A GUIDE TO LAY­ING THE TA­BLE

The Simple Things - - NEST -

PROB­A­BLY ES­SEN­TIAL

For­tu­nately, the trend for un­fussy ta­ble set­tings re­quires just a few well-cho­sen items. You will al­ways need plates: De­brett’s says the di­am­e­ter of a din­ner plate should be 10in (25cm) and side plates, 6in (15cm) but we’re not go­ing to judge. Best avoid square plates, un­less you’re a con­tes­tant on Masterchef. Cork or slate tablemats sit nicely on a wooden ta­ble, as do li­nen nap­kins. Un­less you only eat sand­wiches, you’ll al­ways need cut­lery, so in­vest in some good qual­ity ones, and steer clear of fash­ion­able op­tions like gold, cop­per or black if you want long-term sat­is­fac­tion.

OP­TIONAL BUT TEMPT­ING

A tureen with a la­dle is a the­atri­cal way to dish up soup, while a de­canter adds swank (and dis­guises cheap wine). Side plates aren’t es­sen­tial but are a handy place to lay a chunk of bread. The trend for ‘charg­ers’ be­neath din­ner plates, how­ever, is one piece of crock­ery too far, in our opin­ion.

NO LONGER RE­QUIRED

Table­cloths, once laid at ev­ery meal, now only come out on spe­cial oc­ca­sions – it is eas­ier to wipe a ta­ble with a damp cloth than to laun­der a piece of ma­te­rial, af­ter all. (Run­ners are not to be sniffed at when en­ter­tain­ing, though.) Cruet sets have been aban­doned in favour of grinders and pinch pots. And whither the fish knife, that puz­zlingly shaped uten­sil, now only seen in char­ity shops?

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