The bowls of the hearth
May 31, 2018 6:41 PM   Subscribe

The tableware we use influences the way we experience the food we eat. When we sit down to a meal, says Professor Charles Spence,…our brain forms a basic set of expectations about how it will taste and how satisfying it will be.…A bowl that we pick up and touch is more likely to set an expectation of a hearty, filling and healthy meal, he said. “That weight in the hand is likely to make your brain think the food is more substantial and you’re likely to rate it as more intensely fragranced and aromatic than for exactly the same food sat passively on a plate,” Spence explained.

And bowl food is acceptable at royal weddings.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (26 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
ramen

pho

chipotle bowl

poke
posted by vs at 6:56 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bowls meant mixing foods—which was not how eating was to be done.
I deeply do not get this. It isn't as if eating off a plate completely prevents food mixing -- not unless you have tiny bits of food on a big plate, which is just as doable with tiny bits of food in a big bowl I suppose. I often sort and eat components of my food separately, to a casual/not overly fussy extent -- even when it's meant to be eaten together, like stir fries -- and I have never felt that bowls were at all an obstacle to this habit of mine.

I'd always assumed the predominance of plates in ?Western cuisine was due to giving everyone big slabs of meat that they were supposed to cut up with a table knife, necessitating a flat surface on which to do so -- but I suppose that's as much a just-so story of a guess as anything else.
posted by inconstant at 7:06 PM on May 31, 2018 [5 favorites]


I always feel a bit weirded out when something quite standard and traditional in my culture suddenly becomes hip. Waiting for the next big innovation where a group of people order multiple dishes, and then custom-assemble the food in their personal bowl of rice over the meal.
posted by destrius at 7:08 PM on May 31, 2018 [19 favorites]


Also, the plate vs bowl thing is actually reversed over here (in Singapore and probably other parts of Southeast Asia). Cheap food often comes in a plate, and is eaten with a fork and spoon. It's in higher-end restaurants where your rice comes in a bowl and the other dishes separate. But yet, most people eat rice from bowls at home. I'd actually chalk this up to how plates are far more efficient to wash en masse in a dishwasher, compared to bowls.
posted by destrius at 7:14 PM on May 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


I was taken aback by this from the first episode of the current season of Below Deck, "Why is this in a bowl? My dog eats food like this". It had never crossed my mind to equate the two.
posted by unliteral at 7:58 PM on May 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


Come to my suddenly hip Anglo kitchen in Suburban Australia, where I eat nearly everything I cook from a bowl.
posted by solarion at 7:59 PM on May 31, 2018 [6 favorites]


im so tired of white people. someone please stop us.
posted by odinsdream at 8:04 PM on May 31, 2018 [16 favorites]


Mrs. W. and I eat basically everything from bowls because I am a lazy cook who specializes in one-pot or -pan dishes. Our standard supper dish is the Mikasa 10" Round Vegetable Bowl, which most people would call a serving bowl, probably.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:10 PM on May 31, 2018


You forgot this previously. (self-link) 🍜🍚
posted by vespabelle at 9:23 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Mrs. W. and I eat basically everything from bowls because I am a lazy cook who specializes in one-pot or -pan dishes.

heatherlogan and I eat basically everything from bowls because we are lazy cooks who specialize in one-pot or -pan dishes.

And because we took two pottery classes at our local community centre.
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:13 PM on May 31, 2018 [6 favorites]


Plates don't prevent food from mixing, but they also don't provide walls that make for easy mixing. e.g. it is easier to toss a salad in a bowl than on a platter. Plates also give you more flat surface to separate the components of your food.
posted by batter_my_heart at 10:15 PM on May 31, 2018


Surely bowls of the hearth are tastier than the bowels of the earth.
posted by fairmettle at 10:49 PM on May 31, 2018 [4 favorites]


Plates also give you more flat surface to separate the components of your food.

