I have never been one for what is these days called a tablescape – readers of my generation will refer to it simply as laying the table in the same way that we used to put things on the mantelpiece rather than style it up…
But here we are in the third lockdown in the UK and it seems to be universally harder this time round. We know what to expect; we have lowered our expectations of sourdough, decluttering, redecorating and the plan is merely to get through it in the best way possible while preserving mental health and relationships.
It is The Mad Husband’s birthday next week. Clearly we won’t be going out for dinner. Added to which he usually has a weekend away with his university mates around this time and that ain’t happening either.
So, as our worlds get smaller and we can’t go out to experience things we have to bring them home to us. And I find myself wondering how to bring the restaurant experience home and I don’t just mean delivery.
One of the things that we have stuck to religiously throughout every lockdown is having supper together as a family. Breakfast comes and goes – usually because everyone gets up at different times. Lunch is also a moveable feast as the 19yo tends to breakfast at that point and the 17yo is a law unto himself when it comes to acceptable food groups.
But dinner is a fixed point in the day when we all sit down together and even if we have no news to share – I walked upstairs today, I had a zoom meeting, I started my essay…scintillating stuff – we can share a meal.
And I find myself contemplating the tablescape. The food will be Italian – because we all like that. So the room needs to become a trattoria for one night only.
There will be a gingham tablecloth. I’m not one for red so perhaps it will require something like this (see top image) in liquorice gingham (and doesn’t that already sound nicer than black and white)?
You could add candlesticks. I rather love these but if we are going to be really authentic you will jam a white candle in an empty wine bottle. These will hold either tea lights or traditional candles or even, as you see here, flowers.
I already have these pink plates, (see above) which will look so pretty on the black and white tablecloth. And napkins – we are trying to be restaurant don’t forget. Of course you can swap this all out for stuff you already own or colours you prefer.
In the same way that a mundane present feels so much more exciting when it is beautifully wrapped so a bowl of pasta on a Monday night feels more special on a beautifully laid table.
Our worlds are currently small people, we need to elevate the ordinary. And, well, it wouldn’t be Italian without the comedy giant pepper mill now would it?