Tableware

Tableware

/ˈteɪb(ə)lwɛː/

noun

  1. Crockery, cutlery, and glassware used for serving and eating meals at a table.

 

//

Tableware.jpg

 

//

 

'Tableware is the font through which food is expressed.'...

...is quite possibly the most pretentious and hard to stomach sentence I’ve ever uttered about dining. That being said, I don’t think that it is simply pretension for pretension’s sake, nor do I think it’s needless over-intellectualisation. I think that if we view food, and the setting in which it is consumed, through this lens we can achieve a purer understanding of what it is we eat and a greater appreciation of the myriad of minutia surrounding a meal that contribute to our overall experience.

To channel the idea in it’s purest form, try to imagine a written word without a font. Whilst I realise this may come across as an absurd thought experiment, upon engaging with it, it becomes clear that is simply not possible. The abstract idea behind a word needs some form of physical  constraint to be conveyed - be that visually through the means of a font, or verbally*.

As soon as the physical constraint is formed around the idea, it becomes indelibly linked with it and will influence and alter the perceived meaning of the original abstract.

Which is why, this feels different to this.

Or to provide an example which has become somewhat of a meme recently:

This (1.) :

main-qimg-4ae9a8662d71ad444b5d3e196637b635.png

Feels very different to this (2.) :

tumblr_nj3ojyUzNV1sg49umo1_500.gif

I understand that I am comparing two different mediums, but I feel it conveys the point well.

To add credence to this, there is a substantial body of evidence to suggest that font choice has an effect on emotional state, comprehension and perception. Font research is predominantly used for marketing and user experience design purposes. (3. 4.)

It is pertinent at this point to define what I mean by ‘tableware’. I do not simply mean the plates and cutlery used. The ambiance, the setting, the smells - everything which provides context, either directly or indirectly, to the meal. Anything which if altered would in turn alter the experience.

The simplest way to understand this is the paradox of fizzy drinks in glass bottles. Producers claim that there is no difference in the product between various packaging forms. If there was truly no difference, then why would redundant packaging options be offered? Surely it would be more economical for producers to reduce to the smallest number of product lines.

The virtue of glass bottles continuing to exist within the marketplace alongside cheaper alternatives proves that there must be a difference which offers the consumer extra value on the base product.

The difference in packaging - ‘font’ - from aluminium can to glass bottle provides a difference in perception of the product valuable enough to pay extra for. 

From this example, it becomes quite clear how additional contextual points can inform and affect a dining experience. Was the steak served on a plate or a board? Did the fork have 4 prongs or 3? Did the restaurant have good lighting?

I do realise that listing every part of an experience down to the atomic level is reductive and not altogether helpful, but to have a thoughtful, wholistic and mindful attitude toward the entire experience not only increases our enjoyment but increases our appreciation. Once we start think about how the shape and colour of a plate (7.) can change how we experience flavour, it is inevitable that we begin to think about food on a more respectful level.

To some extent I think that tableware has always existed as a way to increase our appreciation of food and to encourage our contemplation of it. Japanese culture historically connects food, restaurant and tableware. (8.)

 

“…Japanese tableware also comes with certain expectations and purposes in regards to its uses. One of the most important expectations is that of the attitude or mindset one must have when preparing tableware and food for others. One must keep in mind that the appreciation and memorable experience the eater has, especially that of a guest, is paramount to even the taste of the food. But how does one surpass taste when it comes to an appetizing meal? According to Japanese culture, making—and recognizing—effort, consideration, creativity, appeal, and aesthetic value as important as taste is essential to a pleasurable meal.” (9.)

 

At worst, tableware can be ambivalent to the food it presents, depreciating it through thoughtless vapidity. At best, careful choice and manipulation of context can provide a truly transformative dining experience.

Either way it is unmistakable that tableware, like font, has a real and meaningful effect on what it is used to convey. So perhaps we shouldn’t criticise too heavily when a restaurant tries to make us see a dish in a new way by changing its orientation. - I’m looking at you /r/wewantplates (10.)

tempura-shoe.jpg

Ok. Well. (11.)

I guess healthy skepticism is never a bad thing.

 

//

 

*For the sake of simplicity I haven’t really addressed spoken word. For the purpose of this argument a font or the changeable verbal cadence of spoken language are functionally equivalent.

**Whilst there is some evidence (5. 6.) to suggest that there is a chemical difference between packaging, I suspect that this is negligible when compared with the effect perception has on flavour.

 

//

 

  1. Dumbledore Written
  2. Dumbledore Gif
  3. Fonts & Feelings: Does Typography Connote Emotions?
  4. The Effect of Typography on User Experience & Conversions
  5. Why Does Coke From a Glass Bottle Taste Different?
  6. Does Soda Taste Different in a Bottle Than a Can?
  7. Plate shape and colour interact to influence taste and quality judgments | Flavour | Full Text
  8. Tableware - Wikipedia
  9. The Principles of Japanese Tableware
  10. We Want Plates
  11. Vegetable tempura in a shoe - We Want Plates

Survive

Survive

/səˈvʌɪv/

verb

verb: survive; 3rd person present: survives; past tense: survived; past participle: survived; gerund or present participle: surviving

  1. continue to live or exist, especially in spite of danger or hardship.

