FAIRY TALE FEASTS: Dishes for dishes
A thought came to me the other day. Chinese cooking isn't only about food, it's also about dishware.
I was attending a Chinese banquet, so all the courses arrived on Chinese dishware. I'm sure that subconsciously, that added to my enjoyment of the meal.
At home, my partner complains about the old, mismatched Chinese dishware like the heavy soup bowls that I won't toss out.
Once, at a garage sale, I shouted with delight to find green porcelain bowls that I recalled from my childhood. Bigger than rice bowls but smaller than soup tureens, these "green-bean clear bowls" 绿豆清碗 were a standard measurement in herbal medicine prescriptions.
In my childhood, we used chopsticks and porcelain spoons, and the food was served in Chinese dishware. The ricebowls had a pattern dotted with translucent rice grains to signify that the bowls never went empty. The serving dishes featured a fish design, to show that the plate remained laden even after the food was devoured. The rice bowls and soup tureens had sturdy rims on the bottom, so that while they were brimming with hot contents, you could move one around or bring it to your mouth without scorching your fingers.
My aunt insisted that we use ivory chopsticks (now banned, thankfully), saying that if the food was poisoned, then the tips of those chopsticks would turn black!
I always marvel at the one item that the restaurants use that we never had at home. Rests for chopsticks.
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