One of the biggest laughs I ever got was on a cruise as we gathered at the table for the last night’s dinner. There were 12 of us at each large table and the meal was going to be a splendid affair with multiple courses. The crisp linen tablecloth and napkins provided a beautiful backdrop for the crystal and china. And the flatware. Oh, my, the flatware. Each place setting featured ten pieces. TEN! I couldn’t resist. As the charming, formally dressed waiter came by to see if all was well, I called him over to my side and said, with an absolutely straight face, “Excuse me, but I don’t have enough silverware.” It took him a moment or two to realize I was joking, but the entire table full of people roared with laughter.
If you’ve ever felt intimidated by either participating in, or hosting, a formally set meal, you will want to blow a kiss to the folks at Liberty Tabletop for their brilliant infographic on formal dining etiquette. It deciphers the code of a well set table, illustrating what goes where, what is used for what (Is that a fish knife I’m seeing, or a salad knife?) and how to communicate by flatware placement whether you are finished or merely resting. It tackles how to hold flatware, eat soup, and pass the salt and pepper, helping you to feel more confident and worldly next time you sit down to a formal meal or next time you throw a dinner party yourself.
Sherrill Manufacturing, which produces the Liberty Tabletop brand (and the infographic above), is a family-owned business that is now the only manufacturer of flatware in the United States. I first experienced the quality of the Liberty Tabletop products when renting a furnished condo in Seattle for a week from a world-reknowned author who had impeccable taste in furnishings and dining supplies. The first time we prepared a meal and set the table, we literally felt the difference. I’m adding the Weave pattern, which we used at the condo, to my own collection!