By a curious coincidence, Shakespeare’s birthday and the day on which he died are the same — the twenty-third of April — so this date is peculiarly appropriate for a luncheon to a literary club, or a group of literary friends.
There is ample scope here for all sorts of Shakespearian suggestions, from views of his home, or sketches of Anne Hathaway’s cottage on the cards, to quotations taken from one play, or from many; for reminders of some one heroine, or suggestions of some historic event. One might have a Rosalind or Juliet luncheon, or carry out in one of half a dozen ways some play which a class has been studying.
The flowers should certainly be English, either roses or primroses, and the decorations should be rather simple, as in keeping with the classic nature of the presiding genius of the day. The cards might bear a cut of his head, or each guest might have a small plaster bust, preferably one of the odd-colored ones which are sold in Stratford; the plain plaster ones are easily colored; or, if these little busts are not easily procured, get the small Japanese masks which are so artistic; they cost but a few cents each, and the expressions will convey the idea of comedy and tragedy.
Strawberries will be in market in cities by the latter part of April, and these will make a first course.
Broiled Mushrooms On Toast.
French Fried Potatoes.
Chocolate. Lemon and Peppermint Ice.
Tomato And Lettuce Salad.
Coffee Mousse. Cakes. Bonbons.
The strawberries should be served with their hulls on, with a spoonful of powdered sugar on each plate; this may be moulded in a pyramid by pressing it into a little paper horn Of course finger bowls should be placed on the table at each plate.
The mousse may be either in a melon form or in slices, as is more convenient, but a little whipped cream served with it is an improvement in either case. Having this dessert, coffee is not offered at the close of the meal, as is usually done, but a cup of chocolate is passed with the chop course. The mousse is made by whipping sweetened cream, strongly-flavored with black coffee, until it is perfectly stiff, and packing it in a mould and burying it in ice and salt for at least four hours before it is needed.
If a breakfast is desired for this Shakespeare celebration, as possibly may be if given for a club or class, this luncheon may be easily transformed into one. Breakfasts and luncheons differ principally in the hour at which the meal is served, a breakfast being at twelve and a luncheon at one or half after one.
It is also customary to begin a breakfast with fruit, and often, though not always, the meal concludes with cheese and coffee rather than with a sweet. This menu might be altered to cover these requirements, for as it begins with strawberries, there need be no change until the final course, except that the chocolate should be omitted.
Instead of the mousse, serve creme Gervaise; that is, a slice of cream cheese about one inch by three, with a spoonful of whipped cream on it and a spoonful of gooseberry jam by its side. There is a variety of French preserved gooseberries called Barle-Duc which is particularly delicious. Sometimes before serving this dish the cheese is beaten with a little olive oil or cream to make it soft and light, and then it is pressed into shape again before it is cut into pieces for serving. If this is the final course at breakfast, serve coffee with it.
There are an unlimited number of Shakespearian quotations for the cards, but for a woman’s meal they might be taken either from the words of Juliet, Katharine, Portia, Rosalind, Hermione, Ophelia, Hero, Celia, Imogen, and Helena, or else the familiar ones which are given below; in case this luncheon or breakfast is given for those interested in study, a guessing contest might be introduced, with or without prizes, as to the context of these quotations:
“Daffodils, that come before the swallow does.”
“Thou shalt not lack the flower that’s like the face, Pale primrose.”
“I could wish my best friend at such a feast.”
“Things won, are done. Joy’s soul lies in the doing.”
“I have been so well brought up that I can write my name.”
“You have no cause to hold my friendship doubtful; I never was nor never will be false.”
“Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”
“My heart unto yours is knit, So that but one heart we can make of it.”
“Loving goes by haps; Some Cupid kills with arrows, some with traps.”
“Of good discourse, an excellent musician.”
“My affection hath an unknown bottom.”
Second menu suggestion
Still another menu may be given for those who cannot obtain some of the articles suggested, such as strawberries, crabs, or fresh mushrooms.
Sardines On Toast.
Chops. Peas. French Fried Potatoes.
Lettuce Salad With Shredded Bananas.
Coffee Mousse. Cakes. Bonbons.
In this menu, the patties are to be filled with canned mushrooms, cut in bits and creamed. The salad is made by cutting bananas in halves, and then cutting each half into strips no larger than a knitting needle; these are to be arranged on lettuce with French dressing poured over the last thing before serving.
A beautiful decoration for an April luncheon may be arranged with crocuses, flowers seldom or never seen on our tables, and therefore especially desirable by way of novelty. Have a large flat basket in the center of the table filled with moss, and in this stick crocuses of all colors with their leaves, crowding as closely as possible.
Repeat the colors in your candle-shades, if you use candles, having them delicate lilac with yellow touches on the edges, and use ribbon candy in lilac, yellow, and white. Serve yellow ices, or white ones in lilac baskets, and lay some of the crocuses on the plates with the finger bowls which appear with the coffee.