Elegance is the art of not astonishing, said Jean Cocteau, but often the idea of a formal dinner party is intimidating to both hosts and guests for one reason: the table setting. Why is there a spoon above my plate? Do I really need five different glasses? Where do I put my napkin when I leave the table? Lynn Rosen comes to the rescue with this practical, charming, and informative guide to all things tabletop. Organized by category, Lynn’s advice is sensible, her explanations are clear, and her historical asides will provide plenty of lively dinner conversation. You’ll learn about:
Napery. What to do about that crease in your tablecloth, how to use a table runner, and the history of napkin rings (hint: they came into use not for decoration, but for an exceedingly practical purpose!)
China. The difference between a rim soup bowl and a rimless coupe soup bowl, when to bring out the coffee cups, and why we call it “china”
Silver. Basic rules for arranging the setting (evenly spaced, about a half-inch apart, with the handle bottoms lined up), using flatware to signal you’ve finished eating, and why the fork was slow to catch on as a dining implement
Crystal. How to tell a red wine glass from a white wine glass, when to use a dof glass, and what famous European queen is said to have been the model for a champagne coupe glass
Table Décor. Why place cards are always a good idea (and where to put them), the evolution of centerpieces, and how to turn a napkin into a cardinal’s hat, a bishop’s mitre, or even an artichoke
Elements of the Table covers everything from linens to basic etiquette, so your next dinner party (whether you’re hosting or attending) will be a relaxed celebration–and the only astonishment will come at the end of the night, when you realize how much fun you’ve had.
Lynn Rosen is the author of several books, including The Dinner Party. Formerly
a book publishing executive, she lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two sons.
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