If food is also served on place settings? Can a salad bowl also be a soup bowl at times? Point the knife’s edge to the right or left when setting the table? Porcelain expert Tafelstern provides tips for a cultivated table culture.
Anyone who wants to celebrate table culture by all the rules of the art would do well to know these rules. "The perfectly set table not only impresses with beautiful porcelain, glasses and cutlery – you can also show appreciation to your guests with the right arrangement of all the pieces," says Gabrielle Dettelbacher from porcelain manufacturer Tafelstern. Here are the most important tips.
1. The table
A round table shape encourages conversations and exchanges; with square shapes, the head ends give the opportunity to spotlight certain people at the "place of honor". The table should be as accessible as possible from all sides, this makes serving easier later on. To ensure that guests also have sufficient freedom of movement, a place setting width of 60 to 80 centimeters is recommended, measured from the center of the plate to the center of the plate.
2. The table linen
Tablecloths, table runners and place settings that are coordinated with the interior create the basis for setting the table later on. Tablecloths made of half-linen or damask look festive and luxurious, cotton and coarse linen more rustic and casual. It doesn’t always have to be white – but it’s important that the color and texture of the table linen match the china, glassware and cutlery you choose. Rule of thumb for the right size: tablecloth or runner should overhang 25 to 30 centimeters on each side.
3. The place settings
Round, oval or square, traditionally in white or with colored decoration, with smooth surfaces or relief structures – the choices in porcelain are almost unlimited. In contrast to the classic "ready-made" dinner service, there are modern construction kits such as the system from Tafelstern. Here, almost all collections can be combined with each other: "This system creates design freedom instead of setting limits. Subtle basic elements can be complemented with extravagant showpieces or square place settings with round shapes," says Gabrielle Dettelbacher. "Generally speaking, simple shapes offer great combination versatility, unusual plates or bowls accentuate. The combination of different shapes brings delightful tension to the table. Conventional habits have become obsolete – the soup plate has long since become a deep plate on which main dishes can also be presented."
Whatever you decide on: Setting the table begins with the place setting. This is not eaten from – it serves as a "placeholder" for the following courses and stands about an inch from the edge of the table. A place plate has a diameter or width of at least 30 centimeters and should in any case be two centimeters larger than the menu plate that is placed on it. This is followed by plates or bowls for appetizers or soups. Now the cutlery is placed: Set the table from the inside out, eat from the outside in. Knives lie on the right, forks on the left – each parallel to the other. The cutlery for the main course is placed directly next to the plate (cutting edge facing inwards)!), followed by the cutlery for the fish course, soup, and appetizer, or first course, respectively. The dessert fork or spoon is placed above the plate, with the spoon pointing to the right and the fork pointing to the left. Bread or salad plates are placed on the left side of the place setting. If both are used, the salad plate is placed above the cutlery, the bread plate next to it.
The butter knife is placed vertically on the right edge of the bread plate with the edge to the left. Creative variations are allowed: Multifunctional bowls such as the leaf-shaped curved chicory form from Tafelstern’s Essentials collection function as "wild cards" and can be used in a variety of ways as snack and tapas bowls, salad bowls or bread bowls. Glasses are to the right of the place setting; the glass for the main course is called a "directional glass" and is placed about an inch above the dinner knife. The glass for the appetizer course is placed to the right underneath, a water glass to the left above it. This results in a visually slanted line. For the decoration applies: Less is more. Cloth napkins emphasize official occasions, flowers in porcelain bowls replace large vases, place cards add a personal touch.