It Tastes Better in the Right Bowl

The Osages drank beverages from a cup without handles, essentially making it a bowl.

Some things just taste better in the right bowl.

This morning I fixed steel-cut oats for breakfast and looked for Just The Right Bowl in my cupboard. My bowls, cups and plates are brightly colored California ware I began collecting before my children were born. I’d comb through thrift stores for the Fifties-era crockery labeled Hall and Bauer, Fiesta and Poppytrail, and bring home orange butter dishes and pink tea cups.

One day my step-daughter told her father she looked forward to the day when we could afford dinner ware in the same color and model. My crockery lasted longer than the marriage.

What I love is the difference in design, and pairing a turquoise cream pitcher with a yellow salt shaker. The table at holiday feasts is a bounty of color.

Sometimes a plate gets a chip or a handle gets broken, but I would rather use the antiques than have them sit on a shelf. When I poke around thrift stores in town, I figure it’s my duty to rescue saucers or bowls that bear the California ware ancestry.

I grew up in a household with six kids and all our cups, bowls and glasses were made from plastic, a tribute to my mother’s practical nature. Besides, we moved from California to Iran then England then Holland then back to the Middle East then back to Europe. Plastic ware sustained us and made moving much easier.

Problem is I can’t stand eating from plastic and have weighted my cupboards with dishes no one seems to want any more. Except me. While the plastic seemed temporary, the California ware, even with chips and mis-matched cups and saucers, makes me feel more traditional.

Kind of like drinking from a bowl.


About Cynthia Coleman Emery

Professor and researcher at Portland State University who studies science communication, particularly issues that impact American Indians. Dr. Coleman is an enrolled citizen of the Osage Nation.
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