Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests

Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307339331
Publisher: Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale
Publication date: 04/24/2007
Pages: 128
Sales rank: 1,211,963
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Why Your Table Matters     8
Tablecloths     16
Napkins     17
The Basic China Place Setting     24
Types of Place China     27
China Serving Pieces     36
The Basic Flatware Place Setting     50
Silver Place Setting Rules     51
Types of Place Silver     52
Silver Serving Pieces     69
The Basic Crystal Place Setting     82
Types of Place Crystal Stemware     84
Barware     88
Finger Bowl     89
Crystal Serving Pieces     90
Table Decor
Decorative Table Items     98
Napkin Folding     101
Afterword: Bon Appetit!     122
Bibliography     123
Acknowledgments     125
Index     127

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Elements of the Table: A Simple Guide for Hosts and Guests 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Saw a piece in the May '07 issue of Glamour about eating bread politely that talked about this book so I picked up a copy. I think it's great. I wish this book had been out when I registerd for wedding gifts! The author tells you about all of the pieces of the table setting (sizes, shapes, the difference between a butter knife and a butter spreader), which side of the plate things go on (place settings are for right-handed people), and more. The author even goes into the history, too, like why champagne is sometimes served in thin flutes and sometimes in circular coupes. Not only is it useful for setting a table, but now I can figure out what's probably going to be served when I go out to dinner at someone's house--and what to do with that knife that fell on the floor. Finally, the book has a napkin folding section in the back sure to be helpful for any meal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
as well as beautiful. A very fine book full of fascinating and useful information.