When the dessert and the wine were arranged, and Mrs Dashwood and Elinor were left by themselves, they remained long together in a similarity of thoughtfulness and silence. Sense and Sensibility In the 18th and 19th century, a formal dinner was looked upon as more than a fine meal. It was a sort of grand show. The finale of the meal–dessert–was the most elaborate and expensive course of the dinner; and it required a knowledgeable confectioner to create the spectacular dessert displays of the day. The dessert fare included biscuits in great variety and macaroons served for dipping into sweet wines and liqueurs. Sugar biscuits that were closely related to meringues and gimblettes de fleurs d’orange that were large knotted biscuits were popular. The most fashionable dessert–ices–were presented in little serving cups known as tasses à glaces and came in a variety of flavors including: pistachio, barberry, and rye bread. The table was decorated with sugar-paste (pastillage) sculptures in forms such as cherubs and architectural shapes that recreated a garden or exotic locale in miniature. The display might decorate the dinning table throughout the dinner or grace a special dessert table in another room. This centerpiece was known as a plateau. It was generally placed on a mirror to increase the light and would include such items as temples and all the features usually found in a garden such as decorative pattern hedges (parterres) and flowers all created in sugar. The sugar-paste sculptures might be made by pressing the sugar (more…)
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