Table setting

Table setting

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Table setting or place setting refers to the way to set a table with tableware
Tableware
Tableware is the dishes or dishware , dinnerware , or china used for setting a table, serving food, and for dining. Tableware can be meant to include flatware and glassware...

—such as eating utensils and dishes for serving and eating. The arrangement for a single diner is called a place setting. The practice of dictating the precise arrangement of tableware has varied across cultures and historical periods.

Place setting


Informal settings generally have fewer utensils and dishes but use a layout based on more formal settings. Utensils are arranged in the order and according to the manner in which the diner will use them. In the West
West
West is a noun, adjective, or adverb indicating direction or geography.West is one of the four cardinal directions or compass points. It is the opposite of east and is perpendicular to north and south.By convention, the left side of a map is west....

, fork
Fork
As a piece of cutlery or kitchenware, a fork is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines on one end. The fork, as an eating utensil, has been a feature primarily of the West, whereas in East Asia chopsticks have been more prevalent...

s, bread plate, butter knife, and napkin
Napkin
A napkin, or face towel is a rectangle of cloth used at the table for wiping the mouth while eating. It is usually small and folded...

 generally are placed to the left of the dinner plate, and knives
Knife
A knife is a cutting tool with an exposed cutting edge or blade, hand-held or otherwise, with or without a handle. Knives were used at least two-and-a-half million years ago, as evidenced by the Oldowan tools...

, spoon
Spoon
A spoon is a utensil consisting of a small shallow bowl, oval or round, at the end of a handle. A type of cutlery , especially as part of a place setting, it is used primarily for serving. Spoons are also used in food preparation to measure, mix, stir and toss ingredients...

s, stemware and tumblers, cups
Teacup
A teacup is a small cup, with or without a handle, generally a small one that may be grasped with the thumb and one or two fingers. It is typically made of a ceramic material. It is usually part of a set, composed of a cup and a matching saucer. These in turn may be part of a tea set in...

, and saucer
Saucer
A saucer is a small type of dishware, a plate that is specifically used with and for supporting a cup – a cylindrical cup intended for coffee or a half-sphere teacup for tea. Additionally, the saucer is a distant cousin to the plate. The saucer has a raised centre with a depression sized to fit a...

s to the right. (By contrast, formal settings in Greece, Armenia, and Turkey place the fork to the right of the dinner plate.) Sauceboats
Sauce boat
A sauce boat, gravy boat or saucière is a boat-shaped pitcher in which sauce or gravy is served. It often sits on a matching plate, sometimes attached to the pitcher, to catch dripping sauce....

 and serving dishes, when used, either are placed on the table or, more formally, may be kept on a side table.

Formal


Utensils are placed about an inch from the edge of the table, with all placed either upon the same invisible baseline or upon the same invisible median line. Utensils in the outermost position are used first (for example, a soup spoon and a salad fork, then the dinner fork and the dinner knife). The blades of the knives are turned toward the plate. Glasses are placed an inch or so above the knives, also in the order of use: white wine, red wine, dessert wine, and water tumbler.

Formal dinner


The most formal dinner is served from the kitchen. When the meal is served, in addition to the central plate (a service plate or dinner plate at supper; at luncheon, a service place or luncheon plate) at each place there are a bread roll (generally on a bread plate, sometimes in the napkin), napkin, and flatware (knives and spoons to the right of the central plate, and forks to the left). Coffee is served in Butler Service style in demitasse
Demitasse
A demitasse is a small cup used to serve Arabic coffee or espresso. In some languages it is called fincan, fildžan, filxhan or φλιτζάνι . In Spanish, it is called a pocillo....

s, and a spoon placed on the saucer to the right of each handle. Serving dishes and utensils are not placed on the table for a formal dinner. The only exception in the West to these general rules is the protocol followed at the Spanish royal court, which was also adopted by the Austrian Habsburg
Habsburg
The House of Habsburg , also found as Hapsburg, and also known as House of Austria is one of the most important royal houses of Europe and is best known for being an origin of all of the formally elected Holy Roman Emperors between 1438 and 1740, as well as rulers of the Austrian Empire and...

 court, in which all flatware was placed to the right of the central plate for each diner.

At a less formal dinner, not served from the kitchen, the dessert fork and spoon can be set above the plate, fork pointing right, spoon pointing left.

In Europe, if many courses are to be served, the table is only laid for soup, fish, and meat. The pudding spoon and fork and the savoury knife and fork are then placed on the table when and as required.

Informal


At an informal setting, fewer utensils are used and serving dishes are placed on the table. Sometimes the cup and saucer are placed on the right side of the spoon, about four inches from the edge of the table. Often, in less formal settings, the napkin and/or cutlery may be held together in a single bundle by a napkin ring. However, such objects as napkin rings are very rare in the United Kingdom, Spain, Mexico, or Italy.

Gallery



See also

  • Tableware
    Tableware
    Tableware is the dishes or dishware , dinnerware , or china used for setting a table, serving food, and for dining. Tableware can be meant to include flatware and glassware...

  • Flatware (cutlery)
    Cutlery
    Cutlery refers to any hand implement used in preparing, serving, and especially eating food in the Western world. It is more usually known as silverware or flatware in the United States, where cutlery can have the more specific meaning of knives and other cutting instruments. This is probably the...

  • List of glassware
  • Silver service
    Silver Service
    The Silver Service is a brand currently applied by Amtrak to two of its East Coast long-distance passenger trains operating between New York City and Miami:*Silver Meteor*Silver Star...

    , a method of table service in the United Kingdom
  • Haft-Sin, traditional table setting of Nowruz
    Nowruz
    Nowrūz is the name of the Iranian New Year in Iranian calendars and the corresponding traditional celebrations. Nowruz is also widely referred to as the Persian New Year....

    , the traditional Iranian spring celebration.

Further reading


Von Drachenfels, Suzanne. The Art of the Table: A Complete Guide to Table Setting, Table Manners, and Tableware. Simon & Schuster (2000) ISBN 0684847329