Yet I can't shake the feeling that women who got together for luncheons were expected to somehow become ethereal beings who needed little more than sweets, relishes, and a little something light and airy to sustain them. How such creatures managed to survive in the world outside of ladies' luncheons or even eat the "hearty" fare families required remains a mystery.
Better Homes and Gardens Lunches and Brunches from 1963 highlights the divide on a single page (making sure to emphasize hearty for the family and fancy for the ladies):
A family meal requires corned beef baked on biscuits with mayonnaise, cheese, tomatoes, and olives. The family needs a side of thick soup filled with potatoes, bacon, and corn. Lest the salad seem a bit too dainty, the recipe recommends onion rings for croutons! The spread is so impressive that it serves as the book's cover:
Contrast this with the spread for the ladies: potato chips, strawberries, angel food cake, and "relishes galore" (I can't help imagining Relishes Galore as Pussy Galore's much less popular sister!) go with Spring Sandwich Puffs. They're essentially asparagus sandwiches, each topped with a tiny souffle.
All so delicate and airy! The relishes are even arranged to look like flowers in vases. I can't help thinking that the little free-form souffles look sort of like what my cat leaves on the carpet after he's eaten canned cat food too quickly, though.
And saying things like that is probably part of the reason I'm never invited to any ladies' luncheons. Well, that and the fact that I don't live in the '50s or '60s.