Snippets 78. In the first snippet of this year we looked at a quote from Jonathan and his Continent, by Max O’Rell, one of my favourite ‘forgotten’ authors. Published in 1889, his book looks at American life and customs at the time. The following quote concerns the rather alarming eating habits of an American lady on board a ship.
I shall never forget a young American girl who sat at the same table as myself on board the steamer. The dear child, who was about seventeen, performed prodigies. I could scarcely believe my eyes, and watched her with never-flagging interest. What appetite! What a little table d’hote ogress! I trembled for our supplies, and wondered whether the Company had foreseen the danger.
First of all, at seven in the morning, tea and bread-and-butter was taken to the hungry one in her cabin. At half-past eight, she breakfasted. At this meal she generally went straight through the bill of fare. At eleven, she had beef-tea and biscuits brought to her on deck. Lunch-time found her ready for three courses of solid food, besides pastry, fruit, etc. At five, she had tea. At six o’clock, she did valiantly again; and at ten, she was regularly served with a welsh rabbit, or some other tasty trifle. Notwithstanding this, I rarely met her on deck, or in the corridors, but she was munching sweets, gingerbread, or chocolate.
After all, there are so few distractions on board ship! Men smoke, and perhaps play poker. Some people sleep, some try to think, but unsuccessfully, others read; some ladies knit. The American girl eats.
To read more about the brilliant Max O’Rell, take a look at Journals 5, which explores in detail his book A Frenchman in America.
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