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Use Versailles' Technique for Folded Artichoke Napkins, Feel French

December 23, 2016

Would you like to be French? Or at least feel French? What about bringing France to your holiday table, since it's going to probably be fancier than a usual dinner and therefore ripe for a dose of je ne sais quoi?

Maybe you're already making a Bûche de Noël. Or serving simply steamed haricots verts. In that case, you're basically halfway to France. The next logical step is to fold your napkins into spiky, perfectly frilly artichokes.

The video above was posted, as you can see, by the social media manager at the Château de Versailles (that's not an amalgamation; someone definitely has that job). It's a tutorial from "Alicia" at ore, Alain Ducasse's restaurant in the palace's newly renovated Dufour Pavilion. Speaking as someone whose dining room includes two chairs, one found on the curb and another found at IKEA, I'm going to safely assume that ore is a lovely place to pass through during the holidays.

But if you're not popping into the museum café at Versailles for a 16 Euro Croque Monsieur "collation" in the coming week, consider folding your napkins their way. Really! It's actually mesmerizing.

Watch the video, and you'll also see that the Versailles artichoke napkin folding technique is surprisingly easy to follow. It even calls for a lowly, inexpensive-in-bulk, handily disposable paper napkin. How very democratic of you, Versailles!

To make an artichoke from a paper napkin Alicia's way:

  • First, shake it open and lay it flat.
  • One at a time, fold each corner of the napkin in so its point meets the center of the napkin, creating a smaller square. Do this two more times, creasing after every fold.
  • Now flip it over and fold in the corners a fourth time.
  • Place an overturned, small bowl in the center of the folded square, then reach under the edges of the napkin and untuck the points.

Again, watching the video will clarify these steps. We Food52ers are normally not napkin fussers—we like them rumpled, right out of the dryer, and simply folded into fourths and sometimes rolled up into napkin rings—but I, for one, can't deny a good crafty tabletop project (especially at the last minute!).

Take the excuse to use paper napkins on Christmas, just this once, then toss them all when dinner's done. Then blame Versailles!

What's going on your holiday table this year? Tell us in the comments!

1 Comment

Bascula December 24, 2016
This fold is also perfect for placing a clementine in the middle. I think we learned this in elementary school when we had a "Japan day", and they called them water lilies.