Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Table Comes First

I haven't read this book – The Table Comes First: Family, France, and the Meaning of Food – but I heard an interview with its author in which he said that one of its (and his) most basic sentiments is that the first thing a newly married couple should buy is a dinner table.

Well, it wasn't our first thing.

But we soon realized how much we needed one.

We had two very small tables from our respective apartments, but they didn't inspire regular dining room use or serve much of a purpose when people came over.

A few weeks ago, we went to the annual chili pepper fest a few towns over and met a woodworker named Roy Martin who specializes in dining room furniture. We had planned to go to a furniture chain store after the fest, but an hour of talking to Mr. Martin (or as he has inexplicably become known in our house, Ladies and Gentleman, Mr. Roy Martin), we were ruined for commercially produced tables. That combined with C's late, furniture-store-owning father's voice ringing loudly in her ears, saying "No veneers! Whatever you do, no veneers!", led us straight back to the Martin workshop in a matter of days.

It was a bit frightening to order something so custom. We're used to picking from a selection, not picking which leg goes with which apron with which chair with which stain...anyway, it was a heady and nervous-making experience, but Mr. Martin made us feel confident. And the table came Monday.

We'll add some better photos as we can, but here's some initial ones because we're too pleased to wait:

Do what you can to ignore the detracting surroundings. I think we did all right, don't you? Plus, we were fortunate – the maple Mr. Martin bought included pieces of tiger stripe maple, which has a particularly pretty grain. He lucked out, so we lucked out – he didn't charge us any more.

Edited to add this note/correction from Wikipedia:

Flame maple (tiger maple), also known as flamed maple, curly maple, ripple maple, fiddleback or tiger stripe, is a feature of maple in which the growth of the wood fibers is distorted in an undulating chatoyant pattern, producing wavy lines known as "flames". This effect is often mistakenly said to be part of the grain of the wood; it is more accurately called "figure", as the distortion is perpendicular to the grain direction. Prized for its beautiful appearance, it is used frequently in the manufacturing of musical instruments, such as violins and bassoons, and fine furniture. Another well-known use of the material is its use in guitars, especially the venerated Gibson Les Paul. The Gibson Les Paul "Standard", initially manufactured from 1958 to 1960, sported a flame maple top finished in a cherry-red sunburst on a mahogany body. Today, these instruments are some of the most prized on the vintage guitar market, and as such are unaffordable to most musicians.

"During the westward expansion of early settlers and explorers into the lands west of the Appalachian Mountains, curly maple was often used for making the stocks used on Kentucky rifles.