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Some Thoughts About Napkins


weinoo
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My local grocery store has many napkin options. It sells these really cheapo ones that basically are good for one wipe (face wipe). That's a store labeled brand. It sells crappy Scott's that also fall apart, especially if you're eating something juicy.

Then there are the Viva napkins. Much more expensive, and sold in various sizes - lunch napkins, dinner napkins, cocktail napkins (which I do buy, and use, for, ummm - cocktails!). The Viva product is nice and sturdy - holds up to many lip wipes.

Of course, there are also reusable napkins made out of various fabrics. Obviously, more expensive and they have to be washed. And it's hard to get them super perfectly clean - at least I find it difficult.

Since I'm not one to use an old T-shirt for a napkin (I use old T-shirts only for rags), I was wondering what napkins you all buy?

And, do you use a different napkin for each meal?

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Disposable tissues. Regular paper napkins are just too rough and not absorbent enough, and there's hygiene concerns with the cloth type - particularly in restaurants. If I'm going to catch a disease off some stranger's bodily fluids it had better be doing something fun.

Pocket-sized packets are convenient for eating, and other bodily functions, outside the home.

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This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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Have you tried Vanity Fair paper napkins. They're more expensive than the regular napkins I buy Marcal Small Steps napkins preferably in the 400 ct. pack. Depending on what I'm having I may put two napkins on the table, under the knife or fork. My turkey, tomato, bacon, and avocado sandwich is a 3 napkin sandwich. I go through a lot of the Marcals since I use them for wiping up small spills, wiping the lips of bottles, wiping off knives and forks and such after I 've rinsed them off. In other words as a small paper towel.

The brand of disposable tissues I buy don't lend themselves to substituting for napkins, too soft, and the napkins I use don't lend themselves to substituting for tissues, too coarse.

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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For daily use I buy Familia Sancela small and normal napkins, which are similar in consistency to the Viva napkins you mention but are more durable, softer, and more absorbent. They double as tissues.

For the finely set table, I have linens. The secret to getting grease out of 'em is gran's lye soap.

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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Bounty quilted napkins work real good.

They're thick and absorbent, not wimpy like most paper napkins.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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We use cloth napkins. I have a couple of sets with matching place mats as well as some odds and ends napkins accumulated from who-knows-where. Sometimes I use small hand towels or dish towels (when eating by myself). Toots has a variety of cloth napkins, some of which she made. Cleaning them has never been an issue for me, and Toots, like you, sometimes has problems, but then she'll give me her napkins to launder. I'm much better at doing laundry than she is.

I suppose getting them clean depends on a number of factors: what you ate, their material, how well you handle laundry tasks, choice of detergents, etc.

I replace the napkins after a couple of meals, depending on how much they've been used. Sometimes after one meal, sometimes after several. With guests, always fresh, clean, pressed napkins and place mats.

The idea of using paper napkins or towels seems so wasteful, especially around the house. Just throw 'em in the laundry with other things you're washing.

Edited by Shel_B (log)

 ... Shel


 

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Do you keep a separate laundry bag for kitchen things you have to wash such as dish towels,bar wipes, aprons, pot holders and place mats? In an effort to conserve water and electricity ( in an all electric house) I do them with my shirts. Otherwise they'd have to go in with wash cloths, hand and bath towels, socks, underwear and jeans. I've a couple of hutch drawers with table cloths, cloth napkins , and cloth place mats, but only the place mats get used. I worry that if I kept a separate laundry bag for kitchen cloth things, by the time I had enough accumulated to make it worth doing a load of wash, the older things might have gotten funky.
Some of my cloth things say wash in cold water, gentle cycle, etc, but in they go with the shirts and I don't separate whites from colors.

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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We use cloth napkins. I have a couple of sets with matching place mats as well as some odds and ends napkins accumulated from who-knows-where. Sometimes I use small hand towels or dish towels (when eating by myself). Toots has a variety of cloth napkins, some of which she made. Cleaning them has never been an issue for me, and Toots, like you, sometimes has problems, but then she'll give me her napkins to launder. I'm much better at doing laundry than she is.

I suppose getting them clean depends on a number of factors: what you ate, their material, how well you handle laundry tasks, choice of detergents, etc.

I replace the napkins after a couple of meals, depending on how much they've been used. Sometimes after one meal, sometimes after several. With guests, always fresh, clean, pressed napkins and place mats.

The idea of using paper napkins or towels seems so wasteful, especially around the house. Just throw 'em in the laundry with other things you're washing.

Does Toots walk to your house to bring you her laundry, or vice-versa? Because if either of you is driving, that sure wastes a lot of gas.

And I'd venture to say that very few people would want to reuse their napkins without washing them - sure seems germy to me.

Edited by weinoo (log)
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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Paper making uses more water than all other manufacturing.

I buy unbleached napkins and paper towels.

dcarch ( I am holier than thou, LOL!!!)

BTW, It's not that easy to find unbleached paper :-(

Are they made of recycled paper? Hmmm?

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Cloth napkins are fine and have their place but I much prefer good paper napkins for BBQ and Buffalo Chicken Wings or anything else that tends to be super messy.

~Martin :)

I just don't want to look back and think "I could have eaten that."

Unsupervised, rebellious, radical agrarian experimenter, minimalist penny-pincher, and adventurous cook. Crotchety, cantankerous, terse curmudgeon, non-conformist, and contrarian who questions everything!

The best thing about a vegetable garden is all the meat you can hunt and trap out of it!

