The perfect dinner party

Reading in an antiquarian catalogue about Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin's (1755-1826, "Tell me what you eat, & I shall tell you what you are") Physiology of Taste, I came across his expert guidance on how to have the perfect dinner party:

  • "That the number of guests does not exceed a dozen, so that the conversation can constantly be general.

  • That they must be carefully chosen, that their professions be different but their taste similar and with such point of contact that one will not have to resort to the odious formality of presentations ...

  • That the men be witty without pretensions and the women charming without being too coquettish.

  • That the choice of dishes should be exquisite but restrained in number and the wines of the first quality, each the best of its kind.

  • That the order, for the former, should be from the most substantial to the lightest, and for the latter from the lightest to those with the greatest bouquet.

  • That the speed of eating should be moderate, dinner being the last affair of the day and that the guests behave like travellers who aim to arrive at the same destination together.

  • That the coffee be scalding hot and the liqueurs specially chosen by the master of the house."

  • Since the copy referred to in the catalogue being a first edition of 1826 may be a bit on the expensive side (£5750), here is a more affordable contemporary edition.

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