to perhaps be a regional preference. The Lady has had her second home in the South for just about 5 years now. The first time she attempted to eat fried chicken with a knife and fork, she received many quizzical looks. The Lady cannot recall when she was served fried chicken at a formal dinner.

Corn On The Cob: Finger food. See post here

Sandwiches: Small sandwiches may be eaten from the fingers, but large, high stacked sandwiches would be better eaten with a knife and fork. Imagine how big your mouth would have to be opened if you tried to fit a triple-decker club sandwich into it and how you would feel if someone snapped a picture at that moment. (Gracious!)

Olives and celery: Finger foods. Just a gentle reminder not to stick the olives on the ends of your fingers and nibble on them thoughtfully. The Lady admits that she did this as a child (and with great glee) but once one reaches the age of ten or so, it is no longer appropriate (alas).

Best Food Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Food Friday: Okie Dokie Artichokie

Cherished readers, because my posts about Food and Table Manners seem to be the most popular, I have designated Fridays as Food Fridays. Today’s post deals with artichokes, because people seem confused about how to eat them and also because we Hooper-Bracketts like to eat them here at the estate.

The artichoke is a study in contrasting textures. You have the tender leaves,  the inedible fuzzy ‘choke’ and finally the soft heart. Did you know that the artichoke is in the thistle family? When we cook it and eat it, it is an immature thistle bud. Here is the artichoke in all of its blooming glory:

Artichike flower.jpg

But as we are not interested in growing it…let’s get back to consuming it.

When you are served an artichoke, you must remember that it is a finger food. You pull the leaves off (one at a time), dip the meaty base into the sauce that is served with the artichoke (usually a hollandaise or a lemon butter) and then pull the leaf through your teeth to scrape off the end dipped in sauce. You would then place the inedible part of the leaf on the side of your plate. (Be neat!) You will proceed with each leaf in this fashion until you reach the center where you will find the fuzzy ‘choke’. Remove this fuzzy layer with a spoon, but don’t scrape too deeply…you want to keep the best part intact: The heart. You may cut heart into small bits and dip in the sauce.

For those who need a visual, The Lady found this short video for your viewing pleasure.

Best Food Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

Vintage Emily Post : Table Manners

Cherished readers, on of The Lady’s favorite pastimes is watching vintage and retro videos on YouTube. Today I am sharing a video from the Doyenne of  Etiquette, Emily Post. I cannot help but wish these types of educational film strips would regain popularity in the schools. I hope you enjoy!

Best Thursday Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

 

 

A Question of Asparagus

Cherished readers, The Lady was pleased to find this electronic correspondence while she sipped coffee this morning.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett, 

I am a busy mom with three young sons. I have tried to teach them correct table manners. During our weekly Try-A-New-Food night meal, I served asparagus to them for the first time. I had instructed them that they could eat the asparagus spears with their fingers, but my husband told me that he felt this wasn’t correct. Do you know?

Signed,

Trying My Best 

Dear Trying My Best,

You ask if I know the answer and The Lady humbly says….why, yes, I do.

You may use the side of your fork to gently cut the soft part of the asparagus spear, impale it on the fork, and then convey it to your mouth. This method is preferred in most conservative circles, especially if the asparagus is quite soft and has been covered in some type of sauce.

If, however, the stalks are firm with the sauce only applied to the tops, you may properly pick the spears up with your fingers and eat the soft edible part down to the tough part of the spear. You would then neatly place the devoured stalks on the side of your plate.

You did not reveal to The Lady how you served this noble vegetable to your family, so I cannot say whether or not your husband was wrong in correcting you. I do commend you most effusively for introducing your sons to new foods. I am sure they are on their way to being cultured gentlemen.

Best Mealtime Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett