Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Simple Table

At one point I decided that white linens and candles would eliminate two of the maddening number of variables involved in presenting a meal at home. Thirty years later, I'm still glad for having made that choice. The secret of white linen is that it's the easiest to wash and most durable of all table coverings. The secret of white candles is that they don't stain white linen, and that they resemble beeswax, the very best.

The minor formality of white accessories can enlivened with flowers and trivial goofy artifacts. In fact, during the Middle Ages, little ornamental figures made from almond paste were meant to be eaten at the end of the meal. It would be fun to set kids loose with marzipan and food coloring to keep them busy before Santa shows up.

I've had a continuing and edifying conversation with younger friends who are setting up their first household. Space is tight. When I recently offered them a coffee set, it was carefully declined with an added comment that anything that goes into the house at this point must be matched by something that exits. Interestingly, the design of the glass carafe that came with their automatic coffee maker echoes that of the high-end Italian designer whose stainless steel was chosen to furnish the Concorde. His work, in turn, echoes that of a radical turn of the twentieth century silver service produced in Vienna. The short version of the critique is that a vessel that is wider at the base than the lip holds heat.

The focus on using one set of gear every day is a sensible one that saves resources. In my world, attention is the asset in shortest supply. My friends are influenced by the popular domestic culture of 1950s southern California, that swept the West Coast all the way up to Seattle. It would be kind and good to revive the old custom of setting up a "hope chest" for young adults. Back in the day, a girl was encouraged to consider her choice of dishes and flatware. By the time she married, she would have fabricated by hand a full collection of bedding and table linens. Young people hone different skills nowadays, but actively considering essential home furnishings is always a good use of time. At the very least, basic cookware (field gear will be a good start) allows one to get the most from easily-stored basic ingredients rather than squandering money and health on junk food -30-

No comments:

Post a Comment