There was a lot of fascination with foods from far away places a hundred year ago. It may seem presumptuous today, but back then people believed that the world was getting smaller, and there was interest in how people served foods in other countries.
Tea houses were very popular in the United States in the early 1900’s, and it was widely believed that the Japanese knew how to serve tea and other foods very elegantly and gracefully.
Here is the description of how to create a “Japanese” tablescape in a hundred-year-old magazine:
A Japanese table, exquisitely dainty and unpretentious, is that decorated with day lilies. It is laid with a snowy crash runner, and has crash plate doilies. The shallow white center flower bowl contains four claw feet holders, and from these, tall spikes of the white lilies rear their fragile heads above their own bloom. Note the arrangement at the base, and observe how the lily leaves are clustered to form pads, thus accentuating the green and white effect against the snowy background.
A white marble statue of Buddha at each end of the center receptacle under the shelter of a tall lily boom, reminds one of Sir Edin Arnold’s lines to the Great Lord Buddha:
“The dew is on the lotus,
Rise great Sun!”
Blue and white Canton dishes add the final note of color to this dainty luncheon table.
American Cookery (November, 1916)
When I read this description, “crash runner” and “crash doilies” made no sense to me, so I looked up “crash” in the online Free Dictionary, and found that crash is a type of cloth:
Crash: A coarse, light, unevenly woven fabric of cotton or linen, used for towels and curtains.