Well-Laid: The art of food styling

It’s having a moment but fancy food styling dates back way further than instagram

Anastasia Miari
Heated
Published in
5 min readFeb 15, 2020

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Foraged wild florals, marble slab serving platters and pretty palates to satiate the palate. Table dressing and design has become an extension of fancy plate styling for the modern chef but how did we go from breaking bones with our bare hands and guzzling drinks out of human skulls (Homo Sapiens at Cheddar Gorge liked to sip their water in style) to today’s well-laid spreads?

The term ‘setting the table’ literally came about in the medieval period when the table itself would have to be constructed every mealtime out of trestles and a long slab of wood. Any ‘dressing’ of the table might have involved a dirty, rough cloth that diners could wipe their mouths on — basically an oversized, communal napkin. Nice.

In Ancient Greece, the design of the table itself was as important (if not more) than what was on the table. Animal shaped table legs were found on ivory and bronze tables (always low for a laissez-faire banqueting style — lazy Greeks) while centrepieces might have involved rock crystal and decorative leaves. Crockery wasn’t really a thing but the ‘skyphos’ (a deep, decorated, two-handed vessel for drinking wine) definitely was. This took pride of place at any Greek dinner party and was slurped at…

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Anastasia Miari
Heated
Writer for

Freelance journalist writing about travel, the environment, food and life for The Guardian, The Independent, The New York Times and The Telegraph.