We eat around 3 meals a day, not including snack time, and for most of us – especially now during COVID – that means around 800 of our 1100 eating episodes are spent at a table of sorts. Whether we entertain for one or for the masses, the sometimes sloppy work of putting food in our mouths requires protective gear in the form of a napkin.
White paper towels are handy in a quick pinch, but – other than hardly being eco-friendly – do they really do the trick? Not to get emotional about a napkin, but having collected them for a decade now, there’s simply nothing like natural fabric on your lap to make the experience of sustaining human life through food all the sweeter, don’t you think?
Early on with a new family I would set a table with placemats and linen napkins – back then some horrid shade of brown cotton – to make every meal together seem special. It was just as easy as ripping off paper towel, but somehow I knew even early on that it would elevate our time together in a special way.
My beloved Nana was a crafty woman, handy to the core with a sewing needle and piece of fabric. She was the one that taught me how to sew, forcing me to un-stitch all my rushed lines if they weren’t ‘to code’. She once made this tablecloth and napkin set that felt so special I was afraid to ever use them… In memory of her now, I really should.
Wandering the Parisian Flea Markets one early Spring, I saw and IMMEDIATELY picked up a set of 8 cream linen square napkins with a dark grey serged edge. Simple. Some wear. But beautifully curly and … authentic, somehow. Again, I was afraid to use them – to WASH them! – in case they fell into threadbare wastage. But, as with all my vintage, I’ve always thought that if I don’t use it, what’s the point? In the end, I’ve used them THE MOST and they’re still as perfectly imperfect as the day I found them. Or, the day they found me.
My current collection of napkins – that I actually use for any and every occasion – varies in either Cotton or Linen, from plain white to blue striped IKEA dishtowels (great for Crab nights!), from vintage finds to, now, my very own collection.
As a sidenote, Linen, from the flax plant, has proven itself through our everyday gatherings to be durable and super absorbent. It ages gracefully, like a well-lived woman, softening but strong as ever. I love working with natural fabrics, the hand-feel in the rawness of threads derived from actual plants and not from chemical mixtures in a laboratory somewhere.
With all the allergies in our house, Linen’s hypoallergenic loose weave and quickness to dry is just an added bonus. It’s official – I’m in love! They elevate any everyday meal to something more.
HOW EXCITED AM I to finally have a DRAWER for easy-access to all my LINENS?!
You can follow along on my Kitchen reno progress on Instagram with #alisonsKITCHENreno, or HERE over at Compose.
What do you use at home? Do you prefer cloth napkins or the simplicity of paper? Cotton or Linen?
Share a pic of your favorites and tag me on your Instagram Stories!