Or, if desired, the finger bowls may be brought after the bonbons. In this case the finger bowl and plate are exchanged for the plate of the dessert course. An informal way is to pass finger bowls on plates and doilies before the dessert course. Then the finger bowl and doily are set aside as at breakfast and the dessert served on the same plate.
ORDER OF SEATING AND SERVING GUESTS.--The host and hostess usually sit opposite each other, i.e. at the head and foot of the table. If there is a waitress to do the serving, the head of the table should be farthest from the entrance of the dining room. If there is no maid, the hostess's chair should be nearest the kitchen door or pantry. A woman guest of honor sits at the right of the host; a gentleman guest, at the right of the hostess.
The order of serving guests varies in different homes and for different occasions. Sometimes the women at the table are served before the men. This is usually done, however, for home service or when only a few persons are at the table. At a large dinner table or a banquet, guests are usually served in the order in which they sit. In many homes, the guests are served first, while in others the hostess is always the first to be served. At a family meal, when no guests are present, the hostess should always be served first.
METHOD OF SERVING WITHOUT A MAID
When there is no maid, a woman has a threefold duty to perform when serving a meal. She must act as cook, as waitress, and as hostess. Much skill, ingenuity, and practice are required to do this successfully. The underlying principle of its accomplishment is forethought. A hostess must plan, even to the minutest detail, the performance of each duty.
PREPARATION BEFORE ANNOUNCING THE MEAL.--In planning the menu, a wise selection should be made. Simple foods should be selected and but few courses should be served. A young hostess should remember that a simple meal easily served is more enjoyable and more fitting than an elaborate dinner where the hostess must frequently leave the table. Foods should be selected that can be prepared before the meal is served, and that will not be harmed by standing. A souffle which must be served immediately when taken from the oven is not a wise choice for such a meal.
For almost all meals some of the dishes and foods must be left in the warming oven or in the refrigerator, but as many dishes and foods as possible should be taken to the dining room before the meal is announced. The suggestion has been made that dishes be kept warm by placing them in a pan of hot water on the serving table. This would mean, however, that a tea towel be at hand to dry the dishes before using. Special hot-water dishes for the purpose can now be obtained in city shops.
A serving table or a wheel tray (see Figure 34) is of great service to a woman acting as hostess and waitress. It should be placed near the hostess so that she can reach it without rising from her chair. In the absence of a wheel tray, a large serving tray is a great convenience in setting and clearing the table; it saves many steps.
[Illustration: FIGURE 34--WHEEL TRAY.]
SERVING AT THE TABLE.--The English style of serving should be followed. The hostess may thus have the aid of the host and the other members of the family in serving. Moreover, serving in this manner gives an air of hospitality.
As hostess, a woman must not leave her place at the table many times or for many minutes. If the details of the meal have not been well planned, she will have to make many trips to the kitchen. This is one of the indications that the presence of guests is a burden to the hostess. She should never leave or enter the dining room empty-handed, for a saving of energy is more sensible than faithful adherence to form. The soiled dishes, as they are removed from the table, may be placed upon the serving table. By the use of the latter, the dining table can be kept free from an overcrowded appearance and the hostess saved many steps. The lower shelf of the serving table is the most desirable place for the soiled dishes.