The table setting (French: couvert) is the equipment and arrangement of cutlery and crockery as well as any accessories such as napkins and place cards etc. and decoration on the dining table for one person at a time. It is ready for the guest before they are seated and can be added during the meal.
Historically, the table bell was part of the host's table setting in private households with domestic staff .
The place setting depends on the type of service, the occasion and the time of day (for example, a coffee table is less laboriously set than a place setting for an evening feast). The furnishing is usually done depending on the other environment (interior) of the private dining room or table or the type and level of restaurant as well as depending on the occasion and menu . The palette ranges from simple place settings with cutlery, plates and drinking glasses to "complete place settings with silverware" for multi-course banquets and gala dinners, etc.
The table setting is an expression of hospitality. It should convey well-being to the guests and, through a harmonious ensemble, convey order and elegance. This positively emphasizes the overall impression of the board and encourages the user to eat it. Another feature of different levels of complexity is the distance between the covers and is included in an evaluation (restaurant guide, etc.) when classifying restaurants.
Place setting as a basic price in the restaurant
In some countries (Austria, Italy), the place setting denotes a basic price for each restaurant or café guest who is billed, often around three euros.
Upscale table settings - in the private sphere as well as in gastronomy - can consist of several glasses and cups , plates and several pieces of cutlery, whereby the latter should be used from the outside in depending on the menu sequence. The glasses and cups are only used according to the drinks served. Glasses are mostly placed according to their size, the smallest on the right or in front, the largest on the left or back.
The place setting is part of the table arrangement, which can also include a variety of additional items, such as:
- Napkins , some with a napkin ring
- Presentation plate
- Table pads ( tablecloths , table runners , placemats )
- Spice shakers , partly also as cruets or flat cruets with spices etc., or spice mills
- Wine cooler
- Wine and water carafes
- Coasters for bottles and carafes
- Place cards with the name of the guest, some with place card holders
- Menu cards with details of the individual dishes and the selected wines, etc. and sometimes also with details of the occasion for banquets, etc.
- Table decorations such as candles, small sculptures, centerpieces , flowers and bouquets
- Finger cup
- Toothpicks , mostly in individual packs for reasons of hygiene; partly also in toothpick holders or containers
- Table rubbish bin (today mostly only for breakfast in hotels and pensions)
- Ashtray (rare today due to smoking restrictions)
Place setting rules
The previously set table vessels and utensils for one person are called envelopes or table settings. Depending on the meal or menu, the cutlery and crockery items are placed on the table to match the food and drinks. Here, too, predetermined rules are followed.
- The center of the place setting is determined with the underplate or the mouth napkin .
- The cutlery is set in the reverse order of the menu. You start with the knives for the main course on the right side of the envelope. These are with the cutting edge to the plate. This is followed by the forks on the left. The spoon for the soup goes to the right of the knife for the main course. The large cutlery is used for this. A soup cup spoon or the middle spoon is added to a clear soup, because it is served in a soup cup. A thickened soup comes in a deep plate and a large spoon is served with it. Medium cutlery, entremet cutlery or special cutlery are used for the starter and are placed on the table in the same order as the large cutlery for the main course.
- All parts of the cutlery and the underplate should be positioned about 1 cm from the edge of the table.
- There are different variations of desserts. The entremet cutlery is used for most desserts, the middle cutlery for a cheese course. The “more dangerous” cutlery is always closer to the center of the place setting, so for the cheese first the knife, behind it the fork, in the case of desserts first the fork, then the spoon. If cheese and dessert are planned, a knife and fork are set for the cheese and a spoon for the dessert, the fork for the dessert is covered again. The handles point in the direction of the place setting, to which the cutlery is "pulled down" in front of the respective aisle.
- In most non-fiction books, the rule applies that there may be a maximum of four pieces of cutlery on the right-hand side of the place setting, and a maximum of three pieces of cutlery on the left and above. The butter spreader is not counted.
- As a rule, wine glasses are used to match the drinks served. The aiming glass is exactly above the knife for the main course at the height of the Entremet cutlery. A red wine glass is usually used, as the menu sequence usually includes darker meat in the main course. The starter is then followed by a white wine glass, which is placed next to the red wine glass at a 45-degree angle to the edge of the table .
- In addition, a small plate with a diameter of approx. 16 cm is placed as a bread plate on the left or top left of the place setting. If butter or another spread is served, a butter spreader is placed on the right edge of the plate with the edge to the left.
- At breakfast instead of glasses one be cup with lower , rather than the bread plate an egg cup (possibly with saucer) covered.
- Wolfram Siebeck: Culinary Vienna
- kleinezeitung.at: The effort justifies the price
- wosgutisst.com: Tischlein Gedeck dich!
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