This may seem strange but a recent study has shown that setting your table with a tablecloth can actually affect the way people taste the food they are eating. The research showed that people ate more and reported that food tasted better when eating on a table laid with a tablecloth, and with dim lighting. The main factor in this improved perception was the use of a tablecloth. We at LinenMe are huge fans of linen tablecloths for creating a beautiful setting for a meal, and we’re delighted to find that there’s even more benefits of a nicely set out table. So, what’s going on, and how can we take advantage of this tablecloth-factor when we’re hosting a meal?
This study examined the experiences of 159 people, and overall showed that the neutral-toned tablecloth created the most conducive conditions for eating more and enjoying flavours more intensely. Similar research showed that using heavy cutlery also made people enjoy their meals more, and it appears that there are sensory and environmental influences at play when we eat. Eating off a beautifully-set table makes our brains think the food we are eating tastes better, and makes us want to linger longer over the meal. Aesthetics and ambience are clearly important in helping us enjoy our meals, and not just good for snapping pictures. We’ve used these findings to create a how-to guide to providing the optimum dining experience:
How to host the ideal meal
- Set the table with a tablecloth. We recommend linen tablecloths as they are both beautiful and functional – they are machine washable and durable, meaning they can withstand plenty of spills and washes, and they add a lovely natural, welcoming aesthetic to any kitchen or dining room. For maximum length of meals and satisfaction with the food, choose a neutral, grey/white tablecloth.
- Set out linen napkins for your guests to ensure they can dab up any food or drink as they go, and can focus on their food.
- Use coloured crockery that contrasts with the tablecloth. Colourful plates also increase people’s perceptions of how tasty their food is.
- Keep lighting low and ambient. Candles are flattering to all skin tones and create a warm, intimate atmosphere. If you’re serving lunch or breakfast, try to utilise natural daylight where possible and avoid direct overhead lighting.
- Music can add atmosphere and be a good conversation-starter, but make sure it’s not too intrusive or niche. You don’t want guests having to shout to be heard, or feeling uncomfortable.
- Unless you are hosting a very formal meal, keep the look relaxed and welcoming. Embrace your table linen’s natural creases. Don’t worry if your glasses don’t match. Ask guests to bring a dish or contribution to the meal.
Armed with the science behind enjoying our meals, and with some beautiful linen table linens, you can host divine dinners and laid-back lunches that will keep everyone wanting to come back for more. Who knew a simple tablecloth could have such an impact?