Whether it’s genuine curiosity or a method for battling boredom, the patter of grocery-store checkout clerks delights some customers while irritating others.

Is the formal dinner party a thing of the past?

Is the formal dinner party a thing of the past?

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Same thing goes for the chummy waitstaff spiel at chic contemporary restaurants. Comedians have poked fun at food-service banter, and in episode 14 of “The Four Top,” our panelists deconstruct it.

Our second course is an analysis of the formal dinner party. Should we pack up the old family china and silver for good, or is there hope that society will one day revive this dying ritual? Finally, we discuss the disconnect between the average home cook and the highly skilled culinary media.

Panelist Megan Scott is the editor for “The Joy of Cooking.” Laura Russell is a food writer and recipe developer for Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street. And Heather Arndt Anderson is a culinary historian, botanist and food writer. Our host is Katherine Cole.

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