The plover to which Edith Wharton refers in her satire on the New York wealthy is not a little cake with a hole in the middle. Rather, a jellied plover is wild game cooked and prepared to set up in a gel. The Gus of Edith's novel is chowing down on a gelatin-based bird in the following passage:
In The House of Mirth, this guy named Gus Trenor is eating a jellied plover." Is that some kind of doughnut?"
She looked down the long table, studying its occupants one by one, from Gus Trenor, with his heavy carnivorous head sunk between his shoulders, as he preyed on a jellied plover . . .
Plovers make appearances in other literary works, too, such as James Joyce's Ulysses:
I met him the day before yesterday and he coming out of that Irish farm dairy John Wyse Nolan's wife has in Henry street with a jar of cream in his hand taking it home to his better half. She's well nourished, I tell you. Plovers on toast.
And occasionally, the long-legged wading birds manage to stay alive as they're served up in prose, as with Charlotte Brontës Jane Eyre:
If a gust of wind swept the waste, I looked up, fearing it was the rush of a bull; if a plover whistled, I imagined it a man.