Dec 21, 2007

Rapid Rhetoric: TABLE D'HÔTE

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Raphael's depiction of Plato defining the difference between true and false rhetoric This is an irregular feature - both in frequency and oddness - dedicated to a word I came across that I have never previously used.

table d'hôte (TAHB-leh-DOH) n. a communal table for the guests at a hotel or restaurant; a full-course meal that offers a limited number of choices at a fixed price in a restaurant or hotel.

The term table d'hôte has a literal translation from French as "table of the host," and the opposite of table d'hôte is à la carte. I have seen the term before, but most recently came across table d'hôte in the novel The Gambler, by nineteenth century Russian writer Fyodor Dostoevsky:
In Paris, anyway in my hotel, they began to treat me much more attentively when I told every one about my passage-at-arms with the abbé. The fat Polish pan, the person most antagonistic to me at table d’hôte, sank into the background.

2 comments:

microdot said...

If you had visited me here in 1999 through 2004, you could have eaten at the Table d'hote we ran in our old house.
We had a Bed and Breakfast and a small gite (holiday cottage) and would take bookings for dinner. Needless to say we had a very full table all through the season.
The Table d'hote is a common establishment here in this region,
Ther is one in the little village called La Grande Coderc which is an experience...The family is still in possesion of a license for distilling. They are part of the tradition of great old alembics on trailers which get hauled around from village to village...
Dinner is always quite traditional Perigourdine...Duck Confit, Saute de Pomme de Terre Sarladais, Gateau aux Noix, very garlicky salads...
But the ambience of the table and the ribald almost bscenely hilarious sense of humor of the host, Serge and his very loose and generous wrist forever filling glasses make for an unforgettable evening....and perhaps a painful morning!

mud_rake said...

Our traveling friends and we had quite the opposite experience in Garmisch-Partinkirchen, Germany a few years back. This alpine town once hosted the winter olympics and is, therefore, quite filled with amenities for the traveler.

We checked into our hotel, a 10 room establishment, and around dinner time, asked the innkeeper to recommend a restaurant for dinner.

The stoic German fellow bristled and announced that, in fact, he offered a Table d'hote and that was it!

He remained quite unfriendly for the next 48 hours of our stay there. We wondered if he has been an SS agent a few decades before.