My recent experience at The Little Fish and Chip Shop in Southwold, alongside dining at Friska and other convenience restaurants (fast food outlets and cafes), made me realise that the desire for disposable tableware is having a significant impact on our dining experience.
I’ve been on an Easter break the past two weeks and have used this time to visit friends on different coastlines. The emerging spring weather has afforded me the opportunity to dine alfresco and the go to dish is fish and chips.
Arriving on the Isle of Wight a friend and I headed straight to the best chippy we knew, Corrie’s Cabin. Despite the extra financial cost, I was surprised to see that I was being served my meal in a polystyrene tray. Now, coming from the Isle of Wight I know that it can be a bit behind the times, but I would have thought that the best chippy in Cowes (one that goes so far as to make it own tartare sauce – demonstrated below) would have been thoughtful enough to consider the appeal of its takeaway packaging.
Alternatively, The Little Fish and Chip Shop placed most of its contents in degradable, branded packaging. Situated in an affluent seaside town the shops decor of copper topped tables, blackboards and graphic logos demonstrated a clear, almost tangible ethos. I knew that I was going to get my grub thoughtfully wrapped.
This meal was the extreme of disposable delights. Having travelled by car/train/ferry to my Easter holiday destinations the range of meals consumed from ports, service stations and supermarkets was dramatic. Staying with friends and having some poor weather meant it was also desirable to order food in. An insight into my two week break food intake looks something like this:
- Sainsbury’s x 3
- Tesco x 2
- Fish and Chip shop x 2
- Domino’s Pizza
- Indian (Takeaway)
- Chinese (Takeaway)
So that’s 11 dining experiences where disposable packaging was used to serve my meal. I ate out a great deal too, but all of these meals were served on ceramic tableware – the fad for slate thankfully seems to have passed. Ceramics clearly retains a sense of permanence in evening restaurants, commonly accompanied with table cloths. Where tablecloths have been removed I have experienced meals served on wooden boards, metal trays and enamel dishes.
As I articulate my experience here is does seem that ceramics is disappearing from our daily eating culture; grabbing a sandwich from Sainsbury’s, sushi from Tesco or a Hotbox from Friska, we no longer need ceramics in our busy lives…at least at lunch time.
Post Update: This picnic (consumed 17 April 2016) is testament to the lack of ceramics being used. Some foods were assembled at home, whilst others were purchased spontaneously from a supermarket.