23-3. Ladies Bridge Lunch: Gender Food Once Again

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I wrote in #3-3 about Fannie Farmer’s influence on the menus of ladies lunch. It was Fannie and her domestic science movement, way back in the end of the 19th century that established the idea that there is food for women and food for men. Ladylike food and un-ladylike food.

Cookbooks that followed over the decades confirmed the existence of a rule, almost, as to what was suitable for a ladies’ lunch or ladies’ bridge lunch as opposed to a menu planned with men also in mind. An article in 1946, from House Beautiful, by Florence Paine, as I say in my Bridge Table book, “analyzes the food tastes of women in gender terms as flagrant as those used during the domestic science movement in the 19th century.”

The author suggests that women want to analyze food from the point of view of the cook, “appreciate the craftsmanship . . . identify the dash of rosemary . . . they like to be surprised.”

What’s for lunch in Paine’s article? A liqueur-flavored fruit cup, paupiettes of veal, a molded vegetable salad (“one of those pretty salads that are anathema to men”) and Dents de Lion for dessert. What’s Lion’s Teeth (I think I have that translation correct)? Crepes arranged beautifully on a pretty serving plate and edged with strawberries dipped in grape jelly. The whole is then sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar and flaming run poured over all.

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