Asparagus Elegance | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

Some people eat asparagus with hands, as if they were finger food, a few properly cut asparagus with fork and knives, and a hand full of people know the existence of a special tool to eat asparagus with elegance. It is the asparagus tongue, with three rings comfortably positioned to insert fingers, pick up the asparagus from the plate and bring them the mouth one by one.
I adore this tool, it is elegant and a piece of conversation on the table. My set is silver and comes from Italy, but Amazon sells the stainless-steel version, practical and at a very inexpensive price. Why not taking advantage?  https://goo.gl/Vj9TFy

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

 

One person said that she has always eaten asparagus with the hands, why bothered with another kitchen tool? Sure, anything is possible. In fact, in Barcelona, I saw a woman sitting at a counter of a tapas bar eating her entire tapas dinner with the hands. It wasn’t a spectacle I liked to watch, but hey, I was observing and couldn’t help writing a travel note of that.
Since the invention of the fork, a gentler, cleaner way of eating became customary and people stopped knife stabbing their food morsels to bring them to the mouth with the tip of the knife.

However, it seems to me we have gone back to eating casually with the hands. At parties and meetings, we are served finger food because they are convenient. Most people eat French fries with hands, pick up shrimps with the hands to dip in Marinara sauce, touch chips and dips with hands, eat short ribs and fried chicken with hands, grab crackers from the pile to add a piece of cheese on them, strawberries and grapes are always near the cheeses ready to be picked up with the hands and with a plethora of sandwiches variety who needs fork and knife? Some people would say.  This is what I call the returning of historical courses.

The role of a designer doesn’t stop at placing new furniture in the room, slapping colors on the walls, selecting fabrics, or moving walls to enlarge a kitchen. We claim to bring harmony and beauty in people’s life, I believe the role of a designer is to inform and to introduce new elegance even in customs and societal behavior. What is an elegant designed home without a person showing an elegant behavior? Ciao,
Valentina
http://www.valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2018 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


It’s my hope that through my writing and my stories I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspiring you to live in beauty. I have loved my profession as an interior-fashion designer since 1990.

I am here ready to offer consultations on-line if you need. Check out my latest book on the subject of colors ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors
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I Was In A Comedy Dinner For Six | Valentina Cirasola | Author and Designer

It’s Friday evening. I am dressed to the teeth, ready to enjoy a formal elegant dinner in a private home. One of the women in the group won the ticket for a dinner for six at a private home at a charitable event and chose five people of her liking to appear in this charade dinner. I was one of them.
In the casual Californian atmosphere, I am already wondering how this formal dinner will be conceived, nobody organizes formal and sitting down dinners anymore, especially in California. For this occasion, the wife is the chef, the husband is the waiter dressed in total black with a white napkin neatly folded over his right arm, playing the part to the letter. They are travelers, I wonder if they learned that in Italy?

The dinner table is elegantly made in a 1930s style: crystal glasses, silver tableware, embroidered tablecloth, and fabric napkins. I counted the plates and there are six place sets, but we are eight counting the hosts. “There is something wrong with this picture” I am starting to ask myself. I didn’t know the people offering the dinner as an action item are not supposed to sit down with the guests.
The small cup style champagne glasses really caught my eyes, so dainty, well-etched, so different from today’s fluted glasses and so short. One sip and the champagne is gone… and so is the mind of some of the guests….
It took only a few bubbles to lose composure. Oh dear, non-senses are already spoken and we are only at the hors-d’oeuvres. What is it going to happen until the end of the dinner?

The hosts invite us to sit down.  I didn’t know anyone in the group, except the lady who invited me and was excited to meet new people. Neither did the hosts know anyone. Apparently in this type of style dinner, the hosts cannot sit with the guests, only serve them.
I truly felt awkward being served by an older couple and not having the pleasure to converse with them at the table. In my native Italy, this will never happen.

Seven courses are waiting to be consumed. I glanced in the kitchen, the portions are very small, but some of the women felt intimidated when they heard about several courses coming and felt stuffed before even trying them.
In one of the many forums I belong, it was said that seven courses are too much to offer, considering that people don’t eat that much anymore. How do we explain so many overweight people in our society? Perhaps, the large portions eaten mindlessly are the fault. The women in the group were no small examples either.

 

Did I see a pair of shoes loose under the chair of the woman on my left? Oh my, this is really promising! The woman directly across from me, an artist, asked the hostess in which order to use the flatware. Clearly, she eats with plastics every day.
Then, like in a comedy film, I incredulously saw everyone turning the plates over to see the trademark and where the dishes came from. I tried to stop them by talking about the design on the front of the dishes. It seemed very much a John Sanderson’s design, neo-classic fretwork of the middle 1700s, perhaps a copy. Well, the two women on both sides of me, just came out with a simple “really?” and still looked at the backside of the dishes, the rest of the guests were in their own “cookie wonderland“. Hard to make conversation with shallow people, I thought.

(Pumpkin Photo: BHG)

A cute starter of small baked pumpkin filled with mozzarella cheese opens the banquet and libations. The woman next to my left, after the first course, unravels the layers of her clothes. She would have taken off her bra if she could have, she admitted.
I asked her what she does when she eats in restaurants, but I received no answer.
I am envisioning this dinner as the same version of the funny film Hollywood Party with Peter Seller. I don’t know if I am amused or disgusted. I cannot get up and leave. I am beyond being offended already, so I observed in silence, thinking of what other mishaps I am in for.

The highlight of the dinner is the changing of wines with each course. Strange as it sounds, I like this old fashion way of pairing wines with food. Those women, not being wine connoisseurs, can only flash heatwaves on their skin, with increasing bawdy attitude and loud talking. To think they started the conversation in a softly and lady-like manner. What happened to their initial gentleness?

