In the heart of historic Charleston rests the The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits. This is the place to go to learn how to live graciously. The “deans” of the school are experts in food, entertaining, and being a good guest.
Since classes have a waiting list, the deans have published a lifestyle guide, The Charleston Academy of Domestic Pursuits: A Handbook of Etiquette with Recipes. Authors Suzanne Pollak and Lee Manigault have lived in the Holy City for years and are forthright in their opinions on etiquette and food.
The recipes alone are worth the reading: everything from biscuits to Oysters Rockefeller, to how to fry a turkey, to how to make the perfect Champagne Cocktail. They advocate cooking and dining at home as opposed to Chinese takeout. The authors maintain that it is cheaper and creates a better sense of home. They are outraged at the idea of technology interfering with dining. They also advocate for involving children in the creation of meals.
Much of the book focuses on entertaining. The authors advocate seating dinner guests close together to inspire conversation and intimacy. They outline specific suggestions for seating arrangements. There are tips for holiday entertaining as well as business meals. Their observation is that breakfast is the best time for business meetings as decision makers are more amenable in the morning.
I was happy to see their love for the use of the good silver and china rather than letting it simply sit for display. They offer tips to the young on how to “butter up grandmother so as to inherit the silver.” My observation is that Millennials don’t seem to care about the china and the silver. Wonder what my girls will do with mine?