Simplicity, and again simplicity-On the folly of trying to produce dinners on the same lines as the banquets of the rich, who employ first-class French cooks-An excellent dinner quite possible in any house, even in lodgings.
Let your dinner, even for a party, be simple. Really good French cooking is simple and not a bit like the rich, make-believe French dishes we so often meet with, intended to charm the eye by decoration in doubtful taste rather than to rejoice the palate. Allow me also to say to those who are not dyspeptics, but who may be leading indoor lives, that simple, daintily cooked and judiciously varied meats would be far better for their health and comfort than the usual style of cooking at a London dinner party.
Do not overrate the capacity and the talents of your excellent, but not highly artistic, cook, by urging imitation of the fancy dishes of the distinguished chef of your most noble friend, the Marquis de Carabas. Depend upon it, with first-class materials, a simple dinner is vastly more successful than an elaborate one. One of the very best dinners I ever enjoyed was given by a bachelor in his lodgings, and the bill of fare consisted only of oysters (no soup), a John Dory, a saddle of mutton, potatoes baked in the ashes, a pheasant, a plum-pudding, and a piece of well-matured Camembert cheese, all washed down with '74 champagne, followed by a grand bottle of claret. In this case perfection had been secured by the care our host had displayed in personally selecting each article, and by the equally careful instructions given by him to the modest cook, or possibly to the landlady herself.