This Eid, take out a little time to dress up your table. Follow these basics for a beautiful table arrangement that will add a whole new flavour to your feast.
For a three-course meal, keeping Pakistani cuisine in mind, an informal table setting is most appropriate for an event, recommends Adullah Haddi, the operations manager at the College of Tourism and Hotel Management. Owing to its western heritage, a formal table setting consists of a six-course meal comprising soup, fish, game, meat, dessert and fruits, therefore requiring a fish fork and soup bowl that isn’t necessarily needed for a traditional feast of biryani and kebab.
Whether formal or informal, the first step to setting up any table is to select a tablecloth to fit the occasion. According to Nawab Sajjad, a food and beverage instructor at the Pakistan Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management, “When setting a tablecloth on the table, the host should make sure the cloth hangs two inches on each side.” If the cloth is too long, the guest will experience discomfort while being seated.
For an informal setting, Haddi believes that a printed tablecloth and colourful plates would perfectly complement each other. “White plates or tablecloths are [mainly] used for a formal dinner setting,” he says, adding that colour should be limited to the borders of the plate as less is always more. For the tablecloth he suggests using vibrant colours such as red and blue or a combination of green and yellow.
Since elders are often served by the host as part of our culture, Sajjad emphasises practicing the silver service method invented by the British. It requires food to be served and drinks to be poured from the left hand side of the guest and cleared from their right. And the food should be served using a spoon and a fork. It is also important to clear the table of all the used items before serving dessert.
“People often ignore hygiene but it is the most important aspect of serving,” says Sajjad. Even the smallest things matter when hosting a formal event. Both Sajjad and Haddi agree that extra care must be taken of cleanliness. “Before the event, everything should be dusted and cleaned. What’s the point of hosting an event if the place appears dirty,” says Haddi.
Bread and butter plate should be placed on the left side, above the dinner plate. It is used to put away used flatware.
Salt and pepper cellars should be placed above the plate.
Standard plate/ Dinner plate should be around nine inches and placed right in front of the guest.
The dessert spoon and fork should be placed above the dinner plate.
The water goblet should be placed just above the tip of the knife on the right and the wine glass on the right side of the goblet.
The rice spoon and knife should be placed on the right and the meat fork on the left. The knife blade should always face the plate.
The napkin should be placed either on top of the plate or beside it. It can also be folded inside the water goblet or into a pouch to hold all the basic silverware (knife, fork and spoon) and placed on the right.
Nisma Chauhan is pursuing a Bachelor in mass communications. She tweets @ChauhanNisma
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, July 27th, 2014.