Simanaitis Says

On cars, old, new and future; science & technology; vintage airplanes, computer flight simulation of them; Sherlockiana; our English language; travel; and other stuff


YESTERDAY, JOSEPHINE ENLIGHTENED us on transatlantic steamship travel, c. 1905. Today in Part 2, we’re amidst foreigners, but still profiting from sage advice given in The Travelers’ Handbook: A Manual for Transatlantic Tourists.

Coffee, Tea, or.… Josephine Tozier claimed that in England, “The coffee is never good; a wise traveler provides his own. Good coffee, already burned and ground, can be purchased even in a small city….”

It’s interesting that Tozier didn’t use the rather more appealing term “roasted.” 

By contrast, “Afternoon tea is a meal never neglected in England by the King or by any one of his subjects…. In addition to the beverage itself, which is habitually very strong and with which a small pot of cream or milk is served, there is a very elastic bill of fare for an English tea. Bread and butter, jam, cake, cold meat, eggs, and fruit in season are all eaten at tea-time.”

Image from A Little English Book of Teas.

English Food. “The English palate,” Tozier complained, “evidently does not require the stimulus of pepper or salt to relish the finely flavored vegetables. They are cooked innocent of added seasoning.”

Also, “The bread in England does not please a delicate taste. It is coarse and heavy, but it is always possible to have it toasted, and toasting bread is one of the few arts the English cook understands.” 

Then why, I ask, did they invent toast racks guaranteeing that toast will be served stone-cold?

Image from “Transportation Art, Utility, and Play.”

French Cuisine. By contrast, Tozier observed, “The French understand and enjoy the science of eating, and a glimpse into the cafés frequented by the artizans will reveal even workmen lingering over their simple food and making a dinner last long while they eat and chatter together.”

To Americans who fail to appreciate La Cuisine Française, Tozier advised, “Pack up your little bag, good sir, and go home and relieve the unfortunates who must live in the cheap pension of your private opinions and your tastes.”

Italian Manners and Customs. “Ladies,” Tozier noted, “need not be annoyed or displeased because so many of the male population stand and stare in the streets. Their gaze is not intended for impertinence, but as a sign of admiration, which the women of the country understand completely.” 

Tozier continued, “Young women who are not full of self-consciousness never notice these intent looks; to do so is to suggest on their part a desire for further acquaintance, and if they are pursued they have no one to blame but themselves.” 

Touring by Motor Car. Tozier included a section For Automobilists: She recommended The American Express Company as having “the most extensive experience in conveying motor cars. The steamship companies do not care to be bothered with such details….” 

Another option: Buy a new car locally. A hundred years hence, this 1904 Darracq would be Brighton-Run-eligible.

Once there, “No duty is required by the English Government…. In France and Germany the custom-house duties amount to $12 [around $395 in today’s dollar]…. The duty required in Italy is twenty dollars.”

On Being Plombé. “The custom-house duty being then paid,” Tozier said, “a leaded seal will be attached to a conspicuous part of the machine. The machine is then said to be plombé.” (“leaded.”)

On crossing national (and even some city) borders, one custom official removes the seal and refunds the duty; the other one collects the new duty and applies a new seal. 

Speed Limits. “In Germany and in Italy,” Tozier said, “the automobilist must not drive anywhere at a speed exceeding fifteen miles an hour. In England the speed limit is eight miles in cities, and fifteen miles on country roads.” 

She cited that in France “there is no speed limit in the open country, but twenty kilometers in Paris and twelve kilometers in the provincial cities is the rate of speed which must not be exceeded in an hour.”

“Eight kilometers is about five English miles,” Tozier reminded her readers, whose calculations would have yielded 12.4 mph in Paris, 7.5 mph in provincial towns, and in open country, as ex-pat Angela Victoria would say, “put on full speed.” ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2022

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: