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Does "set the table" also imply "to put food on the table before serving a meal" or just "to put plates, forks, spoons, knives, etc without food on the table"?

I did some research and it seems like "not including food"

But then “if you don’t put food on the table”, then how do you eat?

Do we have to say “set the table and then set food on the table for dinner”?

In Asia, people in a family share food, they don’t divide food into portions.

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"Setting the table" means laying out the plates and utensils. It might also include setting out the table cloth, setting out any center piece to be used, etc., depending on the formality of the meal being prepared for. It does not include bringing food to the table.

The act of bringing the food to the table is called "serving the meal".

Do we have to say “set the table and then set food on the table for dinner”?

You can say, "set the table and then serve dinner".

In Asia, people in a family share food, they don’t divide food into portions.

English idioms are generally geared toward the cultural practices of the English speaking world, rather than to the practices in Asia, so this fact does not bear strongly on how the preparations for a meal are described in English. Indian English likely has idioms suitable for the practices in South Asia, but these may also be quite different from what's done in East Asia.

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  • +1, good answer. For more context, there are two general ways of going about this: One could pre-set empty plates on the table, then bring out the pot with the food in it (or a special serving dish) and divide up the portions at the table. Or the plates could be left in the kitchen and filled there to be brought to table. In either case it is likely that utensils, etc, will be "set" first, and actually bringing the food is called "serving the meal." – randomhead Apr 19 at 4:11

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