No formal dinner table is truly complete without a set of chargers – those large, decorative plates that peek out from the edges of the dining plates proper, offering color, style and sometimes a rich metallic glint. How much do you know about these gorgeous pieces of table decor? Their origin – and lengthy history – might just surprise you!
What is a Charger Plate?
You may have heard the word “charger” applied to a horse before, usually in the context of battle. The Old English word “chargeour” lends its meaning to both instances, plate and horse, with a definition of carrying heavy items from one place to another. As a horse carries a rider, so do charger plates carry the load of a laden plate around the table, both functional and beautiful in their use. The original “chargeours” were considerably larger than the ones we knew today; the sort of platters used for suckling pigs and large roasts at royal feast tables. As individual dining (as opposed to platters passed around) gained in popularity through the centuries, the size of chargers shrunk to the modestly oversized plates we now know and love.
What is a Charger Plate Used For?
Beyond simple decoration and color coordination, charger plates serve a very important purpose: protecting the table and cloth beneath them. As hot plates, sloshing bowls of soup and generous plates of food are placed on them, spills and drips are confined safely away from the table cloth or surface. Crumbs and scraps slide out of sight between the plates, offering a more aesthetically pleasing dining experience. The charger plates can also be used to move hot plates without burning one’s fingers, an important note for multi-course meals or formal dinners that require employees to change the upper plates.
Is there anything charger plates can’t do? Well, there’s a few things that they shouldn’t, at least for propriety’s sake. If you are using charging plates, they can remain in place from the appetizer course onwards, but should be entirely removed from the table just prior to dessert. It’s also in poor etiquette to serve food directly on the charger plates themselves, as their decorative paint or embellishments may not be food safe – so always make sure to place a plate on top of them.
Want to grace your event table with beautiful chargers? Visit Event Rentals Unlimited and choose the perfect ones for your event today!