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Jul 31, 2006 04:26 PM

Books on Table Manners, Dining Cultures, Etc [moved from Not About Food board]

A few years ago there were a rash of these. Mostly dry, as I recall. Can anyone recommend an interesting treatment for a curious (and very smart) 13 year old?

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  1. Are you looking for a "guide" to good table manners - or a more indepth/anthropological/sociological approach? For the former, I know that Tiffany's has a guide for teens, and, especially if the 13 year old is a girl, Kate Spade's guide might be fun.

    My favorite (well, only) in the latter category is Margaret Visser's The Rituals of Dinner - can't beat a book on this topic that starts off by talking about cannibalism.

    1 Reply
    1. re: MMRuth

      I also love this book, The Rituals of Dinner. And it's not dry - fascinating reading. I remember finding out interesting new stuff on almost every page!

    2. I have always enjoyed Judith Martin's Miss Manners books and I think it might have Brooks Brothers who published a guide for young men a couple of years ago.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Candy

        OMG I have been obsessed with Miss Manners since I was in junior high. I STRONGLY recommend "Miss Manners' Guide to Excrutiatingly Correct Behavior." It's generally built upon "letters" to Miss Manners, and is laugh-out-loud funny. It does, of course, discuss modern manners (and taught me well).

        However, since Miss Manners fashions herself as a throwback to the Victorian-era, she includes a fair bit of history and esotera, explaining things like the tradition of turning cards (ie folding the corners of calling cards), a proper monogrammed truseau, how a man escorts a lady, etc.

        I loved the book when I was a smart/curious 13yr old myself, and I love it now in my 20s. Get it for your kid!

      2. If you're talking etiquette, you can't go wrong with Emily Post's guide to etiquette.

        1. There is a really interesting book by Margaret Visser about the history of table manners. Can't remember the name now. It is a pretty substantial book-probably about 300 pages, but as I recall, (I read it probably 10 or 12 years ago) it was very engaging. I remember a discussion of the meaning of having a knife at table, and how the rules of civility enable us to use a tool of violence for the social activity of eating.

          1. Sorry, wasn't clear. Visser's book comes closest, though I recall it being dry.

            Want interesting accounts of comparative/shifting traditions and taboos of table manners across cultures and across time.

            Sort of an "oh, cool, they used to do THAT" sort of thing.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Jim Leff

              My inclination would actually be to find an early copy of Emily Post or such and let them read that - if they're interested in modern etiquette, they'll find it pretty fascinating.

              1. re: Jim Leff

                the visser book was Rituals of dinner.