I've talked about my deep and abiding love of Coralie Bickford Smith's Penguin Classics Covers before. Last week, I got my first big shipment of one of her latest projects, Penguin's Great Food series.
The collection consists of different books about food. The only one I have read is Samuel Pepys' Joys of Excess, but the rest are all brand new to me.
Over the past couple of nights, I've tucked in to the The Elegant Economist (1845) by Eliza Acton and The Campaign for Domestic Happiness (1861) by Isabella Beeton, which not only includes recipes, but also tables detailing how much you should be paying your servants (Scullery Maid - £4-8 a year). She also writes on appropriate dress and behaviour of the for mistress of the house.
My favourite section detailed the social rules for paying visits of courtesy and friendship:
"These visits [those of courtesy] should be short, a stay of fifteen to twenty minutes being quite sufficient. A lady paying a visit may remove her boa or neckerchief; but neither her shawl nor bonnet.... In paying visits of friendship, it will not be so necessary to be guided by etiquette as in paying visits of ceremony; and if a lady be pressed by her friend to remove her shawl and bonnet, it can be done if it will not interfere with her subsequent arrangements"
"It is not advisable, at any time, to take favourite dogs into another lady's drawing-room, for many persons have an absolute dislike to such animals; and besides this, there is always a chance of a breakage of some article occurring, through their leaping and bounding here and there, sometimes very much to the fear and annoyance of the hostess. Her children, also... should not accompany a lady in making morning calls... The children can be taken in the vehicle and remain in it until the visit is over."
Personally, I find is especially hilarious that the bit about dogs is placed before the bit about children.
And that they are compared to the animal, and not vice versa.
They books are just lovely little snippets of different time-periods! I highly recommend picking the series up. I'm thinking of attempting to cook one recipe from each book (not all contain recipes) where possible...