The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware

Suzanne von Drachenfels

Simon & Schuster,  November 2000

Coming together to share a meal is one of our most vital traditions. Whether dining with friends, family, or business associates, we know that an elegant setting and gracious manners bring a sense of harmony and order to the occasion. Yet when it comes to knowing precisely how to set a table for formal and informal dining, which fork is for dessert and which for appetizer, how to serve different types of wine -- even how to eat certain foods -- many of us are not fully confident.

Suzanne von Drachenfels learned this firsthand in her career as an expert on table setting, tableware, and etiquette. Conducting seminars throughout the country, she would hear the same questions again and again: Should bread be buttered entirely or bite by bite? What is the purpose of holding a wine glass by the stem or the base? Is handmade crystal worth the price difference?

The Art of the Table answers all these questions and more. A treasure trove of timeless information, this complete guide is to the table what Joy of Cooking is to the kitchen. Von Drachenfels shows us how to select, lay, and use tableware to enhance any dining experience, and how to properly store and care for it -- whether it's your grandmother's porcelain or everyday stainless steel. She provides guidance on mixing and matching tableware patterns; the basics of coffee, tea, and wine; menu planning; napkin folding; and the proper service techniques for all types of entertainment. So as not to let the lore of the table fall away, she delves deep into the history of specific tableware and the customs we keep, making today's practices understandable.

For the novice host, this is an easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide with more than one hundred helpful illustrations. For the host with more experience, it is a rich and exciting source of new ideas. Like its author, whose passion for the table is contagious, The Art of the Table is an authoritative, elegant, and sophisticated resource for all one's dining needs.

hardcover | ISBN: 9780684847320 | Publication Date: November 2000

"The Art of the Table is a must have -- fun to read and chock full of information -- that will help America raise its hosting and guesting manners by several degrees. As young people begin to renounce their plastic flatware . . . this book will be invaluable. And for anyone setting a table, it's an ABC primer!"
--Letitia Baldridge, former White House social secretary

"The arts of cooking and wine making have made tremendous headway in the last few years. It is time for someone to teach us how to properly and elegantly serve and enjoy the fruits of this progress. The Art of the Table is that guide."
--Jacques Pépin, PBS-TV cooking show host, cookbook author, and cooking teacher

"Suzanne von Drachenfels's charming book, The Art of the Table, combines the history of what we eat with how we eat in a way that will appeal to those who entertain, those who are interested in the history of civilization, and those who simply want to know what the rules are."
--Nancy Dunnan, coauthor of The Amy Vanderbilt Complete Book of Etiquette

"The Art of the Table is filled with information that people have forgotten or just don't know. It's a great reference for dining and entertaining."
--Jean-Georges Vongerichten, chef and cookbook author

"From acing the basics of setting a beautiful table to perfecting the fine points of entertaining, The Art of the Table will inspire confidence and creativity in every newlywed who quivers at the thought of entertaining the in-laws."
--Millie Martini Bratten, editor in chief of Bride's magazine

"Fascinating . . . historical . . . practical . . . a worthwhile guide for the new and seasoned host."
--Judith Ré, author of Social Savvy and etiquette expert

"The Art of the Table covers everything you ever wanted to know or need to know about tableware . . . This book is a real treasure."
--Dorothea Johnson, director of the Protocol School of Washington

"The Art of the Table [is] a staple for every household. Read it once, refer to it often -- you'll never question your dining savvy again."
--Diane Forden, editor in chief of Bridal Guide

"When your boss is coming to dinner and you can't tell your dessert spoon from your demitasse spoon and you're wondering if you actually have a five o'clock spoon, turn to The Art of the Table for all the answers on the finer points of dining and tableware."
--Nathalie Dupree, television host and author of Nathalie Dupree's Comfortable Entertaining

"A great experience awaits in reading The Art of the Table. I highly recommend it."
--Bert P. Cutino, cofounder of the Sardine Factory Restaurant and Monterey chapter president of the Confrèrie de la Châine des Rôtisseurs, the world's oldest gastronomic association.