In the next scene, one woman tips over the wine glass full of white wine over the embroidered tablecloth and another one pins her long hair up with a huge clip looking as she just came out of the shower. This disaster dinner is really getting good!
The palate cleanser arrived, a well-balanced peach sorbet. Oh yes, some of them thought we are having a dessert and questioned where did the rest of the courses go. They expected to see a 6-course dinner since this affair was won at an auction. (Sorbet photo: http://www.myhobbies.com)

The conversation is boring, I am a spectator in pain and amused at the same time. Dinner was prepared in a simple way, even though seven courses sounded heavy and complicated, but it was not. It went on as the host planned it, I enjoyed every bite, appreciated the host’s culinary efforts and did not exclaim “no food for me for the next three days!” as some of the women did.

(Chicken photo: http://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/roasted-chicken-with-sausage-stuffing)

This comedy is winding down with the doggy bag shocker scene. You heard it right. A few of these “classy women” are asking for a doggy bag for their leftovers. Clearly, they have mistaken a private home for a restaurant. Once people learn bad habits, they repeat them to the nth power.
The women present at this dinner were not professional actresses, they just made their own funny and impromptu comedy. I would have liked to record it for my amusement later.

Lessons learned:

1. Never go out to dinner with unknown people, unless you make an effort to get to know them before the event, which is not always possible.

2. If you are hosting a sitting down dinner party, never serve more than four courses. Not a good idea to keep guests prisoners attached to the chairs, forced to listen to unpleasant shallow people.

3. Wines do not need to be paired with each course. Find one red wine for meat and one white wine for fish and vegetables, or find one that can be served interchangeably with all the food and stay only with those two choices.

4. Offer well tasted and liked recipes by previous guests in previous parties; offer food in the right quantity to avoid the “doggy bag” situation. No more than 1500 calories should be served all together through the entire dinner.

5. If you can, distract guests from turning over the plates, with a talk on the special dishes designs, or table setting decorations. Witty conversations are of great help in keeping the attention of guests and drive them to more proper behavior.

6. Make sure there is fresh air circulating through the dinnertime.

To me, breaking bread with people is an honor, having good manners at the table shows respect towards the hosts, the food so well prepared and the guests.

If I were a TV producer, I would have turned this dinner into a funny comedy, but I hope to have amused you for now. Ciao,
Valentina

http://www.Valentinadesigns.com

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Valentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. Vogue Italy magazine and many prominent publications in California featured her work. Among designing and remodeling homes, designing custom-made furniture and writing books, Valentina is now teaching etiquette, table manners, table setting, and lifestyle. Her new book Red-A Voyage Into Colors is about how colors affect us in life. Get your copy on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

Are We Losing Manners? | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

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The rules of Conduct, or Etiquette of everyday life have always distinguished the humans from the animals. The rules of conduct have had a great value in the evolution of man, an intelligent way to regulate his own life and the life of others.

However, the revolution of the ‘60s brought into society a refusal of conventions and restrictions, resulting in a new thinking and new set of non-rules. The proper manners of the Victorian Era considered as being too fussy, too constricted and not very expressive of human freedom, were thrown out the window completely, giving way to casual behavior, casual language, casual dressing and casual eating.

(Photo: The Oyster Lunch. Painting by: Jean-François de Troy – 1734)

Most people consider Etiquette a set of behavioral rules, but in reality Etiquette is a value system that helps us understand how not to offend others while harmonizing our own daily life.

Good manners and good customs are not the same thing and therefore it is not easy to distinguish one from the other. Good manners become in time the customs of the society’s next generation. The generation of the ‘60s not only rejected Etiquette and the value of good manners, but also refused to teach them to the generation they created. It just so happened that in the course of 50 some years we have become accustomed to see bad manners and often we feel numb around people displaying bad manners.

(Photo: Elegant Marrymaking. Painting by: Peter Angellis. Date unknown).

Having good manners is not for “dandies”, it symbolizes self-control and reliability, but it also translates in owing one’s emotions. Having good manners makes a good impression in business, on people with hiring power, on new friends and allow us to open doors. It has been said: “kindness will give us friends”.
Who on earth wants to be around disrespectful and badly mannered people?

In the last few years, etiquette schools and forums are now springing up like mushrooms, as society wants to evolve and return to the respect for others, politeness and even dressing up for our own self-respect, or eating with proper manners.
I find the non-existence of table manners one of the many prevalent faux pas in today’s society. Let’s start by learning table manners.

Using the proper eating utensils will not only show we are knowledgeable in food and we know the sequence or function of each utensils. It also will automatically bring a certain elegant behavior. Our gestures and posture will take a special attitude. Click on my link below to see many eating utensils for proper eating. Some of them have been forgotten, but not in my house. I own them all and I use all of them, impressing my guests every time.

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Being an interior designer does not mean my work stops in building comfortable homes and creating attractive home décor. My work continues in styling other aspects of life. As one of my associates says:
“Valentina will style your home first and then your palate”.
I shall be ready and prompt when you need help in styling your life. Ciao,
Valentina
www.Valentinadesigns.com

 

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

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Valentina Cirasola transforms and creates spaces realizing people’s dreams in homes, offices, interiors and exteriors. She infuses your everyday living with a certain luxury without taking away a comfortable living. 
As an interior designer with a passion for kitchens and cooking she loves to remodel homes and loves to turn unattractive spaces into castles, but especially loves to design kitchens and wine grottos.
©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, her new book on the subject of colors is due to be released very soon. Check out her books  on 

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w

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