Because Style Matters
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I´d like to start by saying those of us living in this particular time are extremely fortunate. We´re no longer tied to rules set in stone, and are all free to express ourselves without the constraints of any specific tradition. People from different countries, social and racial backgrounds now mix comfortably showing each other their particular experience of the world.
I believe the new model for social interaction can be simplified into three words: kindness, generosity and effort.
Q. Why should we not chew with our mouths open?
A. Because I still haven´t met the person who enjoys seeing masticated food in the mouth of another.
That´s a particularly unpleasant example to mentalize, but the concept extends to all areas of our lives.
If you can look back on any situation (and better yet, look ahead to plan for it!) and ask yourself if you were kind, generous and made an effort, you can be proud in the knowledge you´ve done your part in making the world run more smoothly.
In the spirit of a globalized world, the great thing is we can now adapt different customs to our own lifestyles. My French grandmother, for example, always made sure wine glasses were aligned with the large knife. That´s because drinking wine in France is what drinking water is to Americans. On the other hand, in France many times one keeps and re-uses one´s cutlery from one course to another (aided by knife rests), I tend to prefer the more Anglo custom of having flatware set for each individual course.
The way you set your table will depend on a variety of things, not least of all, the materials you have at hand and the sort of event you´re planning. So let´s start with some basics.
Again we´re down to personal taste. I tend to prefer long white, restaurant style tablecloths. Especially if you have a glass or marble topped table. Seeing peoples feet while you eat and touching cold surfaces doesn´t stack the odds in favor of a good time. If you have a wooden table, that opens up many possibilities. Personally, I´d invariably reccommend the purchase of a good, large, round or square wood table. Although rectangular tables are convenient for the amount of people they can accomodate, the square and round models provide for more integrated conversation, where all in attendance can see and hopefully hear each other.
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