FRENCH TABLE ART: SILVERWARE

Just as we like dressing up to go out and wearing beautiful jewels, so table bon ton must reflect our elegance and “savoir vivre”. This French “savoir vivre” should never sacrifice simplicity and naturalness for the sake of being elegant. In Paris, the art of setting the table is a very rigorous art, especially when it comes to silverware. 

Before going out for a lunch or a dinner in Paris, here are some tips about using silverware at the table. These are simple tips that you of course may already know, considering they do not differ much from Italian customs.

Silverware setting order

A little logic is enough: forks must be found to the left of the guest, given that we use them with the left hand, whereas knives and spoons are to the right of the guest. I love the idea by maison Christofle for presenting the silverware in a designer silver, metal egg (Mood collection) to be offered on a buffet where everyone chooses the utensil they need!

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When you have several courses, the host or hostess places a knife and a fork for each dish. Also in this case, the order follows the logic. Simply place the silverware from the outside in for use when starting lunch so that they are more within reach and inwards to be used at the end of lunch.

The teaspoon and dessert fork must be arranged between the plate and the glasses. However, if the silverware is not essential during the meal but only for coffee or dessert, then it is preferable to bring them out when they are needed.

Fork arrangement

In France, tradition has it that the forks are positioned with their tips pointing downwards.

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• Seafood (for example, shellfish) can be eaten with your fingers. Shrimp, instead, slips out with the help of a knife and fork.

• Broth is eaten with the tip of the spoon without making noise, and most importantly... without tilting the dish to collect the last drop (soup or even English cream).

• Cheese is eaten with a knife. Each bite is placed on a piece of bread.

• Do not eat dessert with a spoon but with a fork, unless it is a coulis or a cream.

• A “île flottante” (floating island) (1) starts with a fork and ends with a spoon.

• Eggs (scrambled) or omelettes (frittata) are eaten only with a fork. The same applies for salads, asparagus, and foie gras. Eventually, you can help by pushing the food with a piece of bread.

• Little pieces of meat or vegetables are “helped” with a piece of bread on a fork, not with a knife.

• Salad must not be cut with a knife. The reason is simple: knives never used to be stainless, thus the vinegar rusted them. This is why hosts cut the salad before seasoning it, and it is assumed that they continue to do so even now...

• Fruit is peeled with a knife and fork. For the banana, you cut the peel length-wise with the dessert knife. Open the fruit then cut it into round slices for eating... slowly.

• In the case of stone fruit, the core is gently placed on the fork, then, just as gently, the fruit is placed on the dish.

• Do not stir your cup of coffee for a long time. The coffee is stirred quickly, and the spoon is put to rest on the saucer.

• If coffee is taken in the sitting room, hold the saucer in your hand.

• Between one bite and another, place the knife and fork on your plate. Do not keep the silverware in your hand.

• When we think we are done eating let us lay the silverware on the plate, placing it in front of us in a parallel position. The knife is at the top with the blade pointed towards us. If we are not finished eating, lay the silverware crossed on the plate.

 

Marion & Nicole - Design

My name is Marion. I fell in love with interior design when I was 18, rummaging through the Flea Market for unusual objects to decorate my apartment. I turned this into my profession, becoming a personal shopper for often foreign, clients looking for the best of what the capital has to offer. As for me, it’s different. I went to a school of design and then opened my own boutique in Paris. A photo-shoot for a decoration magazine led to our intense meeting. Whether the 50’s or Empire, art of the table or floral arts, our tastes and skills are complementary. The result is always incredibly super-Parisian!

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