Monday, 11 May 2015

France, Russia…Or Essex?

In one of the NT places we visited over Easter [was it Oxburgh or Blickling, I can’t remember] the guide was telling us about the dining room. She explained that people used to have “French Service” where all the food was displayed on the table at once – but then the gentry went over to “Russian Service” – where each course was brought out in sequence. This meant the place settings were different, she said. There was less cutlery for Russian style

frenchplacerussian place

Inviting the Deacons and their families for Sunday lunch, I opted for neither of these. My dining table is not big enough for two dozen to sit in splendour with an assortment of cutlery and wineglasses.


I was born in Essex – so decided to take a leaf out of Jamie’s book and opt for a slightly less formal approach. I put knives, forks and spoons in jugs beside a stack of plates.


I love having guests for Sunday lunch – but it requires planning if I am to also get to the Morning Service at church. I set the plates and cutlery out the night before.

P1010324I had the door to the lounge open, so I was singing along with the marvellous BBC VE Day Concert. So I could remember what was going in which serving dish, I put them out with labels inside.

That way I knew I’d have enough dishes ready, and made it easy to decant stuff from the fridge on Sunday just before the guests arrived. I confess that I did succumb to buying another piece of Edwardian EPNS on a stall at the Vintage Tractor Fair last week.


It is a crumb pan, and would originally have had a little brush, so that the tablecloth could be swept clean. It was filthy and tarnished on the stall, and the bloke wanted £1.50. I tried to haggle, arguing it should only be a quid as the brush was missing, but he wouldn’t budge. So I paid up, and came home and got out the Brasso. I decided its size, and lipped edge mean I can use it as a serving slice.

On reflection, it is probably a little inconsistent of me to shove a handful of forks in a jug informally – and then at the other end of the table have a fancy Edwardian Ham Fork, Crumb Tray and Fruit Ladle. Never mind! It’s company, comestibles and conversation which are the most important – cutlery styling is a secondary issue.


  1. Looking at your crumb pan, I would have thought it was a Crumb Pan For A left Handed Person. Or is it just me that would assume that the brush would be in the dominant hand and the pan in the other Or maybe its just me that thinks about such peculiar things. And it makes the crumb pan more usable as a serving device.

    1. How perceptive of you to spot that. Yes, I am righthanded, and use my regular kitchen brush&dustpan with brush in right hand. [kitchen ones tend to be ambidextrous] Having looked at images of SETS online, some sets appear to be a device like mine which scoops into a larger tray [so would work for R-hander] others are like mine but with a brush [so L-hander] Isn't that intriguing! It DID work well for serving though.

  2. What a clever idea to put the labels in the dishes! I will be using that tip, myself, in the future. A couple of times a year, I host a lunch or dinner where friends and family help dish the meal and labeling the dishes will make it easier. Thank you for sharing this tip.

  3. My grandma had almost the same crumb set!

  4. I'm resolving not to be jealous, in my drive to have less stuff! I'm sure you had a fabulous time all together. I think the conversation and the company are far more important than the comestibles. Though I can imagine that they were fabulous too x

  5. a great idea to serve lunch buffet style when having lots of guests. Nice cutlery pots, one of my favourites of Hornsea Pottery.

  6. These are all really sensible ideas!! Very glad you got a lovely crumb catcher-I would love on for my never ending battle against the worktops and CBC and crumbs!!!x

  7. I hope you are not suggesting that CBC is crummy!!

  8. We always have our cutlery in glasses unless it's really formal. That way guests help themselves and I think it looks nice too.


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