Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Why didn't I notice this in France?

Aarrgh.


In my shipment of household belongings from Paris was my much-used, much-loved Laguiole cutlery. Perfect for casual entertaining.


On Easter weekend I set five places at the breakfast table. Something was really wrong.

The handles didn't all go in the same direction. My ingrained etiquette dictated that the knife blade face the plate, of course. But in doing so, the fork and spoon handles faced away from the knife. The visual disarray made me seasick.


How could Laguiole POSSIBLY make a cutlery set that didn't match? (Sure, I bought it at a discount at Carrefour, but even so...) I fumed.
And why hadn't I noticed this in Paris?


Oh. Lightbulb pops.


In France the forks and spoons are placed on the table face down. See how they line up all pretty like sloops in a harbor?




I guess I'll have to carry on the French method of table setting here in the U.S., because I simply can't abide the visual disharmony of wayward flatware.






14 comments:

Michelle said...

That is a gorgeous setting.

And an educational post too! I didn't notice the face down settings while there.

ModernMom said...

I had no idea that there was a French method to setting a table! Merci!

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Yeah, in France if you have monogrammed silver, the engraving is on the flipside. And I can't even begin about napkins. In my family we always folded the square into a triangle and put it to the left of the fork. In France, hmm... I think it goes on top of the plate usually, folded but not a triangle? I never got that right. Napkin anxiety!

Deja Pseu said...

That's gorgeous flatware; I love it!

Jay Livingston said...

Ethnocentrism vs. cultural relativism -- where it really counts.

Cécile Qd9 said...

Sur une table dressée "à la française", la petite cuillère ne se place pas ici mais entre le verre et l'assiette de même que les fourchettes à dessert et couverts à fromage quand on en possède

Cécile Qd9 said...

marrant parce que je lisais justement le passage d'un livre de Didier Van Cauwelaert tout à l'heure dans le métro où il était question de couverts mis dans le mauvais sens et où le monogramme était en conséquence caché contre la nappe.

GoingLikeSixty.com said...

I knew there was a trick! I kept trying to move the pieces from left to right.

Adam said...

That is a gorgeous set! So fun that in France they turn the set facing the table.

YSLGuy said...

I love your flatware. It's so unique. I didn't know about the flatware being face down either. See..you really do learn something new each day. Thank you

Cécile Qd9 said...

et on dispose les couverts dans l'ordre où on les utilise : cuillère éventuelle si on mange de la soupee puis couverts à entrée/poisson, couverts à viande en dernier près de l'assiette. La petite cuillère ne peut donc pas se trouver avant la grande...

Cécile Qd9 said...

A few words about your message and an explained picture of a frenc table there :

http://ceciledequoide9.blogspot.com/2009/04/lectures-bloggesques-de-la-semaine-16.html

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I was thunderstruck when I saw the prices of Laguiole on their website! The flatware is available at a fraction of that cost at some place in France (Carrefour) and I've even seen it at TJMaxx in the US. And see Cecile's blog post for how to set the table in France.

Cecile: Merci! So helpful to know. I spent years goofing it.

The Paris Chronicles said...

The reason the French place the fork upside down? This goes back to pre-revolutionary times, when one wished to avoid one's blousy cuff getting entangled on the fork's tines when reaching for the wine.

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