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The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and the Meaning of Table Manners Paperback – 30 Jul 1992

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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  • The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities and the Meaning of Table Manners
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  • Much Depends on Dinner: The Extraordinary History and Mythology, Allure and Obsessions, Perils and Taboos of an Ordinary Meal
Total price: £25.99
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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd; New edition edition (30 July 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140170790
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140170795
  • Product Dimensions: 13.7 x 2.8 x 20.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 347,597 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

MARGARET VISSER is an award-winning author and essayist. Her previous five books, all bestsellers, have met with international acclaim. Much Depends on Dinner won the Glenfiddich Prize for Food Book of the Year and was named one of the best books of the year by Publishers Weekly and The New York Times. The Rituals of Dinner won the IACP Literary Food Writing Award and the Jane Grigson Award, and was named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her most recent book, The Geometry of Love, also the subject of a prize-winning documentary film, was a finalist for the Charles Taylor Prize. A professor of classics at York University for 18 years, she now devotes her time to research and writing. Visser lives in Toronto, Paris and the south of France.


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is not 'what fork to use' but why we think using the correct fork is important, how the fork originated, forks around the world and when there are no forks. It's a big book full of facts but the writing is light, elegant and often poetic. I can't praise this enough. It is especially valuable to writers as a reference book about eating habits, a source of fascinating and inspiring tales and an example of excellant prose.
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Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating book. Everyone who reads a bit of it wants to own it. You can learn lots of trivia and impress your friends as well as develop a whole new outlook on food, eating, dinner parties, etc.
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Format: Paperback
Margaret Visser writes on this quotidian activity with astonishing erudition. Her survey of our eating habits is global, spanning numerous societies, and she draws from all periods of our historical development. (There are roughly a thousand entries in her bibliography.) She reminds me of Simone de Beauvoir, whose also has a humbling erudition, and who used it to address the subject of woman's role in society, as well as aging. Visser draws the reader in with the antithesis of the Emily Post approach; she details the cannibalistic practices of the Aztecs, as they were first revealed (and experienced) by Spanish explorers / conquistadors.

The author devotes the first couple of chapters to our acculturation, drawing lessons from how monkeys learn to wash potatoes. She points out that children are "brought up," a passive construction, and taught the norms of social behavior. For some small segments of society, it is a never ending process; there "manners" are what set them apart from others, and re-enforce their power; others continue to try to break into society (p 69). Power relations surrounding food are just one of the recurring themes in this book. Consider: "In the modern world, where openly stratified hierarchy is an affront to the egalitarian myth, people are rarely permitted to display naked social ambition; snobbery must go decently disguised as creativity, free choice, good taste, and so forth. (p. 100). In the postscript she ruminates on the concept of "no time" in society today, and says: "Powerful people love impressing upon those needing their services that they have trouble finding time `to fit them in': making others wait because one's own time is more precious than theirs is one of the great hallmarks of desirability and success (p. 353).
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