In this extract the author discusses menu design, 'an art', he writes, 'which belongs only to those gifted with gastranomic discernment.'
About The Whole Art of Dining
The Whole Art of Dining, by Jean Rey, was published in 1921. The book opens on to a world of glittering dining halls and lavish picnics. It aims to impart to the reader the intricate details of the dining habits and traditions of the decadent classes. As the author states in the preface, such knowledge is essential for 'every host and hostess who aspires to distinction.'
Rey likens the successful dining table to a work of art, and emphasises the link between social status and dining etiquette: 'to achieve a reputation in the giving of recherché dinner parties now-a-days is to become in a sense an international celebrity.' He instructs the reader on a vast array of essential subjects: the most indispensable objects on the sideboard, ornaments or statuettes for table decoration, the best way to prepare different types of coffee, a waiter's white gloves, ancient and modern banquets, wedding luncheons and ball suppers. Most of the book consists of bills of fare listing elaborate cuisine for formal entertainment.
The book was written in an age of mass production, in which a growing sector of society was being encouraged to enter into a life of materialism and consumerism.