Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Dressing the Perfect Thanksgiving Table

In the South of France, the Cicada is a popular motif for linens because it is associated with good luck

What's your favorite holiday? 

Thanksgiving or Christmas? 

A poll among our facebook friends suggests that Thanksgiving is preferred by far.  Reasons given include ""it's all about the family", "less commercial", "no presents" short, it's the company that's around and the food that's upon the table that makes Thanksgiving.  The table literally takes center stage at this time of year. 

With this in mind, we sauntered down to Reading Terminal Market to interview Laura di Francesco, owner of Contessa's French Linens for her thoughts on how to dress a table for Thanksgiving.

Laura has a passion for French linens.  She sources hers from Marseilles and Nice, believing that "the best linen comes from the South of France."

She goes direct to the South of France to select her stock and claims that only things that pass the "Laura wash test" make it into her store in the Market.  By this, we mean that Laura herself washes a tea-towel, tablecloth or napkin many times - to check for shrinkage and loss of color - before placing an order for that line of linens. 

Linen from the South of France is characterized by its color and the motifs favored by the weavers. 

Popular colors include lavender blue, sunny yellow and bright white. 

Motifs are always drawn from the natural world; we spotted bunches of lavender, trailing vines, flower designs and of course the symbolic cicada -- synonymous with happiness and good fortune!

Laura's store is a riot of color.  Her linen table cloths are richly patterned and colored

Her advice to those looking for linens, either as a cheerful holiday gift, or to dress their own table: 

1.  "Don't skimp on the quality.  Look for fabric that is teflon-coated.  This is important because it means the fabric won't absorb food and wine stains; you can sponge off stains immediately."

2.  If you want to use something other than a tablecloth, then try using a napkin as a place mat and then match that napkin with another napkin, folded attractively.  (see above)

3. People often move away from the Thanksgiving table between the main course and dessert.  Because of the quantity of food, guests may take a break between courses and rejoin later for dessert or coffee.  In order to help people remember where they sat, and more to the point, remember which napkin was theirs, then why not use a different colored napkin for each person?

As the days get shorter, we rely on fun-filled celebrations like Thanksgiving to lift our spirits and get us through the winter season.   Half the fun is in the plotting and planning behind the scenes for the Big Day.  If you are in need of a pick me up at this time of year, linger in Laura's store; Contessa's French Linens are extraordinarily beautiful both to the touch and to the eye - golds, reds, oranges, purples and cobalt linens dazzle and delight.

For further information, or to order directly from Laura, refer to her website.

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