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European Traditions in Linens and Housewares

Our discoveries along the byways of France and Beyond


Dishware & Glassware

French Dinnerware, Dishware, Glassware, and CrystalIt is always a hard decision for me when I am preparing a table for dinner. Which comes first in deciding what to use, the tablecloth or the dinnerware and crystal? Which tablecloth to use? Do I really want to use that crystal or dinnerware tonight? Since I tend to accumulate tablecloths, placemats and dinnerware, this all can become somewhat complicated and so the answer for me usually comes when I decide what we are going to eat, who we are serving or entertaining and how formal do we want the occasion to be. Once that is decided, the rest comes fairly easily.

For the more formal occasions I usually choose a fairly muted, solid color tablecloth on which I can place porcelain dinnerware. I have one set that is an antique that once belonged to my grandmother and must be hand washed. The reason I mention this is that if you do not like washing up by hand, be careful when choosing dinnerware because some can not be cleaned in a dishwasher. I also like to keep the table uncluttered, so that I do not have too many differing designs catching the eye while eating. The dinner setting should be relaxed and peaceful so that guests can feel at ease and conversation can flow without distraction. The crystal stemware can also be simple and the size and variety is in general decided by the beverage served.

The less formal occasions I tend to use more colorful table cloths, runners, or placemats with pottery or glass dinnerware. I still like to keep things as simple as possible but I also like to have a bit of whimsy and humor to enliven the evening. With the very complex patterned tablecloth or placemat I like to use either more solid color dinnerware or even glass dinnerware so that patterns don’t clash. Glass dinnerware has an added advantage in that it allows the pattern of the cloth to show to greater advantage.

As you can see, how you decide to decorate your table is a very individual decision based on your creativity and taste. There are some things however that are of very practical nature. For all your dinnerware and crystal, be certain that there are no flaws in the manufacturing process so that it all sits solidly on the table and there is no wobbling. Sometimes when cups or glassware are being manufactured there can be either a seam or a bit of rise around the brim of the glass or cup and that can be annoying to the diner. There is also a safety factor for all the pieces that will either hold liquids or be used to either hold or cook food. Sometimes the material used for decoration can be leached into the beverage or food and that can be harmful, especially to children. I always ask what has been used in producing the items I buy to insure that this is unlikely to happen. Most manufacturers are very willing to give out that information. Unless the manufacturer specifically states that a piece is oven or microwave safe assume that the piece is not. I have made the mistake of using a piece in the oven only to have it crack and spill hot liquid all over the oven and floor. This is not only a big safety issue; it is also a big mess.

We have to the best of our ability chosen products which are safe and convenient so that you can concentrate on choosing those things which suit your decor. See our offerings in the Gallic Traditions e-store .

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