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June 14, 2005


Will Baude

I think you missed the other half of the post too-- that you can get good food for hordes of people but only if you avoid the sitting down to the meal part. Oysters, bread, accessories and alcohol are perfect.

Jeremy Osner

We beat the having-to-spend-lots problem by the happy circumstance, that I had recently finished cooking school and was working at a bakery (Amy's Bread). So, we hired a teacher of mine to cater (her name is Louise Hoffman and she lives in Brooklyn, I recommend her strongly if you have a party to give around there) -- she gave us a special price for being her student; and Amy donated baked goods. (But Louise made the cake.)

Very much agreed about not having a sit-down dinner -- parties are much more fun when people are standing or sitting as they choose, and free to move around.

Joe O

From the article

>"They don't want to learn," she said. "I had a monogrammed tray and when I proposed it to a customer, she said, 'Why would I want other people's monograms?' These women have never inherited anything."

Seriously, Why would you want other people's monograms?

Jeremy Osner

It's probably not quite the same; and what-do-I-know-anyways, I don't have or desire anybody's monogram on my dishes; but: I have some old planes in my toolbox which are stamped with a previous owner's name, and I enjoy using these planes and the sort of connected-to-tradition or heritage feeling it gives me. And that was what I thought of when I read the passage you quote. But again, probably not quite the same situation; and these planes are, besides old, of exceptionally high quality.


Seriously, Why would you want other people's monograms?

Seriously, if you come from the sort of family where you inherit silver, lots of it will have come from your maternal relatives, and so won't have your name on it. Silver monogrammed with other people's initials is an indication that you have old money, and didn't have to buy all your nice stuff for yourself.

So, buying silver with other people's monograms is phony, on the order of buying undistinguished 18th century portraits and hanging them around your house claiming that they're your ancestors, but there is a reason to do it.

ben wolfson, newly poor

Of course if you inherit something then there is, presumably, some sort of familial connection such that the object inherited will be valuable to you (and not just valuable to sell), so the fact that it's got a monogram that isn't yours wouldn't bother you.

Eagerness to buy other peoples' monogrammed silver is a surer sign of grasping parvenu-dom than is blithely misunderstanding why a person might want to capitalize on the secondary signification of owning such silver, and if the old guard has become so depraved that it doesn't understand that (not that the antiques dealer who said that is probably such a one), they deserve the company they're getting.

Joe O

Ok, that makes sense. The antique dealer is offended that the client doesn't even want to fake it, or even to recognize what is to be faked.


Maybe it's selection effect? Bad food at weddings, not monograms. I've always had reasonably good and sometimes amazing food at weddings. Might just be different priorities among my peer group.

Joe O

I always thought the bad food thing had to do with preparing a large number of dishes which are passed out at the same time. We had an office party at Boulevard in San Francisco, which is a very good restaurant, but the food was kind of blah.

It may be a scale issue. I have had good food at weddings, but not at big weddings.

Jacob T. Levy

I was totally sympathizing with the blue-blooded Nantucketers in this article, and I'm not sure that was the point

I'm not sure it wasn't. The thing about old money-new money conflicts is that the parvenus always, necessarily, look at least a little ridiculous and tacky-- either they're imitating the old-timers without really getting it right, or they're ostentatiously displaying wealth in ways that people whose very names connote wealth don't feel the need to do and therefore look down on, or they're unsettling the aesthetically and culturally quite civilized world that the old-timers have put together.

At the macro level, new money means progress, innovation, growth, creative destruction, social mobility. But at the micro cultural and aesthetic level yoou don't see any of that stuff-- so a slice-of-life micro-study will tend to over-weight on the side of sympathy for the blue-bloods.


I thought that Belle's point was that one shouldn't particularly sympathize either with the representatives of old or of new money, given that any annoyance the 'old money' types are suffering is fairly minor compared to the problems of the far larger 'no money' class.

belle waring

also, I don't think that buysing monogrammed antique silver is necessarily the mark of parvenus; it's just a simple fact that much of the most valuable antique silver is monogrammed, and if you rule pieces out on that basis you're going to deny yourself the chance to buy many many beautiful things.

ben wolfson

I just like saying "parvenu".


I don't think that buysing monogrammed antique silver is necessarily the mark of parvenus

True -- I should have said that buying it partially for the monograms, rather than despite the monograms, is phony.


Wow, I had no idea that monogrammed silver even existed. It took me a while to even understand what you people were talking about. All these class things are getting side swiped by culture. Gold earrings anyone?

I think small helps for sit down menus. The best wedding food I ever had was at a tiny tiny wedding at the Brazilian room in Tilden Park in Berkeley, with a couple of fantastic cooks, and a groom who eats a LOT (he's one of those skinny boys who can eat and eat and eat), so they were very picky about the food. They also had a lot of vegetarian friends, and are very good about feeding us in general, so they were very picky that both menus should be totally complete. It was an all you can eat buffet, and we ate a lot. I remember being surprised they had mashed potatoes--didn't seem particularly fancy--and then realizing these were the best damn mashed potatoes I had ever had and probably would ever have. Garlicky and sticky and sooo good. Oh, so good.

The food was in fact, so good, that it eased the wrath of the groom who was in a red hot fury because the pastor never showed up and his own step-mother had to perform the ceremony.


There were only 10 people invited to my wedding, so we all went to Fleur de Lys afterwards. That was pretty good.

I was totally non-bridezilla, too. The photographer was stunned, and so was my makeup artist. I found my dress on sale for $25 at an Ann Taylor outlet (it was fn gorgeous). I made all the arrangements so everything was how I wanted it - thus the ten people. My only bridezilla moment was when the cake turned out to be orange. But I totally didn't complain when the waiter poured pea soup down my husband's back, so it all evens out.

So my advice is - elope if you can. If not, limit your wedding to 5-10 people, and go out for dinner afterwards.


We had really good food at a friend's wedding last year - so it is possible to get caterers to do a good sit-down meal for a couple of hundred people.

I bet it's expensive, though. But if the guests all buy wedding presents from the list of suggestions (which are typically house furnishings that the newly-weds would otherwise have to buy anyway), then you can offset this against the cost of the wedding reception.


Belle -- What are the chances that one of your old high school English teachers would be trying to get in touch with you, having accidentally found your blog while googling "existatai gar pant' ap' allelon dicha"? About one in a gazillion?

Marsha Fleenor

I am searching for a lawsuit where the bride sues the caterer for breach of contract for food at the reception. Help. We have one which is the Siegels Vs. Ridgewells but I need another case for a school project. Help

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