A well-dressed table takes as much time to prepare as the meal. On the French equivalent of ‘Come Dine With Me’, ‘Un Dîner Presque Parfait’, contestants are scored on both hospitality, décoration de la table, and their cooking skills.Guests have been treated to such things as tables full of tropical fruit, or a layer of sand to replicate a beach scene. One that was particularly memorable had a fishpond in the middle made by building a low Plasticine perimeter wall, lining the middle space with impermeable material and adding real goldfish! Napkins, flowers, glitter, placemats, many sizes of drinking glasses are often used and there are shops that specialise in selling these items. Candles seem to be ‘de rigueur’. I find it slightly ridiculous that there are sometimes so many things on the table that when the food arrives everything has to be displaced to make room for it!

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