The importance of such a subject as the one I have now taken in hand is apt to be much underrated. Many a starving family could be fed from the wasted superabundance which falls, in too many cases, not only from the rich man's, but the comparatively poor man's table.
There is no extravagance so disastrous as the extravagance of ignorance. It is perhaps as difficult to define precisely where hospitality and comfort end, and extravagance begins, as it is to define where economy ends and meanness begins. Strange to say, however, we not unfrequently find extravagance and meanness go hand in hand. How often do we find households conducted upon inconsistent principles ! For instance, a fine large house, dogs, horses, and carriages, and yet one cannot get a good glass of sherry at dinner, or any wine at all after. Rows of fine greenhouses as well as hot-houses, full of rare plants, and no fire in the bedroom. I sometimes think that quite the poor are a great deal better off than the rich for real luxuries.
I know I have stopped at some houses, and thought with a sigh of the poor man's, with the feather bed, especially when the blankets are out of pawn. After all, happiness is much more equally distributed in the world than some people think for, and living in one room has its advantages as well as its drawbacks. The pennyworth of fried fish warmed up in the oven, with appetite sauce, will hold its own with the best of vols-au-vent without. But all this has very little to do with the subject, which is not household management in general, but table extravagance in particular.
Perhaps the most common form of extravagance is profusion, which is very marked in certain dishes; and we before called attention to melted butter, which is invariably made in quantity sufficient for quite ten times the number at dinner. Fish is commonly supplied in quantity enough for double the number; for instance, three or four persons do not want a pair of large soles ; one would be ample, and the other would do for breakfast cooked fresh ; instead, it is either warmed up and spoilt, or eaten cold at the servants' supper with a knife and vinegar. Another form of extravagance is cooking too many potatoes every day regularly. I know one or two houses where more than half the dish of potatoes has been left every day for the last twenty years, and I feel confident will continue to be left for twenty years to come. Again, c some servants invariably cut up a great deal more bread for dinner than is necessary, the stale pieces left too often finding their way into the pig-tub. Speaking of pig-tubs reminds me of a little incident that came to my knowledge only last Christmas. A gentleman living in a country village kept one pig, and had been in the habit of paying is. a week for grains from the brewery. His [gardener, who lived in a little cottage a mile off, and kept pigs of his own, informed him that he was in the habit of buying pigwash from the cooks in the neighbourhood, to whom he paid is. a month, and suggested that he should receive the is. a week, and in return find the wash, guaranteeing the pig would thrive far better. The first pail of wash the man brought to the house ought indeed to be a caution to housekeepers, containing as it did large lumps of bread, whole cooked potatoes, and chicken-bones half-picked.
The gentleman, who is my own brother, declared to me that he had seen pails of pig-wash containing broken victuals sufficient to keep a poor family for a week, and jokingly remarked that should he ever be really hard up, he should dine at his pig's. These facts, however, are no joke. I believe the extravagance of ignorant servants, in large households where the mistress does not enter into domestic affairs, is beyond all conception. As Sam Weller observes, if some servants got their deserts it would be very little cold swarry they would ever eat again. I have known cases where a jug of beer left from a late dinner has been poured down the sink, and some fresh beer drawn for the kitchen supper, on the ground that the beer left would taste flat.
Some joints are undoubtedly more extravagant than others. I wonder what a French cook thinks of the English roast loin of mutton. The bones are always left half-picked on the plate, and too often the end left altogether, besides which the roast loin of mutton seems to possess the unamiable property of getting cold sooner than any other joint I know of.
Now, bone the joint, and stuff it with veal stuffing; the raw bones will of course make soup, and nothing is wasted.
It is always extravagant to use up any joint or poultry, when it can be helped, when bones are left on the plates. I succeeded some little time ago in persuading a shockingly bad housekeeper not to bring up the remains of a large turkey cold. It was treated instead as follows :—With the assistance of a small tin of mushrooms, part of it made some Russian Kromeskies; another part made a dish of mince; some nice slices cut off the remains of the breast were converted into a capital Mayonnaise ; while the two legs—for it was a fine bird, weighing twenty-one pounds—were devilled, and sent up with some devil sauce, which I may briefly describe as follows :—Cut up some young onions very fine, and moisten them with a very little French vinegar, and boil for about five Or six minutes j add some cayenne pepper, some good strong gravy, wine, and anchovy butter, which latter consists of filleted anchovies pounded very thoroughly in a mortar with some butter and cayenne.
Any grilled meat, such as a chop, or drumsticks of fowls, is very much improved by a sauce of this kind. Of course, the cayenne must be suited in quantity to the tastes of the eaters. But to return to the turkey : by treating it in the manner I have described, there was no waste, all the bones being saved, and the result was that they made more than half a gallon of stock, which when cold was a hard jelly.