In serving tea and coffee, ascertain the tastes of those at the table as to sugar and cream. Put the cream and sugar in the cup, and an extra block of sugar in the saucer; pour in the liquid until the cup is three fourths full. Where there are no servants to wait on the table, this way makes less confusion than to pass the sugar and cream to each person.
Always provide a pitcher of boiling hot water and a slop-bowl. In cold weather, pour hot water into the cups to warm them; then turn it into the bowl. In serving a second time, rinse the inside of the cup with hot water before filling.
It was formerly considered necessary to divide a pie with mathematical exactness into quarters or sixths. A better way is to cut out one piece of the usual size and offer it, and then if less be desired, cut off such portions as may be needed.
In serving a pie, always use a fork with the knife.
Pies with no undercrust are more easily served with a broad knife or a triangular knife made expressly for pies. For serving berry and juicy fruit pies, a spoon also may be needed. Where two or three kinds are served, help to very small portions of each, even if it be at a Thanksgiving dinner.
It is presuming on the capacity of the common-sized plate, and it is an insult to the human stomach, to offer any one three sixths of a pie after a dinner of the usual courses.
Hot puddings of a soft consistency should be served with a spoon; sometimes a fork also is needed. With the edge of the spoon cut through the brown crust in a semicircle, slip the spoon under, and take up a spoonful; slip it off on the plate, leaving it right side up.
Take special case to serve temptingly anything with a meringue.
Anything stiff enough to be moulded should be cut in slices from three fourths of an inch to an inch thick; the wider slices in oval-shaped moulds may be divided through the middle. A broad silver knife with a raised edge is very convenient to use in serving Bavarian Cream, Ice-Creams, and Charlottes.
A pair of grape scissors should be laid on the fruit-dish to use in dividing large bunches of grapes or raisins; but a nut-cracker is too suggestive of hotel life to be acceptable on the home table. Crack the nuts before they are sent to the table. Salt should be served with the nuts.
Pass oranges, apples, pears, peaches, and bananas in the fruit-dish, to allow each person the opportunity of choice.
Watermelon. Before serving, cut a slice from each end. Make incisions through the middle in the form of the letter V, separate the parts, and place each in an upright position. Cut through the divisions, and serve one section to each person.