    "against all odds the child survived"

    synonyms:remain alive, live, sustain oneself, cling to life, pull through, get through, hold on, hold out, make it, keep body and soul together More

    • continue to live or exist in spite of (an accident or ordeal).

      "he has survived several assassination attempts"

    • remain alive after the death of (a particular person).

      "he was survived by his wife and six children"

      synonyms:outlive, outlast, live (on) after, live longer than, remain alive after

      "he was survived by Alice and their six sons"

    • manage to keep going in difficult circumstances.

      "she had to work day and night and survive on two hours' sleep"

 

//

 

SURVIVE_edited-1.jpg

 

//

 

"There is only one god, and His name is Death. And there is only one thing we say to Death: 'not today'." - Syrio Forel to Arya Stark, Game of Thrones

I was going to die today.

Not because anything happened. Or because I lost all my money on a bet. Or because my wife left me for the milkman and took the kids. Or because my house burned down.

But I woke up and thought, today is the day that the pain has overcome the fear of death.  The balance sheet doesn’t work out anymore.  It’s ticked over into emotional overdraft.

It’s a point that has been laboured a thousand times by people far more eloquent than me. But depression isn’t just sadness. Its not this temporary state which exists as the opposite of joy. And its different for everyone.

For me its like I am no longer really in the world. 

Like I’m separate and just operating my body like some kind of flesh automaton. A human puppet that only has the visage of a person. 

I see the world through muted sepia tones and the only reminder of emotion to accent the emptiness are the flashes of pain and dread and despair.

I repeat my own name under my breath like the thud of a paramedics fist on a dying man’s chest. Trying desperately to drag myself back into the present. Into reality.

Because for me, when I’m like this, none of it is real. The universe is just happening and I’m outside of it. Watching through a dirty stained glass window.

And today I wanted to break the shackle chaining me to my body. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to be alive. 

Which is important to note. Because being suicidal isn’t a lust for death. Its a longing to cure the disease rampant in your mind with the only tools you see available.

But I didn’t die.

I didn’t eat a peanut butter KitKat chunky and think, “Fuck me, this whole life thing isn’t so bad eh? There are puppies and daffodils and stuff. Let’s not smash in 50 tablets of Dihydrocodeine and walk into a lake today. I’m bloody well cured.”

I polished my boots.

Because when your brain is on fire you just have to solve the problem in front of you.

I can’t die today because I need to polish my boots.

I can’t die today because I need to clean the kitchen.

I can’t die today because of a million other tiny tasks that need to be completed.

If you find enough things to do you can make it through to the next day, then the next week, month, year, decade.

Because slowly, you start to realise that none of the tasks that you were completing would have been completed if you hadn’t completed them.

You had an effect. You matter. You’re… real.

And the people who love you, they’re real too.

And the colours you haven’t seen in forever.

And the puppies and the daffodils and the fucking peanut butter KitKats.

All real.

So if you are going to die today, polish your boots.

Words

Word

/wəːd/

noun

plural noun: words

  1. a single distinct meaningful element of speech or writing, used with others (or sometimes alone) to form a sentence and typically shown with a space on either side when written or printed.

    "I don't like the word ‘unofficial’"

verb

3rd person present: words

  1. express (something spoken or written) in particular words.

    "he words his request in a particularly ironic way"

 

//

 

Words_edited-1.jpg

 

 

//

 

‘“Hang on to the words,” he tells himself. The odd words, the old words, the rare ones. Valence. Norn. Serendipity. Pibroch. Lubricious. When they’ve gone out of his head, these words, they’ll be gone, everywhere, forever. As if they had never been.’ - Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake

A lot like Snowman from Oryx and Crake, I’ve always had a thing about words. 

It might be because I have an obsessive relationship with the way they sound and how they make me feel. It might be that I have always viewed myself as less of a person and more of a collection of phrases that I manipulate into forming a cohesive visage of a person. Maybe I just talk too much.

But I have always thought that words are important. They are ethereal and strange and maddening. They make us feel emotions we weren’t feeling and entertain ideas we hadn’t considered.

Not even just important. Magic. Psychic.

Steven King phrases this point far better than I ever could in his brilliant description in On Writing:

'We’ve engaged in an act of telepathy. No mythy-mountain shit; real telepathy.'

There is far more to it than that, so I would recommend reading the whole thing if you have a free afternoon and a hankering for non fiction.

But I do think it illustrates, very succinctly, the main character of words that offers them such reverence in the pantheon of the human condition.

Their lack of consent.

Words - spoken, or read, or tweeted, as graffiti or advertisement, novel or scrawl on the back of a toilet door - never asked for permission. They enter your mind and immediately form themselves into thought, distinct and separate from the medium and creator that they came from.

That is what gives them their power. 

I feel that people use words flippantly, without care. Throwing them around like lexical confetti. Saying things that hurt. Implying emotions that aren’t there. Forcing people toward extremes to be heard above the caterwauls of syllables.

I’m not calling for people to talk less.

I’m asking people to think more.

Your voice and your words are the most compelling and dangerous tools at your disposal. Use them gently, thoughtfully and kindly.

'Don't gobblefunk around with words.'  - Roald Dahl, The BFG