Claim your space
I have lunch in town with a friend just returned from taking a tour to Southern Italy. A sad sight - five men at lunch (business meeting?) awkward, staring ahead, as they have their napkins placed on their laps. They look uncomfortable and probably are. They don’t want this fiddling about their person but are embarrassed to say so or cause a fuss. It’s too late to stop this fairly recent custom, (unless you grab the napkin as you sit down and handle it yourself). But it’s interesting to consider where it came from.
European households use napkins in daily life. People grow up using them, indeed becoming reliant on them, needing them.
European restaurants do not “lap” their guests. I ask Rosa whether the insidious “lapping” has crept into Italy. “No way! They’d get slapped!” The poshest restaurant I ever went to (L’Ambroisie, place des Vosges, Paris) does not “lap”.
Unfortunately, it will start to happen as restaurants and cafés need to accommodate the American and Anglo-Saxon tourists who do not have daily napkin experience. (And here, with families having finger-friendly dinners in front of the TV, casualness calls for no napkins even as the need for them grows.)
So waiters, faced with nowhere to place your food because the napkin is still in place, decide they have to do it for you.
Let’s rise up and stamp this out. Start a movement. Grow up, I say. Claim your space. Take your napkin (unless of course you like your lap fiddled with).
10/11/2017 05:01:40 pm
Of course I agree. What is really irritating is when you leave the table to go to the loo and when you return you find the waiter has either folded or tidied up your napkin as if to say "naughty boy". I do not want my waiter putting his hands all over my napkin which I may be going to use to wipe my mouth - particularly when I don't know what he's been doing!
13/11/2017 08:33:35 am
I still use napkins as part of the table setting, although I call them serviettes, as did my mother. My grandchildren use them automatically at my table and at their own.
Pat I'm a collector. You collect other things of which others may be in awe (and you always set a beautiful table). The important thing is that we throw caution to the winds and mix things up, guided by good sense but unshackled by convention. Here the glasses are cheap, interesting and great all purpose so no glass changes. It was a casual night. My most elegant champagne flutes are from Ikea -a bridal range that they've stopped (so there's no breaking them)! My most special glasses are designed by Joseph Hoffmann of the Viennese Secession. I use them, but break one and I have to not only send to Vienna but sell a crocodile-skin handbag!
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