Thursday, July 27, 2017

Etiquette Duties of Dinner Hosts

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."  Brillat-Savarin ...  "To invite a friend to dinner," says Brillat -Savarin, "is to become responsible for his happiness so long as he is under your roof." 


In summing up the little duties and laws of the table, a popular author has said that — "The chief matter of consideration at the dinner-table — as, indeed, everywhere else in the life of a gentleman — is to be perfectly composed and at his ease. He speaks deliberately; he performs the most important act of the day as if he were performing the most ordinary. Yet there is no appearance of trifling or want of gravity in his manner; he maintains the dignity which is so becoming on so vital an occasion. He performs all the ceremonies, yet in the style of one who performs no ceremonies at all. He goes through all the complicated duties of the scene as if he were 'to the manner born.'" To the giver of a dinner we have but one or two remarks to offer. If he be a bachelor, he had better give his dinner at a good hotel, or have it sent in from Birch's or Kühn's. If a married man, he will, we presume, enter into council with his wife and his cook. In any case, however, he should always bear in mind that it is his duty to entertain his friends in the best manner that his means permit; and that this is the least he can do to recompense them for the expenditure of time and money which they incur in accepting his invitation.

"To invite a friend to dinner," says Brillat Savarin, "is to become responsible for his happiness so long as he is under your roof." Again:--"He who receives friends at his table, without having bestowed his personal supervision upon the repast placed before them, is unworthy to have friends." A dinner, to be excellent, need not consist of a great variety of dishes; but everything should be of the best, and the cookery should be perfect. That which should be cool should be cool as ice; that which should be hot should be smoking; the attendance should be rapid and noiseless; the guests well assorted; the wines of the best quality; the host attentive and courteous; the room well lighted; and the time punctual. —
From "Routledge's Manual of Etiquette"
by George Routledge and Sons, c. 1860s



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