During the rollicking 16th century, the nobility and the well-to-do realized there was little differentiating their plain wooden dining tables from those on which the peasantry dined (apart, of course, from the quantity of the bounty under which their tables were laden).
So they started laying diagonally-placed, overlapping squares of ornate cloth along the length of the table.
Contrasting this extravagance, there was little in the way of table manners, and dinner guests soon discovered the flaps of cloth that conveniently flopped in front of each personâ€™s seat could be tucked into one`s collar, thus protecting the diner's elaborate rulfles and silks from the splatter and grease of sloppily consumed food.
While their clothes were spared, the table cloths, on the other hand, rapidly deteriorated into food-flecked, grease- stained rags, as folks found they could also use them to wipe olf their hands and faces alter dinner.
As replacing the expensive tablecloths started eating into the lesser nobs` delicately-balanced household budgets, something better was needed, and by the midÂ·l500s, the napkin was invented.
Alter the ravages of a few meals, these smaller cloths were a lot less expensive to replace than the larger table cloths.
ln the 1700s, napkins were not only in popular use throughout the better homes and palaces of Europe, but many hosts, notably the French, started inventing elaborate ways of folding their napkins as well.
Today the napkin is an integral part of any proper place setting, and napkin folding is a unique way to make one`s table even more distinctive. Indeed, many finer restaurants pride themselves in their signature napkin folds. Weâ€˜re pleased to offer this demonstration of an historic art.
The Basic Fold
Many napkin folds begin with this Basic Fold.
1. Holding the napkin diagonally as shown, fold
the bottom corner up to meet the top corner.
2.Folding on the dotted lines, take the bottom
two corners and fold them up to meet the top
corner. You now have a square with a
"pocket" in the middle.
3. Still holding the napkin on a diagonal, tum it
over and fold the bottom corner up to meet
the top corner
The Bishop's Hat
This fold starts with the Basic Fold.
4. Your triangular piece of cloth will have an
"open" side and a"closed" side. With the
"closed" side facing outwards, bring the
bottom tips together tucking one comer
inside the other to hold the napkin together.
The Flying Nun
This fold is similar to the Bishop's Hat,
except the â€œopenâ€ side faces outwards when
the bottom tips are brought together. Allow the
loose tips to fall gracefully downwards towards
The Fleur de Lis
1. Fold the napkin in half to form a triangle.
2. Now fold the points back on both sides as
3. Pleat the napkin from left to right, folding it
back and forth as you did when making paper
fans as a child.
4. Open the "leaves" and arrange the napkin in a
small glass or in a napkin ring.
The Bird of Paradise
1. Fold the napkin into quarters (half and half
2. Hold the napkin so the free comers are
towards the bottom, then fold diagonally to
form a triangle. The free corners should be on
3. Hold the napkin by placing a finger on the top
corner, then fold first the right side, then the
left, to the center
4. Fold the lower points under the napkin.
5. Fold the triangle in half by bringing the left
side under the right side. The center fold will
6. Lay the napkin down so the corner points are
on top. Holding the broad end of the napkin
with one hand, pull up on the four corner
points to form "petals."
1. Holding the napkin so it is a diamond, fold it
in hall to form a triangle.
2. Fold the bottom portion up as shown.
3. Turn the napkin around so the fold is away
4. Roll the napkin inwards starting from the
right side. Tuck the end in to fasten it to
gefher. and stand the "candle" in the center of
1. Fold the napkin in half to make a rectangle
2. From the right side, fold the napkin into one-inch-wide pleats.
Leave the last four inches unfolded.
3. Fold in half with the pleats on the outside.
4. Fold up the bottom left comer and tuck it into the pleats, then stand the napkin up and let the folds fall to make a fan.