The Up-to-Date Waitress, by Janet McKenzie Hill

Deciding to take a break from the sex-ed craziness for a day or so, I read through one of the cookery books I have found, thanks to Google Book Search.

The Up-to-Date Waitress, while not as mockworthy as some other publications, still has a few choice bits. The book, which I originally thought meant “restaurant waitress,” really means “the excessive chores of a servant and maid from 1906.” This book has EVERYTHING, and is a quite interesting piece on how female servants had to perform their duties. Every step must be measured, uniform pristine, and above all, one must never, ever confuse Russian breakfast service with that of English! (I read through both painstaking descriptions and I don’t see much of a difference, frankly, but I just throw plates and cutlery down in a slapdash fashion, so what do I know? [After a link on foodreference dot com, I figured out in thirty seconds what the author of this book failed to impart after twenty five pages: Russian service consists of each course being served individually, while English service is wherein several dishes (or all, depending upon the number of courses) are served at the same time and guests help themselves to portions.]




I just want to know, did people really care that a waitress was standing upon your left side to serve the potatoes, rather than the right side? It seems rather silly, but then again, we are far removed from such times now.


A “helpful” tip from the salad section: “a ‘pianissimo touch’ of onion is a grateful addition to most salads.”



Cold potatoes in oily dressing are not palatable or hygienic. I’ll give her the first, but what’s unhygienic about them? One must needs give it a touch of onion, and garlic, perhaps, but this last is very crude, and must be used in moderation, such as merely rubbing the bowl with it. Remember, only dirty dagos eat the garlic whole (and they smell like it, too)! Why, just the other day, Marsha, I saw that ragpicker on the street, Gee Oh Vanee, and oh, goodness me, it smelled as if he were marinating in it. I wish something would be done about . . . those people.


Remember, kids: if you want to make a salad, and you don’t have a good mental picture of what that salad might look like, well, then, it’s bound to be disappointing. Inspiration is the devil’s handmaiden. How do you know when a potato salad is properly dressed? When your patience is exhausted, you’ve reached the breaking point and wish for the sweet release of death. Then, and only then, is your salad ready.


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