Sir David Tang and Only Using the Best Things You Have
I must share this with you. As you know we subscribe to the Financial Times out of London. It’s really an excellent newspaper and their weekend edition is superb- particularly their Life & Style section, the House & Home section and their magazine How to Spend It. There are always thought provoking articles on art, food, fashion and a rather interesting column called Lunch with FT where they interview some person of note over lunch and also provide what was ordered. (I love knowing what people have for lunch and things like that. In fact, one of my favorite pastimes when standing in line at the grocery store is to observe what other people buy- it is very telling!). But I digress.
The first place I go to each weekend is David Tang’s column in House & Home. Sir David Tang is a business man (behind the famed Shanghai Tang stores, among other endeavors) that divides his time between Hong Kong, London and China. He runs an advice column on the subjects of “property, interiors, etiquette, home, parties and anything else that might be bothering you”. Not only does Mr. Tang possess a rapier wit, but his first class opinions on the above subjects are refreshing and unparalleled. I ran across the below question one week and found his answer to encapsulate everything I’ve ever expressed regarding only using the best things you have. Regard:
A reader writes:
In our household, Saturday breakfast is the sacred meal of the week, enjoyed at home around the kitchen table. My girlfriend makes an effort arranging the glassware in a certain order. I then have to rearrange the order of the glasses. This upsets my girlfriend, as she argues that caring about such trivial things at our own breakfast table, with no other company present, is petit bourgeois. Please advise.
Mr. Tang’s response:
One definition of a gentleman is that he uses his butter knife when dining alone. I tend to agree. I always succumb to my pair of ivory chopsticks and my best crockery and cutlery and linen whenever eating alone. Caring about how things look only when there is an audience is precisely to be petit bourgeois. I am very much from middle-class stock but I hate most of its ingredients. So you should insist on getting your breakfast table right, and observe to your girlfriend that by practicing the best, you won’t become phoney when you are joined by the Joneses and the Smiths.
I really couldn’t have said it better myself! When you use the best things you have and 'practice your best' on a regular basis, you slowly train your habits and your palate to appreciate quality. Those that save their best things for company are missing out on living a quality life and are, it has to be said, petit bourgeois.
I would love to know... are you using the best you have on a daily basis? Or are you saving your best for later?
I recently visited the Getty villa in Malibu and took some photos of Greek and Roman antiquities. The Greek wine vessels and implements pictured above are in silver and date back to 350- 300 B.C. It looks like the ancient Greeks appreciated fine tableware as well...
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