My late father always insisted that when you served coffee to friends or clients, you had to serve Petits Fours. You would never serve cookies as they do today in the age of casualness.
I remember once when going to some restaurant who had a good reputation he asked for Petits Fours with his coffee, Dad only drank Espresso, now this was in the late 1960’s, the waiter brought dry tea biscuits. Dad immediately asked him why he had done that, the waiter replied you asked for a cookie. That was not the right answer to give. Dad pointed out that a tea biscuit is not a Petit Four. We never went back, Dad knew the owner and had a dim view of the man after that, because in his opinion you cannot pretend to be up-market and serve mediocrity.
My Dad was an hotel manager for 50 years and he had very specific ideas about food, service and how you ran an hotel, from the type of flowers you could have in a dinning room, to the linens, how to polish a marble floor for the greatest shine and attitude towards service and clients. He left nothing to chance and expected the staff to be attentive to their duties. He often arrived at work when the night shift was leaving so he could greet the day shift in person at the employee’s entrance door around 06:30am.
I learned so many things from him, when I was 6 yrs old, Dad decided that it was time to learn how to make mix drinks. I watched him carefully as he made a Bloody Caesar, with clamato juice, it is Canada’s Official Cocktail. Then it was on to dry Martini and he pointed out that the little white onion coming out of the jar had a vinegar taste to them, so you had to rince them quickly in cold water to take away the taste. He always wanted me to know these things so I was prepared, just in case.
This is why when I saw this old BBC 4 program with Fanny Cradock I thought of Dad and his Petits Fours.
Fanny Cradock, on BBC 4 a cooking show from the 1970’s.