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The Art of the Table

W.J. Rayment / -- Why is it when we think of manners and propriety that we think of the old nobility of Europe? American ideas of grace seem to have melded with our notions of good breeding. Suzanne von Drachenfels is the very epitome of style, class and charm and though she lives in the United States, she does, indeed, have claim to a noble title. She has put her knowledge of manners, dining and good taste into a considerable volume called "The Art of the Table".

Everything that you might ever wish to know about dining, informal or formal, is included in these pages. Ms. von Drachenfels makes what many might consider a stodgy subject into an adventure that inspires aspirations to elevate ones own dining habits. For many people the pressures of business and the work-a-day world have sucked much of the pleasure out of eating and the social comradery that revolves around it. These people are missing a vital part of life; it somehow makes the world a better place when we take time to enjoy food. Yet, to make this necessity of our lives into a truly memorable occasion requires a certain amount of knowledge and even guidance. "The Art of the Table" guides the reader through the history, customs, morays, utensils, cups, plates, serving vessels, seating protocol, toasts, menus and every other detail that might come to mind when putting together a dinner party. This in-depth information is handled in a way that is not only informative but entertaining.

Certainly this is a reference book to be sourced time and again. Yet it reads far more fluidly, far more conversationally, than most reference books. Ms. von Drachenfels has a light touch with words that elevates this work far above the average recitation of dining facts. The reader is led through each subject by a deft hand that explains the where-fors and whys of dining actions and objects. She makes the study of dining so much fun that the eye is often pulled into reading far more than the original item referenced.

This is a book that should be on every cookbook shelf, but more, in every library and, yes, on the history book shelf, too. Every host or hostess who wants to impress his or her guests will want to get hold of this volume. If you enjoy thumbing through gourmet or cooking magazines, you will thoroughly enjoy "The Art of the Table"!

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