Friday 14 September 2007

Dinner is Served

Imagine a romantic dinner for two, candle light, fine wine and excellent food. Now imagine it served on paper plates and plastic cups. The point being that the vessels in which food is served are vital to the enjoyment of the meal.

A dinner plate, for example, is not just a flat thing to chuck food on. Yes, it needs a flat surface so that the cuisine can be displayed on it, but it also needs depth so that any liquids don't just run off.

The rim becomes a frame, I add a feather mark being blown around the edge of the plate, and the change of direction leading up to it assists in the mechanics of getting the food onto your eating implements. The rim rises above the table so that the plate can be lifted and carried easily.

Glaze colour helps to frame and compliment the food, sometimes adding contrast, sometimes harmony. The surface must be smooth and flat so that knives and forks can be used without unpleasant grating on rough textures, clattering on throwing rings or screeching across glassy surfaces. The total effect my not be so obtrusive as to take away from the food itself.

Nor is it merely the upper surface that must be considered. Stability is determined by the breadth of the foot ring and the total weight of the plate. The foot ring must be smooth so as not to scratch your lovely antique dining table, and the underside needs to be glazed for easy washing. It must fit in you dish rack and be easy to pick up, even if it is wet and upside down.

I include a double foot ring to eliminate warpage during firing, and decorate the outer area with chattering, while signing the centre with my initials, EC.

A stamp on the outside of the foot ring marks the work as mine, and the wild boar stamp beside it identifies it as being made in 2007, the year of the boar. Finally it must stack in the cupboard without taking too much space, and be durable enough for everyday use.

All of these considerations and more go into the design of the humble dinner plate. Of course the food you serve and the company with whom you enjoy it are the most crucial factor in the making of a dinner plate, whether in your own home or at your favorite restaurant. Whether it is a Chinese banquet, or pasta made with fresh tomatoes, eggplant and rosemary from the garden.

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