They also help prevent whisker fatigue! (Assuming it's real.)
posted by sebastienbailard at 10:54 PM on May 31, 2018 [2 favorites]


The handle on a porringer makes it even easier to eat from.
posted by clew at 11:12 PM on May 31, 2018 [1 favorite]


Most vegan dishes are bowl food. I mean, I never quite realized it until I noticed that my dinner plates don’t make much of an appearance. But grain/veg/protein tends to be best in a bowl.
posted by Kitteh at 12:03 AM on June 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Ingredient size/cooking style are key. Smaller/multiple ingredients, with coating sauces, are better here. Even though I care about bowl food presentation, after serving, I just go right ahead and mix it up. I'm sure that combination creates new flavours and aromas that you would not get on a plate.

I'm not sure what this article is really finding to be innovative here. But I could overthink a bowl of beans ...
posted by carter at 3:49 AM on June 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


My people have eaten out of these almost suspiciously inexpensive (yet quite durable) woven wooden bowls since time immemorial. Also, these similarly inexpensive yet aesthetically pleasing blue and white rice bowls. Everything actually does taste better in bowls.

As someone who grew up in a bowl-using culture, I remain deeply offended when someone expects me to eat something off a *plate* - especially, God forbid, a paper one - without a table to support it. Can anyone eat anything off a plate balanced on their lap without staining some valued piece of clothing?

I also believe that people who serve salad on plates are evil. That’s how you get floor salad.

Addendum: does anyone remember the very early 2000s “counter service restaurants with stuff in bowls” trend? I feel like we’ve been down this road before WRT “restaurants trying to make a perfectly ordinary part of non-middle-American food culture hip and groovy” before.
posted by faineg at 4:26 AM on June 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I also believe that people who serve salad on plates are evil. That’s how you get floor salad.

Hah! I eat salad out of bowls, with chopsticks.
posted by carter at 5:14 AM on June 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


For most of these kinds of "bowl meals" I actually prefer the far more versatile soup plate. Shallow enough to allow a knife in to cut food if needed, deep enough to hold lots of sauce or broth.
posted by backseatpilot at 6:15 AM on June 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Bowl food was apparently selected for the royal wedding so that the reception could be a standing rather than seated affair. “The idea behind a bowl food menu is so guests can stay standing up and mingle while they eat. It has been described by caterers as an option which allows guests to ‘keep on talking.’”

What are you supposed to do with your drink while you're standing around eating out of a bowl?

Also, I'm disappointed to find out that all royal dinner affairs don't feature roast swan.
posted by rocket88 at 8:05 AM on June 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


What are you supposed to do with your drink while you're standing around eating out of a bowl?
The beer helmet is the stadium solution. The flask that slides back into a jacket pocket is the uncouth wedding solution. According to the weddings I've been to recently, those tiny, useless, bar height tables that are only large enough for 3 drinks but not to put bowls or plates on are the acceptable wedding solution.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:49 AM on June 1, 2018


I also believe that people who serve salad on plates are evil. That’s how you get floor salad.

Hah! I eat salad out of bowls, with chopsticks.


Yes!!! Chopsticks are the best implements for salad! Forks are a distant second.

Salads are bite size pieces in sauce, the very medium that’s perfect for chopsticks.
posted by leotrotsky at 6:18 PM on June 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Forks aren't even second imo, they're just such terrible implements for picking up bits of raw leafy vegetable. Second would be a pair of tongs or something maybe? It's some kind of cruel irony that the culinary culture of "vegetables = salad" also is the culinary culture of forks.
posted by inconstant at 9:04 PM on June 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


And because we took two pottery classes at our local community centre.

Last night we ate pizza out of bowls. It may have been suboptimal.
posted by heatherlogan at 4:50 PM on June 2, 2018


There is no non-optimal way to eat pizza. The very act of consuming it makes all things right.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 8:20 PM on June 2, 2018 [1 favorite]


We theorize that a wider, flat-bottomed bowl with a low brim would make it easier.
posted by sebastienbailard at 8:32 PM on June 2, 2018 [2 favorites]


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