Affluent Victorians had serving dishes made of porcelain, silver, and bone china for every meal. Consider Edward VII while he was Prince of Wales. Dinner at his Sandringham estate could include at least two soups, whole salmon and turbots, mutton and sirloins of beef, roast turkeys, game, lots of vegetables, devilled herring and cream cheese, pastries, cheese, lots of wines, nuts and preserved fruits followed by port, Madeira or sherry. Every item had its own serving dish.
Tureens and Other Bowls
Tureens --oval bowls with handles and lids -- came in many sizes. Some were small enough to hold a single serving of peas, while others were big enough to hold soup for 24 guests. They could be extremely ornate, with beautiful handles fashioned after vines and knobs on the lids fashioned after real and imagined beasts, seashells and flowers. A tureen specialised for soup was called a soupiere. Bowls for vegetables also came with decorative handles, although generally they were simpler than tureens.
Salad Bowls, Butter Dishes
Victorians enjoyed oval salad bowls and oval butter dishes. There were radish dishes and asparagus dishes that held both the vegetable and the melted butter it was dipped in. Ragout could be served out of scalloped-edged ragout dishes, mustard out of mustard pots, porridge out of porringers.
Sweetmeat dishes had many purposes, but they were mostly for mixing sauces at the table or holding the ingredients for sauces. Often made of silver, they were decorated with birds and flowers.
Salvers, Waiters, Trays
Salvers and waiters were trays. They were hard to make and were prized. Waiters were no larger than 9 inches around, salvers could be twice as large and trays were even larger. Trays traditionally had no handles or feet.
Ceramic dishes were made for display until around 1720. Before that, people ate out of wooden plates. Dishes for meat sometimes had ribbed channels to hold gravy.
For serving dessert, there were strawberry dishes and footed compotes. Compotes were especially popular in the United States.
Casserole is a French word for a cooking pot that was also used to serve the food it had cooked. During the Victorian era, beautiful silver and glass casseroles were put over a hot water bath to keep food warm.
Ecuelles and Epergnes
Ecuelles were round bowls with two lug handles. A mazarine was a plate used to serve fish. It was pierced to allow juices to drain.
Epergnes were often extremely beautiful, made of precious metals with removable crystal bowls that served fruits, nuts and sweetmeats.
Manufacturers of Serving Dishes
Companies and artisans who created these dishes included, among others, Wedgwood, Ridgway, Minton, Darby, Coalport and Sevres.
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