Bring Back The Cloth Napkins!

When you sit down to dinner at a restaurant, you usually expect beautiful place settings: perfectly white plates, curvaceous wine stems and a myriad of different sized utensils.  The centerpiece for your individual setting however, is almost always a beautifully folded cloth napkin.  It’s surprising how well these small accessories remind us, if only subconsciously, that we’re about to indulge in an extravagant feast.  It’s extremely easy to bring this feeling to your own dinner table every night of the week (And for considerably less expense!)

Obviously, it would be a tremendous inconvenience to have to set up and then clean up ornate place settings every night for the whole family, so let’s examine the fancy restaurant type setting to see where we can reap the most benefit.  First, a proper formal place setting will include three glasses, one for water and two for wine.  We can certainly trim this down to one or two.  Next, there are three different forks, for salad dinner and dessert. Placing one for each diner is a practical solution here, more can be brought out later as successive courses dictate.  The same goes for the teaspoon and soup spoons.  If you aren’t serving soup, you don’t need it, and tea teaspoon can be brought out if and when you serve coffee or tea.  For that matter, if you aren’t serving soup, you won’t need the bowl or the liner plate (which goes between the soup bowl and the dinner plate.)

As you might have guessed, a lot of fat can be trimmed from the fancy place setting, but one constant is the cloth napkin.  There’s something about a cloth napkin that conveys a quiet elegance to any table.  Unlike paper napkins, you are actually able to use them in the manner in which they are supposed to be used, placed in your lap.  They are also much more absorbent than paper napkins are, and are reusable since you only have to wash them.  A purchase of a few cloth napkins will last years and could save you hundreds of dollars on their paper counterparts. On the rare occasion that one becomes stained beyond repair, it’s no big deal because they’re also fairly cheap.  You now have a high quality rag.

Choosing a cloth napkin is pretty easy. Quality can be had on the cheap here, so this is definitely an affordable luxury. A good napkin should be soft, but also slightly stiff  indicating a durable weave.  Avoid the type that are thin like bed sheets, and look for a feel that resembles that of a light denim.  The stitching at the edges is also a good indication of quality: it should be double stitched and there should be no threads coming apart.  White is a great color as it matches all other colors, and conveys  sense of formality to the table.  Other colors can also be good choices depending on the color palette in your dining room, plus they can conceal light stains

I hope after reading this article you will decide to treat yourself to some nice cloth napkins.  The benefits definitely outweigh the small upfront cost, and you will definitely enjoy your meals more.  It is a crime to let these objects fall into a ‘special occasion’ category when they are very well suited to every day use.  Impress your friends and family, join the crusade for better napkins!

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