The trencher was a large flat piece of either bread or wood. In the Middle Ages this was a common way of serving food, the bread also being eaten; even in elite dining it was not fully replaced in France until the 1650s, although in Italy maiolica was used from the 15th century.
During the reign of George III of the United Kingdom, ephemeral table decoration was done by men known as 'table-deckers' who used sand and similar substances to create marmotinto works for single-use decoration. In modern times, ephemeral table decorations continue to be made from sugar or carved from ice. The final replacement of silver tableware with porcelain as the norm in French aristocratic dining had taken place by the 1770s.
Forks and spoons came later, and are initially only for the wealthy, who typically carried their own personal set. After the Romans, who made great use of spoons, joined by forks later, there were only knives and perhaps wooden spoons for most of the Middle Ages. The table fork was revived in Italy in the 16th century, and was described for his English readers by Thomas Coryat in the 1590s as 'not used in any other country that I saw in my travels'. In England and France, it only became common after the 1660s, even in the court of Louis XIV, and for a while seems to have mostly been used by ladies, and for especially messy food, like fruits in syrup. In Europe the elites dined off metal, usually silver for the rich and pewter for the middling classes, from the ancient Greeks and Romans until the 18th century.
At an Este family wedding feast in Ferrara in 1565, 12,000 plates painted with the Este arms were used, though the 'top table' probably eat off precious metal. In a family setting, a meal typically includes a fan dish, which constitutes the meal's base , and several accompanying mains, called cai dish .
More specifically, fan usually refers to cooked rice, but can also be other staple grain-based foods. If the meal is a light meal, it will typically include the base and one main dish. The base is often served directly to the guest in a bowl, whereas main dishes are chosen by the guest from shared serving dishes on the table. Table decoration may be ephemeral and consist of items made from confectionery or wax - substances commonly employed in Roman banqueting tables of the 17th century.