Thursday, June 18, 2009

Table Settings - The Basics

A well-laid table is a thing of beauty. While its joy may not last forever as Keats thought, it will enhance even the simplest of meals. If you're a fan of television cooking shows, you'll know that preparing the food is just the beginning - careful attention is also given to plating the food. Presentation is an integral part of the process. Carrying this a step further brings us to the table setting itself.

During dining etiquette events, the table setting questions I'm asked are almost always about flatware. So, that's where we'll start today. What are the basics? Fork, knife, spoon - in that order, with the plate between the fork and knife. Expand this with the pieces shown below for a more elaborate meal. The place-setting below is sterling silver which most of us do not consider for everyday meals. However, if you are lucky enough to own sterling try to use it often. It acquires a beautiful patina with use and it only takes a few extra moments to hand wash. If you would like to start a collection of sterling, check out eBay. You'll find twenty or thirty thousand items for sale each week and the number of patterns is staggering - from sleek modern to ornate Victorian to classics like the Kings pattern which is made by many different silver companies. Somewhere out there is the perfect silver pattern for you . . . find it and enjoy!

5-piece placesetting in Reed & Barton's Marlborough pattern.
Top to bottom: Butter Spreader, Salad / Pastry Fork, Teaspoon,
Dinner Fork, Dinner Knife.

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