"In the Middle Ages, when life was rough and uncertain, “setting the table” meant placing a wooden board on top of two trestles in order to make a somewhat sturdy but ultimately moveable table. The table was merely a platform for food to be laid upon. Even at royal feasts, the only ornament on the table was a nef, a vessel made to hold salt. People brought their own knives and spoons, and ate on slices of bread instead of plates. Tables might be covered with cloth, but this was less decoration and more a giant, communal napkin for diners to wipe their hands on."Somehow "setting the table" has morphed from cobbling together a place to rest a plate to tablescaping as a competitive sport. Domestic style mavens Martha Stewart and Sandra Lee are the leading trend makers in the field.
Formal dining table at Hotel de Charost in Paris in September 2010.
Image: Thibault Taillandier/Creative Commons
Full story: Slate