“The tea table was crowned with a huge earthen dish, well stored with slices of fat pork, fried brown, cut up into morsels, and swimming in gravy. The company seated round the genial board, evinced their dexterity in launching their forks at the fattest pieces in this mighty dish, – in much the same manner that sailors harpoon porpoises at sea, or our Indians spear salmon in the lakes.
“Sometimes the table was graced with immense apple pies, or saucers full of preserved peaches and pears; but it was always sure to boast an enormous dish of balls of sweetened dough, fried in hog’s fat and called doughnuts or olykoeks, a delicious kind of cake, at present little known in this city, except in genuine Dutch families.
“The tea was served out of a majestic Delft teapot, ornamented with paintings of fat little Dutch shepherds and shepherdesses tending pigs, – with boats sailing in the air, and houses built in the clouds, and sundry other ingenious Dutch fancies. The beaux distinguished themselves by their adroitness in replenishing this pot from a huge copper teakettle. To sweeten the beverage, a lump of sugar was laid beside each cup, and the company alternately nibbled and sipped with great decorum; until an improvement was introduced by a shrewd and economic old lady, which was to suspend, by a string from the ceiling, a large lump directly over the tea table, so that it could be swung from mouth to mouth.
“At these primitive tea parties, the utmost propriety and dignity prevailed, – no flirting nor coquetting; no romping of young ladies; no self-satisfied struttings of wealthy gentlemen, with their brains in their pockets, nor amusing conceits and monkey divertisements of smart young gentlemen, with no brains at all.”
From A History Of New York by Diedrich Knickerbocker (Washington Irving), 1809