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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.


              2. If your friend is interested in historical food customs, a really fun book is "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew," by Daniel Pool. It discusses daily life in 19th century England, and is especially useful if you like to read Victorian literature. It covers a lot more than just food, and is not at all dry.

                1. I believe that there was a book about various cultural practices called Eat, Drink, Shake Hands. Available at the library.

                  1. Check out this book:
                    Western Table Manners, A Guide With Visuals to Modern Table Etiquete
                    By Sallymoon Benz