Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Formally Eating

Whenever you move to a new town, it takes time to meet new people with whom you enjoy socializing. About a year and a half after we moved to this area, we were invited to a formal dinner party hosted by one of my wife's work colleagues. We had lots of good food, drink and best of all to me, great intelligent conversations. However, I learned in a round about way that we were merely some replacements for a couple whom had moved away.

Years ago, five couples had decided that they wanted to host three or four formal dinners a year. When it became your turn, everyone would go to your house where you would serve them a formal dinner. Guests often times would be asked to bring appetizers or side dishes according to the desires of the host. It usually is a long affair lasting three or four hours. After the couple moved away, I think they invited several other couples to their dinners, including my wife and I to one, to try us out and see how we blended with their group. About a couple months ago, we were formally invited to join their group and we accepted.

There was one major problem though which we had to remedy. Many people when they get married get china sets as a wedding gift. Having gotten married later in life and wanting a low key wedding, we skipped this step. We eat off a set of mixed and matched dinnerware that is chipped, stained and well loved but would probably be embarrassing for a formal dinner party, not to mention that we don't even have enough of it to cover ten people.

I'm know a little about a lot of things but my knowledge base was completely blank when it came to formal dinnerware. We researched around and I even did some asking on an online forum that I am a member on and eventually bought the set that you see above. They are made from Noritake and look too good to eat off but alas, we will when it becomes our turn to host the formal dinner party.

I was a bit nervous about ordering china online knowing that it would be delivered via UPS trucks which are anything but a smooth ride but it got good reviews for being well packed and so we took a chance. Since we needed a minimum of 10 pieces of everything plus a couple in reserve, I ended up ordering two 8-setting boxes of the stuff which was cheaper than ordering one box of 8-settings and ordering pieces individually. Both boxes arrived last week and after spending a couple hours unpacking them, they were very well packaged, we only had two casualties. One salad plate was literally in pieces and one dinner plate had a huge ding in the metal banding.

I called up the online company and they offered to send me a label so I could ship the box back for free to get replaced. When I expressed my doubtfulness that I could get everything back into a box and have it survive the journey back, they offered to just ship me another full box and let me swap out the pieces and then ship it back for free. It sounds ludicrous to go to all that expense and effort instead of just shipping me two plates but that is what it will be. I'm sure it is cheaper than having someone custom box up and ship two plates.

Since we were formally invited to join this group, we had to miss the last party due to one of our daughters getting sick the day of the party and we really couldn't or shouldn't pawn her off to someone in that condition. The next party is slated for November at one of the other couple's house and I am looking forward to another fun evening. I'm not sure at this point when it will be our turn but I do know that I'm going to have to step up my game a bit when it comes to cooking and presenting a gourmet meal to these folks.


Vince said...

Ooooh that wouldn't be my cuppa-tea at all. Whenever I've had a dinner party I had it on the kitchen table with the mix and match plates and whatnot. This seems to me a bit more of a formal sport than a bunch sitting down to a good natter.
Lovely plates.

Vince said...

Did it not come with soup spoons ?.

Ed said...

Vince - Although I don't enjoy the dressing up bit nor the having to have nice dinnerware, I really do enjoy the conversation with these folks and enjoy the good food we always have. A lot of work goes into the preparations, more so than we would ever do for ourselves during a normal meal. Overall, I'm willing to pay the price of admission.

The soup spoon is the larger one and the smaller one is the desert spoon... according to the instructions. Very few of the sets came with what I would call a classic soup spoon which is a bit more round than oval in shape. It is perhaps the trend these days.

Kelly said...

Given my age and where I grew up (mid 50s, southern US), I was raised to be a "lady" (as laughable as that probably sounds to today's generation). Therefore, I learned my way around a formal place-setting at an early age. That's not to say I enjoy dining that way because I really don't. I'd much rather use everyday stuff and even get the heavy-duty disposable plates for major holiday events that involve lots of folks.

We eloped so I didn't register for anything - I already had what I needed thanks to a generous grandmother and a death or two.

I like what you picked out. It's timeless and lovely and should last you a lifetime.

Ed said...

Kelly - Don't look too hard at how I arranged things which I learned later was incorrect. I will hopefully learn with time and the internet how to properly set a table setting. However after unpacking and hand washing all of the china, I was too tired to learn the correct way before taking the photo and putting them safe from the kids in our china hutch.