There is an old 7-inch brown stoneware bowl that perpetually sits in the dish drainer. It’s called a “drip bowl,” but everyone will recognize it as one of the bowls Grandma used to have in her house, and would fill it with mashed potatoes, gravy or soup for the whole family.
I’m not sure how old this particular bowl is, but the Hull Company started producing them in 1905. Most of the bowls and its brothers and sisters, as well as cousins (plates, cups, etc.) were made in the 1950s and ’60s. Sadly, due to foreign competition, they stopped production in 1986.
The big brown bowl doesn’t have much competition around here, however. My wife regularly uses it for mashed potatoes and gravy (thankfully), but that’s not the reason why it can almost always be found in the dish drainer. No, in spite of the fact that she says it will hold three cans of green beans or two boxes of mac-n-cheese, the big brown bowl has another purpose. Some (OK, I) might even say it serves a higher purpose. That purpose is quite simple …
It is the bowl I eat from when I use a bowl — and I like to eat.
When I am using the big brown bowl, it will hold three packages of Ramen noodles, a shockingly large amount of cereal, a third, at least, of a (big) pot of vegetable soup, and it will wear the cup off a ladle when filling it up with chili. And when it comes to ice cream, well, those little cardboard containers just disappear into the brown bowl’s maw, never to be heard from again. Then I pour chocolate syrup over it and tell myself it has went to a better place. True or not, I know I always feel better.
Now there are several reasons (other than simply enjoying it) that the brown bowl is a perfect match for me. When I was younger, I was like a locust and just clear cut every scrap of food foolish enough to be in my general vicinity. But there were things to do, so I learned to eat quickly to get back to them. Then, I started working (which required more fuel) so I ate more, even faster. And because I ate so fast, my brain was always about fifteen minutes behind with the “Stop eating, you’re full” message. Sluggish neurotransmitters, I guess — might want to get that checked.
Realistically, it isn’t practical financially or health-wise, to eat like that every single meal. And honestly, I don’t for the most part. Most days I eat like a “normal” human being and ignore the little voice that says, “Psst! If you are only using one bowl, then there is room for a plate, too.” I do actually have a big brown plate to go with the big brown bowl, but I try not to sit them on the table at the same time. And though I don’t have a big brown mug, a co-worker got me a Christmas present that is a very large cup the reads “Leftovers are for Quitters.” Tempting, yes, but I think the world can do without knowing if I can fill — and empty — all three at one sitting.
But the big brown bowl isn’t concerned by any momentary lapse of appetite on my part. No, it just sits there in the dish drainer and waits patiently, knowing that it won’t be a long wait. Occasionally I’ll hear whispers that sound like “family-size ravioli” or “beef stew,” but for the most part it’s quiet. I thought I heard “salad” once, as well, but it was actually “potato salad.” Not that the big brown bowl would mind actual salad, whether green or potato. It’s just ready for anything, anytime.
Although you could say that the big brown bowl has been my partner in numerous culinary “crimes,” that doesn’t mean that it should be considered an accomplice at all. No, you couldn’t indict General Motors simply because a bank robber drove a Camaro to the bank. The big brown bowl might hold 2 quarts of ice cream (and chocolate syrup, crushed nuts and sprinkles) and save me several trips back to the freezer, but it would just as easily hold fresh carrots, spinach or any number of other, healthier alternatives. And, *spoiler*, it doesn’t insist on being filled to the rim every time.
That last one is directly on me, I have to admit. But as much as I don’t like to “waste” the available space, I should probably turn down the volume so to speak. Of course, I could also let the big brown bowl go back to being a serving bowl on a regular basis, and just take it for a spin on occasion. For nostalgia’s sake, or possibly holidays or the dog’s birthday.
Maybe I could start using a smaller bowl, at least most of the time, and save the big brown bowl for the “big” jobs. But it will always “have my back” because it isn’t like I would ever toss it out ... I just might, on occasion, use it to toss an actual salad.