The Maxwell Moment: The Scarf Napkin Fold

http://Brini.TV ► Like Brini on Facebook at ►

Napkins ►

More! ► http://www.BriniMaxwell.com

What's Your Problem? Ask Brini Maxwell anything at ►

For my mod dinner party I wanted something special, so I used my silver glazed linen napkins and implemented the scarf fold which needs a napkin ring. It's very simple. Just fold the napkin into quarters, then fold it in half diagonally and pleat back each half. Slip it into the ring and arrange the folds so it lays well. I used rectangular white metal rings, but this fold works with round rings as well. It really makes a pretty presentation!

Creative napkin folding may have started during the reign of Louis XIV, when people decided to present napkins as an art form. However, napkin folding really took off around the turn of the last century. 

A creatively folded napkin can make the simplest meal classier, and dinner guests are always impressed by an artfully folded napkin resting at their table setting.

The art of napery folding has been compared to origami, and many different types of three-dimensional figures may be produced.

You can learn to fold napkins into pyramids, pockets for flatware, flowers, hats, fans, slippers and various animals.

The best type of cloth napkin to use for napkin folding is crisp linen, as it holds its shape better than other types of cloth.

Brini's 100% European Linen Napkins

The first napkin was a lump of dough the Spartans called "apomagdalie" a mixture cut into small pieces and rolled and kneaded at the table, a custom that led to using sliced bread to wipe the hands.  In Roman antiquity, napkins known as sudaria and mappae were made in both small and large lengths.  The sudarium, Latin for "handkerchief" was a pocket-size fabric earned to blot the brow during meals taken in the warm Mediterranean climate.  The mappa was a larger cloth spread over the edge of the couch as protection from food taken in a reclining position.  The fabric was also used to blot the lips.  Although each guest supplied his own mappa, on departure mappae were filled with delicacies leftover from the feast, a custom that continues today in restaurant "doggy bags."

In the early Middle Ages, the napkin disappeared from the table and hands and mouths were wiped on whatever was available, the back of the hand, clothing, or a piece of bread.  Later, a few amenities returned and the table was laid with three cloths approximately 4 to 6 feet long by 5 feet wide.  The first cloth, called a couch (from French, coucher, meaning "to lie down") was laid lengthwise before the master's place.  A long towel called a surnappe, meaning "on the cloth" was laid over the couch; this indicated a place setting for an honoured guest.  The third cloth was a communal napkin that hung like a swag from the edge of the table.  An example can be seen in The Last Supper by Dierik Bouts (1415 - 1475) which hangs in Saint Peter's Church, Louvain, Belgium.  In the late Middle Ages the communal napkin was reduced to about the size of our average bath towel.

The napkin had gone from a cloth laid on a table to a fabric draped over the left arm of a servant.  The maitre d' hotel, the man in charge of feasts, as a symbol of office and rank, draped a napkin from his left shoulder, and servants of lower rank folded napkins lengthwise over their left arms, a custom that continued into the eighteenth century.  Today in the United States, the napkin is placed on the left of the cover.  But in Europe, the napkin is often laid to the right of the spoon.

The napkin was a part of the ritual at medieval banquets.  The ewerer, the person in charge of ablutions, carried a towel that the lord and his honoured guests used to wipe their hands on.  The Bayeux tapestry depicts a ewerer kneeling before the high table with a finger bowl and napkin.  The panter carried a portpayne, a napkin folded decoratively to carry the bread and knife used by the lord of the manor, a custom that distinguished his space from those of exalted guests.  The folded napkin was placed on the left side of the place setting; the open end faced the lord.  The spoon was wrapped in another napkin, and a third napkin was laid over the first and second napkins.  To demonstrate that the water for ablutions was not poisoned, the marshal or the cup bearer kissed the towel on which the lord wiped his hands and draped the towel over the lord's left shoulder for use.

"If napkins are distributed, yours should be placed on the left shoulder or arm; goblet and knife go to the right, bread to the left."
Erasmus, De Civilitate Morum Puerilium, 1530

Brini's 100% European Linen Napkins

No comments:

Post a Comment