Obscure cultural awesomeness: Placemats
The placemat (picture below) is a device used by Aristocracy instead of plates. Indeed, in the late 18th century, with the work of Wedgwood, plating had hit its cultural and material upper bound, much like High Modernism in the New York art scene of the mid 1950’s. Faced with the profound, and somewhat earth shattering realization that crockery technology could evolve no further, Louis XVI invented the Placed Mat as the next progression in platewear.
The placemat is set on a table directly in front of the dinner recipient, where a plate would normally be positioned. Much like a plate, food is placed upon the placemat, and eaten with flatware. A new placemat is used for the salad, soup, and entre courses. For dessert, a special placemat, called a “doily,” is often utilized in formal situations.