Preceding this annotated translation of the chapter “Dinner in the Current Age” from Eugène Briffault's 1846 work Paris à table is a brief introduction summarizing the author's professional career, contextualizing the text into the literature of the time, and suggesting his objective for the chapter and the book. The translated chapter begins with a look back at previous decades up to the author's time to examine the evolution of dinner at the higher levels of society and among the professions, including the various factors affecting it, such as uncertain financial conditions and tourism. The author follows with a look at dinners held in the world of theater, mentioning the kinds of meals prepared by celebrated artists, like Rachel and Talma, of his and previous times. Descending the social ladder, he then focuses his attention on the “bourgeois” dinner and the role of women cooks in its preparation, both of which meet with his approval. On the other hand, the “parvenu's” dinner meets with his extreme disapproval, and from there he gladly turns to dinner among shopkeepers and merchants, workers and laborers, finishing with several anecdotes that present models for hosts and guests as well as stories describing some of the follies that can occur at the dinner table. Illustrating the article are portraits of the author, Briffault, and several of the Bertall engravings that illustrated the original text.
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