Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Photo courtesy Flickr

Over the years, quite a sheaf of trays have come my way, and I’ve kept them all except for a thrift find that had far too much lead in the brass and far too little skill in the ornament. All the trays in inventory have survived biennial purges simply because they’re thin, round, and classic. I added a dozen cafeteria-style melamine trays from the Great Big Northern European home resource, and that set accelerated daily life. Serving an ordinary meal from the kitchen’s a snap with trays. Portable table service makes it easy to dine anywhere that’s convenient for given weather, company, and broadcast offerings.

In eighteenth century French chateaus there was no dedicated dining area: the staff simply set up a table wherever it was convenient to take a meal. Home practice is so conservative that knowing precedent is liberating. During the Middle Ages in England, the table, aka board and trestle, was mounted for a meal and then taken down so the space could be used for other activities.

The daily trays take the curse off the inherent formality of 1890 architecture. I can set a tray with a bleached white place mat and coarse linen napkins, and present an old-time spooner (tall, footed tumbler) of flatware and a coherent collection of glasses and plates. Regular visitors relax when they can help themselves.

At one time, I could feed fifty people from the thrift shop contents of the china cupboard. When the nest emptied, I kept the classic set of six (plus a few back-up units) that I chose far back in the day. For bashes, I fill in with disposables and use the round trays to serve anything on the menu that is solid.

Trays turn the china cupboard into an accordion. They are even more valuable in small space than in generous quarters.


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