Books > The Queen-like Closet or Rich Cabinet (1672) > To the Gentlewomen

To the Gentlewomen who have the Charge of the Sweet-Meats, and such like Repasts

Gentlewomen,

Perhaps you do already know what belongs to serving in fine Cream Cheeses, Jellies, Leaches or Sweet-meats, or to set forth Banquets as well as I do; but (pardon me) I speak not to any knowing Person, but to the Ignorant, because they may not remain so; besides really there are new Modes come up now adays for eating and drinking, as well as for Clothes, and the most knowing of you all may perhaps find somewhat here which you have not already seen; and for the Ignorant, I am sure they may ground themselves very well from hence in many accomplishments, and truly I have taken this pains to impart these things for the general good of my Country, as well as my own, and have done it with the more willingness, since I find so many Gentlewomen forced to serve, whose Parents and Friends have been impoverished by the late Calamities, viz. the late Wars, Plague, and Fire, and to see what mean Places they are forced to be in, because they want Accomplishments for better.

I am blamed by many for divulging these Secrets, and again commended by others for my Love and Charity in so doing; but however I am better satisfied with imparting them, than to let them die with me; and if I do not live to have the Comfort of your Thanks, yet I hope it will cause you to speak well of me when I am dead: The Books which before this I have caused to be put in Print, found so good an acceptance, as that I shall still go on in imparting what I yet have so fast as I can.

Now to begin with the Ordering those things named to you:

If it be but a private Dinner or Supper in a Noble House, where they have none to honour above themselves, I presume it may be thus:

In Summer time, when the Meat is all taken away, you may present your several sorts of Cream Cheeses; One Meal one Dish of Cream of one sort, the next of another; one or two Scollop Dishes with several sorts of Fruit, which if it be small fruit, as Rasps or Strawberries, they must be first washed in Wine in a Dish or Bason, and taken up between two Spoons, that you touch them not.

With them you may serve three or four small Dishes also with Sweet-meats, such as are most in season, with Vine Leaves and Flowers between the Dishes and the Plates, two wet Sweet-meats, and two dry, two of one colour, and two of another, or all of several colours.

Also a Dish of Jellies of several colours in one Dish, if such be required.

If any be left, you may melt them again, and put them into lesser Glasses, and they will be for another time:

If any dry ones be left, they are soon put into the Boxes again.

If any persons come in the afternoon, if no greater, or so great as the Person who entertains them, then you may present one or two Dishes of Cream only, and a whipt Sillibub, or other, with about four Dishes of Sweet-meats served in, in like manner as at Dinner, with Dishes of Fruit, and some kind of Wine of your own making; at Evenings, especially on Fasting Days at Night, it is fit to present some pretty kind of Creams, contrary from those at Dinner, or instead of them some Possets, or other fine Spoon Meats, which may be pleasant to the taste, with some wet and dry Sweet-meats, and some of your fine Drinks, what may be most pleasing.

At a Feast, you may present these things following.

So soon as the Meat is quite taken away, have in readiness your Cream Cheeses of several sorts and of several of Colours upon a Salver, then some fresh Cheese with Wine and Sugar, another Dish of Clouted Cream, and a Noch with Cabbage Cream of several Colours like a Cabbage; then all sorts of Fruits in season, set forth as followeth:

First, You must have a large Salver made of light kind of Wood, that it may not be too heavy for the Servitor to carry, it must be painted over, and large enough to hold six Plates round about and one larger one in the middle, there must be places made in it to set the Plates in, that they may be very fast and sure from sliding, and that in the middle the seat must be much higher than all the rest, because that is most graceful; your Plates must not be so broad as the Trencher Plates at Meat, and should be either of Silver or China.

Set your Plates fast, then fill every one with several sorts of Fruits, and the biggest sort in the middle, you must lay them in very good order, and pile them up till one more will not lie; then stick them with little green Sprigs and fine Flowers, such as you fancy best; then serve in another such Salver, with Plates piled up with all manner of Sweet-meats, the wet Sweet-meats round about and the dry in the middle, your wet Sweet-meats must be in little glasses that you may set the more on, and between every two glasses another above the first of all, and one on the top of them all; you must put of all sorts of dryed Sweet-meats in the middle Plate, first your biggest and then your lesser, till you can lay no more; then stick them all with Flowers and serve them: And in the Bason of Water you send in to wash the Hands or Fingers of Noble Persons, you must put in some Orange Flower Water, which is very rare and very pleasant.

In Winter you must alter, as to the season, but serve all in this manner; and then dryed Fruits will also be very acceptable; as dryed Pears and Pippins, Candied Oranges and Limons, Citrons and Eringoes, Blanched Almonds, Prunelles, Figs, Raisins, Pistachoes and Blanched Walnuts.