 

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When our group of "junkers" goes to the local diner after the big flea market we always ask the waitress for extra "good napkins". They put tough ones on the table under the silverware but wimpy ones in the push dispenser on the table. You have to use maybe 4 of the wimps to achieve the performance of the toughies. Cloth does not environmentally or practically pencil out for me at home, especially when entertaining. I have often seen a guest scope out the paper towel holder rather than sully a pretty cloth napkin.

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Cloth napkins - seriously, guys? That stuff is decoration. Maybe you guys boil and bleach your laundry (hello, grandma!), but I guarantee restaurants don't. Say hello to Mr. Herpes Simplex for me!

The brand of disposable tissues I buy don't lend themselves to substituting for napkins, too soft, and the napkins I use don't lend themselves to substituting for tissues, too coarse.

I think you need to use more and/or better tissues, Arey.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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We use paper towels.

Same here. For formal meals we fold the paper towels in a triangle. :rolleyes:

OMG. That's what we do. Casual meal - family and close friends - the roll is on the table or in close proximity. Formal? We tear off individual towels and fold them. Really, really formal? Like Christmas? Ikea is your friend for cheap, attractive, sturdy paper napkins. How many of us honestly find napkins necessary at EVERY meal? When it's only family.

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Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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We use paper towels.

Same here. For formal meals we fold the paper towels in a triangle. :rolleyes:

OMG. That's what we do. Casual meal - family and close friends - the roll is on the table or in close proximity. Formal? We tear off individual towels and fold them. Really, really formal? Like Christmas? Ikea is your friend for cheap, attractive, sturdy paper napkins. How many of us honestly find napkins necessary at EVERY meal? When it's only family.

Even for buffet style family gatherings and holidays I always designated my challenged niece as the paper towel folder. She looked forward to it as a ritual, and we were all mess free and happy.

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I like Vanity Fair for paper, which is fine for family (me) lunch or daily supper,and I do also use a Viva paper towel on my own. But I love cloth napkins-- I have loads of them, mostly 100 per cent linen, in sizes from cocktail to 20" square, and I use them for company, holidays, and when i make myself a really nice dinner or just because i like nice things. Actually, I use the cocktail Napkins all the time. I send them out to the laundry. I have a few informal ones that are blends that I wash and sometimes press.

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Cloth napkins, almost always. I dislike the wastefulness of of single-use paper napkins, including the water needed to make them, although I'm not a purist on this issue: I do use paper towels, and other disposable paper products, when they seem like the best material for the job.

It could be that cloth napkins help satisfy my nearly-terminal weakness for textiles. I do love cloth: its colors, its patterns, its texture, its ability to combine utility with beauty.

It's usually just 2 of us, and the napkins stay in position until I deem them ready for the laundry, in which case they go into the laundry basket until time to wash. He uses his napkin, I use mine, and I can't think of a germ we haven't shared already.

When we entertain, all the table linens are fresh, and the guests' linens go into the wash afterward. Y'all can come visit us any time, without having to worry about sharing somebody's germs.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Oh, please--unless I've serving ribs or anything else that we eat with our hands it's always cloth napkins. First of all, it's wasteful to use a paper napkin and then throw it away. If we have guests for dinner I wash the napkins afterward, so there's no issue with germs. If it's just the two of us, we use our cloth napkins until one of us (or both) has a spill or other messy event, at which point the napkin goes into the laundry.

I would never put out paper napkins for guests, although we are planning Thanksgiving for about 35 people and I might consider it. But that's the only time I might use them. We spend so much time preparing food that the idea of a paper napkin seems contrary to what we're doing in the kitchen. I like to think of a meal as something special, even if it's leftovers and a glass of milk. We all worship at the church of our choice, and mine is at the table.

Nancy in Pátzcuaro

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Formerly "Nancy in CO"

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Does Toots walk to your house to bring you her laundry, or vice-versa? Because if either of you is driving, that sure wastes a lot of gas.

And I'd venture to say that very few people would want to reuse their napkins without washing them - sure seems germy to me.

<LOL> You're a stitch! No, if I'm at her place and she has a few things for me to launder, I'll just throw 'em into my bag and take 'em with me. No extra driving, no wasted gas. In fact, we live close enough that it's not at all difficult to walk to one another's house. Often I take public transportation. A bus stops right in front of my place and lets me off right in front of her place. And, when the mood strikes me and the weather's nice, I'll ride my bike over to her place. No wasted gas, no extra trips in the car.

As for reusing napkins, many people use 'em more than once. Just read some of the recent postings in this thread. The preoccupation people have with germs is difficult for me to understand.

Edited by Shel_B (log)
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 ... Shel


 

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Cloth napkins - seriously, guys? That stuff is decoration. Maybe you guys boil and bleach your laundry (hello, grandma!), but I guarantee restaurants don't. Say hello to Mr. Herpes Simplex for me!

I actually think that restaurants using cloth napkins, tablecloths, etc. and sending them out to a service get them practically boiled, bleached, lyed and who knows what else.

Significant Eater (my significant other) often uses her napkin (papr) for a final nose-blow before leaving the table. If we're using cloth napkins, I tend to think of them like handkerchiefs and nobody would want to use one of those more than once.

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Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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Do you keep a separate laundry bag for kitchen things you have to wash such as dish towels,bar wipes, aprons, pot holders and place mats?

Nope - all my things go into a large hamper and are washed by color and material, and I use different detergents appropriate to what's being washed. Don't really have room for separate laundry bags anyway. Shirts are professionally laundered ...

 ... Shel


 

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