Monday, November 10, 2008
"Laying the Elegant Table"
OK, the election's over, my sweet new nephew has arrived, so now we return to our regularly scheduled program: tea, teawares, and the like. And I am so thrilled with a great new review copy of a book I received last week, I couldn't wait to share it. Originally published in France in 2005, this is the English version of Ines Heugel's "Laying the Elegant Table: China, Faience, Porcelain, Majolica, Glassware, Flatware, Tureens, Platters, Trays, Centerpieces, Tea Sets." If you're like me, the title alone is enough to make you want to check it out.
Naturally I turned to the chapter on Tea, Coffee and Chocolate right off the bat, and I was happy to find not only some new information but also some lovely photography and line drawings. There are definitely some things I've never seen before, such as the drawings of six different strainer baskets that fit over the end of a teapot. And how have I missed hearing about the tisaniere? I was able to guess at its meaning since I know what a "tisane" is, and indeed a tisaniere is the name of a French set for serving herbal tea.
See these three sugar spoons? I saw one like the third one at an antique mall in Florida over the summer and at first thought it was a tea strainer. Apparently this falls into the category known as "confection servers." I also enjoyed reading about the history of dining, dining rooms, eating utensils and tablewares. And I learned that one reason there is so much blue and white dinnerware is that blue was considered such a reliable pigment, it was always tested first against a white background. So these are the sorts of things you'll learn about in "Laying the Elegant Table," a beautifully photographed book which immediately rose to the top of my "teawares" library.