Monday, March 14, 2011

Life at the Top of the Crystal Tabletop

The 'Golden Rule' of Etiquette is: "He who has the most gold rules." Rules change as society changes, but those in the know, always know!
As a Registered Bridal Consultant for a dozen years, I saw many permanent changes in the way people use their tableware. In today's column, we are addressing stemware and its usages.
Before 1911, there were no Federal taxes. Definitely an industrial age of opulence. Tiffany & Company capitalized on the 1000 new, New York millionaire capitalists by coming out with at least 99 different utensils for 99 different foods and drinks. Water glasses, wine clarets, iced tea glasses, port glasses, cocktail glasses, fruit cocktail glasses, high ball glasses, double old fashioned glasses, champagne saucers, finger bowls and plate, etc. Basically, Tiffany & Co. fueled for their own benefit, this age of opulence by creating new rules of etiquette for daily, albeit, fancy living, for those who could afford that life at the top of the crystal tabletop.
Thank goodness those days are over, as now, one does not have to have money to have manners. Who has the desire (never mind money) to acquire all those 99 items and who can clean it all and keep it all up anyway. The old opulent, yet strict Victorian rules for stemware no longer apply.
Brides and 'Singletons' now use what used to be the water goblet for the wine goblet. Iced tea glasses are now used for the water glass, so guests do not run out of water so quickly at the table. Or, the iced tea glass can be used for dessert parfait or pudding!
Very few families can afford domestic help any longer, so the hostess has been forced to be creative in trying to make her duties easier. She too, wants to partially enjoy her party when entertaining. Neither wine clarets nor port wine glasses are used much any longer.
One can also wash crystal in the dishwasher! No hand washing needed! Don't fret, it will not break. Load your crystal into the dishwasher gently and laterally. Do not crowd your crystal. Run a few loads if needed. Use your gentle cycle only and NO heat dry. Only use the air dry cycle. Use only 1 teaspoon of PLAIN detergent. Never use lemon detergent on anything other than pots and pans. Crystal and china have a glaze on them and the acid from the lemon will eat off this glaze over time and dull and fade your crystal and china. Yes, plain detergent is hard to find, but dig for it in the supermarket or special order it at the customer service desk of your local market.
So, be creative, enjoy your crystal, then wash it in the dishwasher!

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