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The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins,…
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The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning… (original 1991; edition 2008)

by Margaret Visser

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765824,547 (4.03)17
With an acute eye and an irrepressible wit, Margaret Visser takes a fascinating look at the way we eat our meals. From the ancient Greeks to modern yuppies, from cannibalism and the taking of the Eucharist to formal dinners and picnics, she thoroughly defines the eating ritual. "Read this book. You'll never look at a table knife the same way again."--The New York Times.… (more)
Member:MariesPantry
Title:The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners
Authors:Margaret Visser
Info:Harpercollins Canada (2008), Paperback, 466 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:food history, food culture

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The Rituals of Dinner: The Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners by Margaret Visser (1991)

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Fairly interesting survey of the many rituals and customs surrounding eating in various cultures.
  ritaer | Oct 9, 2021 |
Comprehensive. If you only have time to read 1 page- make it 335. :) ( )
  OutOfTheBestBooks | Sep 24, 2021 |
Exactly my kind of book. It takes one aspect of our lives and dissects it, comparing current beliefs and practices with other cultures and times. What I learned: culture is weird :)

What I didn't like: sometimes the author repeats herself and the ending was quite abrupt. ( )
  ladyars | Dec 31, 2020 |
The first book that comes to mind on this topic is by Norbert Elias. In this work the author shows how civilization developed rituals around eating. It is in this vein that the book was written about the origins, evolution, eccentricities, and meaning of table manners.

Even cannibalism is not random and arbitrarily vicious; the records that we have of cannibalistic behavior demonstrates that people are eaten according to strict rules. The word cannibalism itself was not used until the time of Columbus. Columbus found two different Native American tribes who were cannibals and in the dialect form of one of the Native American tribes the word used led to the Spanish use of the word cannibalism. Previously, the word for cannibals was the Greek word for man eaters but was now replaced by cannibals in the languages of Europe (p. 5). In addition, Shakespeare created a character in which he made the embodiment of the bestial aspects of humankind and the idea of cannibalism was attached to him. The Aztecs fought wars to provide itself with prisoners who were eaten. Estimates of the numbers of victims put to death and consumed range from 15,000 to 250,000 (p. 8). Large in any case. The Aztecs had never managed to domesticate large animals which they could eat and the only animals left were turkeys and dogs. Neither of these animals were good enough to supply enough meat to sustain the population.

The Eucharist is undoubtedly the most significance charge dinner ritual ever revised (p. 36). As a meal, the Mass spans all the meanings of eating at once--from cannibalism to vegetarianism, from complete fusion of the group to utterly individual satisfaction, from the breaking of the most fearful of taboos to the gentlest and most comforting restoration. All this and more is contained, expressed and controled by ritual: dramatic movement and structure, song, costume, poetry, incense, gesture, and interaction; every one of the five senses is employed in the service of mystical experience (p. 37).

The author displays an impressive range of cultural and linguistic evidence and the book is exhaustive in its explanation of the rituals of dinner.
  gmicksmith | Nov 18, 2016 |
Table manner and rituals are a language that convey our culture and our upbringing. The Rituals of Dinner by Margaret Visser is a reference source for anyone looking to study the topic. If you have a general interest in the topic, you may find yourself skimming the book or looking for a different one. Should you choose to read it, you will never sit down to dinner quite the same way again.

Read my complete review at: http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2015/06/the-rituals-of-dinner.html

Reviewed based on a publisher’s galley received through NetGalley ( )
  njmom3 | Jun 18, 2015 |
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This book is a commentary on the manifold meanings of the rituals of dinner; it is about how we eat, and why we eat as we do.
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With an acute eye and an irrepressible wit, Margaret Visser takes a fascinating look at the way we eat our meals. From the ancient Greeks to modern yuppies, from cannibalism and the taking of the Eucharist to formal dinners and picnics, she thoroughly defines the eating ritual. "Read this book. You'll never look at a table knife the same way again."--The New York Times.

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