Appalachian Dialect

Appalachia Through My Eyes – Spread The Table

My life in appalachia spread the table

In Appalachia we spread the table before we sit down to eat. Do you?


Appalachia Through My Eyes – A series of photographs from my life in Southern Appalachia.

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  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    July 26, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    No, we “set” the table, and to clear it after the meal, we “red” the table which I’ve recently discovered is suppose to be “rid” it. But when we were growing up, it was “red”. Funny how some things change, isn’t it; and how other things stay the same too.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    July 24, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Don’t know if this will see the light of day (or lamp – or computer screen. . . . but:
    After feeling guilty about not being “on the Sunny Side”, I came back to check to see if I had offended anyone with my grumpiness – I do apologize. We had just celebrated my father’s 93rd birthday and somehow the family seemed more demanding than usual. Ordinarily, except for missing an old-fashioned sit down dinner, I really don’t mind this too much except to be thankful for a little extra cabinet space and a 2nd refrigerator in the garage.
    Please tell Ed thanks “for listening” – he will be welcome at our table anytime; and I will try to make sure he doesn’t have to travel the 25 miles to the nearest Mickey D’s. ; )

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 11:10 pm

    Our family used to talk about the spread on the table, or a picnic spread or a holiday spread, but not particularly about spreading the table, although I wouldn’t be surprised if my mom’s folks said that, as it sounds like it would fit in with the way they talked about many things the way I remember them.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 23, 2013 at 9:54 pm

    Tamela-I never heard grousing before but I looked it up and I love the term. If I come to your house and don’t see what I like, I will eat what you serve or I’ll shut my mouth and go by Micky D’s afterward. If you believe in evolution, we got here by eating what was offered. If you don’t believe in evolution, we got here by eating what was offered. I don’t think “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” has been around that long.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    Although we “set” the table, we certainly discuss extensively the “spread” on the table!
    When I was growing up, we ate what was offered or we “zipped our lips”. As our family has grown, our spread has become crowded with an assortment of condiments and dishes to meet the varied “requirements” and many at our table are quite vocal about their “needs” and opinions: butter/canola butter/margerine/olean, sugar/honey/agave syrup/or an assortment of artificial sweeteners, white bread/whole wheat bread/rice “bread”, catsup/Worchestershire/soy, mustard/hot mustard/brown mustard/Grey Poupon, mayonnaise/Miracle Whip/egg whites with olive oil/, Italian/Ranch/Catalina/HoneyMustard/Raspberry Vinagrette/Thousand Island, ground pepper/cracked pepper/whole pepper, iodized salt/non-iodized salt/sea salt/kosher salt. Even the greens for tossed salad (along with other options) are placed on the table separately because there is always something that someone “can’t” eat- ice berg lettuce/curly leaf lettuce/red-tip lettuce/bib letter/romaine lettuce/baby spinach/arugula/and other assorted greens along with whatever you can imagine in a tossed salad. It’s a wonder there’s room for the main dish (es!) And, of course, desserts have to accommodate the varied dietary demands. It’s no wonder we almost always “dine” buffet style these days. I’ve tried just laying on the spread but the whole meal someone is jumping up or asking someone to jump up and get something from the pantry or the refrigerator. Am I grousing? – You betcha! Is anyone listening? – not a soul!

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    I have never heard it called spread the table but from the looks of it I could get used to it really quickly. I would need a cot or a couch near by. Looks amazing.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    July 23, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    I spy a pie!!!!

  • Reply
    Julie Hughes
    July 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

    We used to set the table at my Granny’s house. It looks good to me. I think I could founder myself.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 11:33 am

    Way back yonder when my girls was
    still at home, we spread the table
    too. Matter of fact, our table
    chairs were just like those at your setting. It’s amazing at how folks think alike, especially here in the Appalachian mountains. I recon it’s just handed down thru most of the generations that gave us our home.
    Nowadays I just leave everything in the pan and dip me out some.
    (in a throw away plate)…Ken

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    July 23, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Speaking of ‘spreading the table’ I somehow missed out on that expression when I was growing up in the Matheson Cove. But this past weekend we went OVERBOARD on that activity attending wonderful family REUNIONS in Union County, GA and Jackson County, NC! Now I must work a long time to work off the calories!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 9:33 am

    That looks very inviting. Most of the time it is just me and my husband and I don’t go to the trouble of setting the table. When my daughter and her family or other people come for dinner I definitely spread the table. My mother always spread the table usually 3 times a day.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 9:33 am

    I have not heard that term, but I do put the food on the table before we sit to eat. I like the use of ‘spread the table.’

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    July 23, 2013 at 9:11 am

    Miss Cindy beat me to the comment!
    What a fine spread!
    I remember helping with dinner, (that is the meal, usually with guests served about 1:00 PM, supper is later in the evening) and I was told to spread the table, which meant to spread the table cloth, put out the napkins, and place the silverware and glassware! The second spread (food)was brought from the kitchen and placed on the hot plate holders. Don’t forget the sliced butter, salt and pepper on both ends of the table! Pour the tea and call in the guests!
    My uncle usually was the one that said as he arrived at the table to my Mother! You’ve gone and done it again sister, “What a spread!” You didn’t have to go that much trouble, as he enjoyed every bite!
    Thanks Tipper for the memory!
    PS…Sorry to say we don’t “spread the table” like we used to…mainly holidays and gettogethers nowadays!

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

    It has been years since I’ve heard spread the table. I think Mom said that instead of put the food on the table. When I was growing up, we would spread the table twice a day and everyone ate at the same time. Lunch was usually something left over from breakfast or a piece of fruit from our trees.

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    July 23, 2013 at 8:39 am

    I too was raised in a home where the table was spread three times a day, breakfast, dinner & supper. The whole family sat down and ate together while discussing everything going on with the family. I hate to admit that this only happens now on special occasions. I think that the TV and TV Tray plus the accelerated lifestyles of the poor & unknown are mainly responsible for this and has contributed greatly to the change of the families even here in Appalachia. Another change is the way we eat, we ate what was spread on the table while today’s youth want to order from a menu, had I tried this I would have been told to eat what was present or go hungry. Sadly in our efforts to “Make things better for our children” we have contributed to the breakdown of our Appalachain family units.

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    July 23, 2013 at 8:07 am

    Yes, I know the term well. That is a nice spread on your table and and all I have to say is; what time is supper?

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 23, 2013 at 7:55 am

    Only at Holidays anymore. Then we spill out all over the house and even outside if it isn’t too cold or wet.

  • Reply
    July 23, 2013 at 7:48 am

    Is that a lazy Susan in the middle of the table? I’ll just pull my chair up here at the corner, is that okay?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 23, 2013 at 6:40 am

    That is a fine spread, indeed! I bet I can tell you what is in some of those bowls….The upper right corner is probably(homemade) bread , the lower right corner is probably potato salad (made with your homemade sweet 14 day pickles},and that big bowl in the middle is probably deer meat (killed and cooked by the Deer Hunter and slow cooked over night with some vinegar,
    peppers, and assorted spices). How did I do Tipper? Now that the table is spread, I’ll be right over. I just love a spread like that!

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