An italian table

An Italian table is easy to set up. Italians lay a fine table and I can attest that Italian celebration dinners are usually long affairs. Sitting down to eat at four in the afternoon and getting up at eight in the evening is not that unusual when your host is Italian.

Use starched linen tablecloths in pale colors or white. Italian restaurants frequently use light green or pale pink instead of white. The well-liked trattorias often sport cloths with a check pattern, big red and white are the most popular colors.

Set long breadsticks in a vase, as if they were stem lilies; a decorative way to serve bread. Shiny cutlery and wine glasses create expectation. The label on the wine bottle and colorful candles suggest we are in "la bella Italia."

Wine is almost as important as food for any Italian dinner. No need to get anything very expensive -although with Italian good wine, as with good wine anywhere else, it's worth to spend a little more- but there should be wine, and plenty of it.

Italians usually serve white wine with fish, seafood and pasta; red wine with meat, though veal, the star of Italian meats, is usually accompanied by white wine. You might get some bottles of your favorite white wine for pasta and use for the whole meal.

For drinks before dinner choose any of the wonderful Italian vermouths.

Italian children would join the celebration by drinking plain grape juice, red or white, or grape juice mixed with lemonade in the elegant cups.