Controversy rages over what shape of plate food should be served on: Square plates are an ‘abomination’ according to a report about MasterChef judge William Sitwell’s view in the Telegraph. Apparently Mr Sitwell is to hold a ‘Square Plate’ amnesty at the Towcester Food Festival on the 7th and 8th of June 2014. He doesn’t plan to destroy them Greek style. He’s going to give them to charity. This means they will still be in circulation and may be re-used. I can’t really stand a round plant pot on a square plate can you?
The square plate issue came to light in the BBC MasterChef competition when Mr Sitwell (a judge by invitation) made it clear he didn’t like a contestant’s food because it was served on a square plate. He is of the opinion that a square plate suggests a chef using one raises presentation above flavour.
Issues With Square Plates
I have to say I don’t find myself at odds with Mr Sitwell’s feelings about square plates but my concern is on a practical level. I like to be able to turn a plate of food around to face me so I can approach it with my knife and fork in the best way without making a mess.
Getting In A Mess When Dining Out
I hate it when food is presented to me in a way where I will get in a mess while eating it. I don’t want food that:
- drips onto my clothing while I eat it.
- flicks liquid (sauce) when it unwinds from my fork.
- can’t be picked up by a fork because it is in fine strands.
Examples of these three issues are:
- Overfilled sandwiches. (Yes they have to be picked up.)
- Spaghetti of course.
- Shredded leaves.
I don’t mind occasionally picking up dry food like bread or cake but I don’t want to gnaw meat off bones. I prefer the meat to fall off the bone so I can pick it up with a fork.
Back to the subject of Square Plates
What I said above about turning a plate around might be anathema to some chefs. Particularly those who choose to present plates of food to diners so they face them in a particular way.
With fine dining of the nouvelle cuisine style reaching all areas of the country more thought is being put into dish design. I accept that these chefs design dishes to be presented to diners facing a particular direction. However I doubt they know the handedness of diners which can affect their approach to the plate. Chefs need to know that so they can present plates appropriately to right or left-handed people.
When plates are piled high I like to decide which way I want them to face. I will turn them until they are in a good position to commence eating. It’s much safer to turn the plate than reach over a mountain in the middle to cut something on the other side. You can’t do that easily with square or rectangular plates.
Square or rectangular plates must make the waiter’s task easier. They definitely cut down the number of ways a plate can be presented.
Rectangular or oval plates are worse than square plates. You can turn them through 180° or not at all. Worse still they are usually too wide for the place setting. The set cutlery has to be moved apart by me the diner when the plate arrives or it is placed overlapping the cutlery. Then where does the side plate go?
I’m sure most plates are pressed in a mould these days. Perhaps we shouldn’t eat off anything that couldn’t be made on a traditional potters wheel.