A long, long time ago, when I was getting married for the first time, I had to pick out a china pattern. Now let us recall, this was in the early 70’s, the hippie era. I was not one of those women who had been planning her wedding since the day she was born. (And thank goodness my mother was not one of those either) So picking out a china pattern was something that I approached very casually. It didn’t help that I was forced to pick the pattern from the stock of a jewelry store in the small North Carolina town where my husband-to-be lived instead of in my hometown, a large metropolitan Kentucky city. I picked something flowery, hey, age of Aquarius, flower power, you know. Received full place settings for 13. And a few times we used all 13 place settings. And we moved all 13 place settings a few times too. And don’t let me fail to mention the table linens, napkins, silverware. Very formal stuff. Yep, moved that too. But when it came time to move to Italy, well no way that china that I never really wanted was coming with me and no way was I storing it. I sold those suckers for $200 at our moving to Italy yard sale. The couple who got it was so excited and I was so excited.
In the meantime I had picked up a set of Chinese china. More pottery like than china. A beautiful set of blue and white with a fish pattern. The interesting thing was that every China town that we visited had different pieces. Some had platters. Some had plates. Some had big bowls. Some had single serving rice size bowls. Some had small cups. Some had mugs. It took several years to compile the set, with pieces from Hong Kong, and China towns in London, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington DC. It is a great set. When we moved to Italy I was afraid that it would get broken in the move so I packed it away and stored it. I wish I had moved it. Now that airline luggage weight restrictions are so tight I will never be able to figure out how to get it here. And I’ll never be able to afford to ship it here.
Also in the mean time, we had visited Italy and I had drooled over all the beautiful hand painted Italian pottery pieces. I would buy a few and ship them back, mostly platters and serving pieces. When it came time to move to Italy, again, I was afraid they would get broken so I stored them. Besides I thought, finally, I will be able to buy a set when we get there. Well, in the one year that we didn’t visit Italy, the year before we moved here, something happened to the prices of Italian pottery. By the time I got here I could only afford one piece, not a whole set. So for our set of china to use every day and for entertaining I ended up with pieces from various grocery stores. Like my Chinese dishes, different stores have different pieces. Not the same pattern but there is an olive theme to the set. And they can go in the dishwasher and microwave.
So here is the table set for Sunday lunch with Tania and Keith. Non-matching dishes at each setting, paper napkins, stainless flatware, bamboo runners instead of linen and wine glasses from the Arezzo wine co-op. (but the champagne glasses are really nice ones)
And guess what, I couldn’t be happier. We sat at the table for several hours, eating, drinking, laughing, talking and just having the best old time. So I guess if the table is set with care and love as long as the plate is clean, it doesn’t matter if came from a grocery or jewelry store. Whether it cost $3 or $30. It’s the people sitting at the table, the food that is served and the time shared together that are important. To paraphrase a comment I read on another blog ‘without the trappings of success my mind is not trapped’ and I am able to understand these truths. (thanks Patricia Ann McKinnes) The row of clementines was a brightener too.