Sign Of The Times: Mismatching Crockery And Shrinking Napkins : The Two-Way The dinner napkin has gotten smaller and British insist on mismatching tea sets.
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Sign Of The Times: Mismatching Crockery And Shrinking Napkins

The Wall Street Journal and Reuters have noted two cultural changes you may have missed if you're not the kind to eat with real cloth napkins. (I have a 21-month-old, so paper towels — and plastic cups — are my friends.) So, here they are, two revelations in the world of haute culture:

First, the WSJ reports that the size of dinner napkins has gotten alarmingly small:

I have ugly news for you. The dinner napkin today is a fraction of its former self. And it matters less and less where you eat or shop. What seemed reasonably gigantic to me is becoming a thing of the past.

The 30-inch square, which was considered suitable as lately as 25 years ago, is now likely to be 20 to 22 inches square in a restaurant, and 18 to 22 inches at home. In a reverse trend, lunch napkins, which used to stay a respectful step behind, at 14 to 20 inches, are getting larger—even on the best laps—so that you don't have to own more than one set of napkins to get through the day.

Then, as if we weren't shocked enough, my fellow blogger Korva Coleman sends me a story about the British "deliberately" mis-matching their tea sets:

High street retailer Debenhams said a rebellion against the rigid dinner party etiquette of the last century was well under way in British households as the order of the Victorian tea set is swapped for a colourful array of plates and cups in various shapes, sizes and styles.

"It's the dining equivalent of creating a painting from scratch rather than painting by numbers. Young people want to eat meals where imagination hasn't been confined to the food," said store spokesman Ed Watson.