The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners

Margaret Visse, Author, Margaret Visser, Author Grove/Atlantic $22.95 (432p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1116-6
Many dining practices--when to start eating, whether to talk or be silent, seating arrangements, the sequence of dishes--vary enormously from one culture to another. Visser elucidates the differences in a continuously involving and surprising banquet of a book, a worthy successor to her Much Depends on Dinner. Table manners, she notes, impose order and regularity on a situation in which people sit in close proximity, armed (with eating utensils) and vulnerable. This observation leads to a discussion of cannibalism, sacrifices, feasts and teaching children etiquette. Visser then takes us through a meal, with sections on toasting, dinner parties, leftovers, bodily control and much else. A smorgasbord of cross-cultural insights, delectably served, this marvelous book instills a keen awareness of the complex social ritual of eating in the company of others. (July)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1991
Release date: 04/01/1991
Genre: Nonfiction
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