Dishes to make food most attractive (1921)

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1921 bowls of fruits


Dishes to make food most attractive

by Marion Brownfield

We hear a great deal about “the psychology” of this, that and the other. The psychology of color is a favorite topic for the psychologist as well as the interior decorator, for it is recognized that cheer and content — such essential home virtues — are very largely influenced by pleasant color combinations.

Royal Doulton blue plate from 1921On the table, the effect of color has doubtless an influence upon the appetite. Not only serving foods daintily in dishes that set it off to best advantage encourages appetite and good digestion, but stimulates jaded palates.

Change from sheer monotony indeed is what makes other people’s cooking — no better than ours — taste good. Different tableware, too, makes food seem to have a different flavor.

So a variety of dishes, used for a change with the same recipe, makes a difference that is unconsciously transferred to the enjoyment of the food itself. For this reason, a little study in serving foods in dishes that by color contrast or harmony, set them off, really pays the thoughtful housewife.

ladies home journal 1921 bowl

Dish colors

Some suggestions for different foods in dishes of different colors follow. Blue dishes, of which every household is pretty sure to have some, set off particularly anything yellow in hue. Thus oranges, apples (yellow or red), eggs, Hubbard squash and such yellow foods as cornbread, cornstarch pudding and custards all look delightful in blue dishes. Red foods also look well, but have more contrast with green ware, so will be spoken of farther along.

White dishes with gold bands have a pleasing delicacy and are therefore suitable for dainty effects. Crisp blanched lettuce, watercress, pineapple and watermelon are appetizing served in them. Foods of strong flavor sometimes need a simple background, also. Onions, fish and wieners, for this reason, may be palatable in these dishes.

Yellow dishes which may be banded, flowered or plain, offer a great opportunity for a cheerful effect. Foods that have no great charm of color themselves look well in yellow. Thus a steak, chops or hash gain a certain richness in these dishes. Macaroni — a colorless food, unless combined with tomato — gains character in a yellow dish. Chocolate recipes make an effective contrast, also, while purple foods such as grapes, blackberries and plums, either fresh or in sauce, go effectively in yellow dishes.

saturday evening girls plate

Macaroni — a colorless food, unless combined with tomato — gains character in a yellow dish. Chocolate recipes make an effective contrast, also, while purple foods such as grapes, blackberries and plums, either fresh or in sauce, go effectively in yellow dishes.

Red foods contrast strikingly in green dishes of which there are many designs. Banded, flowered or the delicately solid pale green Seiji ware are a few of the artistic varieties of greenware. Beets, salmon, strawberries, raspberries, cherries, gelatines, desserts, frosted cakes and ice cream look invitingly cool in green for summer service.

Pink dishes should be reserved for white foods. Among these are cereals of all kinds, mashed or riced potatoes, white cakes, plain or frosted, vanilla ice cream and white desserts such as rice Rebecca, pudding, junket and so forth.

Red dishes of Japanese design may effectively hold green foods such as green peppers, cucumbers, string beans, peas. They also add character to colorless foods. And strawberries make a pleasing all-red effect in them that seems to add lusciousness to the berries.

The very colorful dishes, of which every one has a few, are often just the thing to make certain foods tempting. Chocolate, lemon gelatin and white foods should be tried in these dishes for pleasure.

Of course a great deal depends upon the season both as to food and dishes. In general, brighter colored dishes are more cheerful in winter, and daintier hues are more enjoyable in hot weather.

noritake paisley plate 1921

Colorful glassware

Glassware, especially, is attractive for the summer table as it is so cool-looking. Even cocoa, coffee and desserts can be contrived to be served in glassware. The plain puddings of rice or bread, indeed, garnished with fruit or jelly, or accompanied by sauce, look far more attractive served in glass punch-cups or sundae glasses, than in the usual saucers.

Glass saucers, however, are useful for cereal, fruit and even salad. Prunes in gold-banded goblets of glass, topped with whipped cream or marshmallow, are very alluring, while all fruits, ices and gelatines look refreshing in glassware.

The large variety of glassware manufactured nowadays, from cooking ware to the exquisite Venetian glass designed for beverages, fruit, bonbons, finger bowls and flowers, makes it possible to serve practically everything in glassware if so desired. Pie and casserole recipes can, indeed, be served right from the oven to the table. And as glass is often reserved for company use only, why not surprise the family occasionally with a pleasing change?

Instead of serving strawberries, halved peaches and figs in saucers, try serving them next time on small bread-and-butter plates that contrast effectively — adding a sprinkling of powdered sugar and a green leaf as a garnish.

Cake, cookies, doughnuts, sandwiches and breads of all kinds as well as fruit and nuts are good to look upon in a basket. And here variety also is possible. A paper doily is sufficient protection and saves dish washing.

1921 dinner party

Plates on right (from top): Doulton Watteau pattern dinner plate in blue, 1921; Saturday Evening Girls dinner plate in yellow, 1921; Noritake Paisley pattern Luncheon plate, 1921.

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