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The sequence in which food has been served at meals has changed greatly over the centuries and has also varied from one country to another, a fact noted in virtually every culinary history. Most food writers have treated the more significant alterations as stand-alone events. The most famous example of such a change occurred in the nineteenth century, when service a la francaise--in which the stunning presentation made a great show but diners had to wait to be served--gave way to service a la russe, in which platters were passed among diners who served themselves. But in Arranging the Meal, the late culinary historian Jean-Louis Flandrin argues that such a change in the order of food service is far from a distinct event. Instead he regards it as a historical phenomenon, one that happened in response to socioeconomic and cultural factors--another mutation in an ever-changing sequence of customs. As France's most illustrious culinary historian, Flandrin has become a cult figure in France, and this posthumous book is not only his final word but also a significant contribution to culinary scholarship. A foreword by Beatrice Fink places Flandrin's work in context and offers a personal remembrance of this French culinary hero.
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