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Color of dinnerware - turn on / turn off / don't care

I might be a lunatic, but this issue never bothered me before this christmas, and I'd like to hear opinions. I received a set of very beautiful pasta dishes, handpainted with a rustic design, pretty colors. Two combinations: blue bowl/ green outside, green bowl/ blue outside. Same combo with bright yellow/deep reddish orange.

Food in that blue-green bowl is just icky looking! Am I weird, or what? The bulk of my everyday dishes and ceramic cookware are black (I think food looks pretty on black dishes) and a serviceable set of white stoneware. My 'good' china is Villeroy/Boch Amapola, which is extremely colorful, even has some blue flowers on it, but it's not off-putting, at least to me - the middle of the plates are white, I think that makes a difference.

Am I the only weird one who gives a darn what color the plates are? And don't hesitate to say so, at least I'll know! Peace!

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  1. it sort of depends. if we're talking about a meal with several ingredients and/or components, simple is best, IMHO. when i look at my plate, i want to focus on the food without too many distractions from embellishments on the dinnerware because "busy" plates can just look messy, jumbled and unappetizing to me.

    but if it's something simple and mostly one color like a soup, or if it's a serving dish for hummus or some sort of spread (you get the idea), then the design on the dish won't bother me...unless, of course, it's just tacky or ugly :)

    1. I read somewhere here on chowhound that someone said that people are hardwired not to eat blue food because it indicates spoilage. Maybe the blue of the plate is affecting the little primitive reptile part of your brain?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Firegoat

        Definitely a question for Martha Stewart

      2. My everyday dinnerware is white banded with a royal-navy blue and I think it makes a nice complement to the foods. Paler, greenier-blues and aquas put me right off, though.

        1. Can't speak to why food looks icky in the green/blue dishes, but I can say I don't like black dishes (sorry!). My sister has black dishes, and I find it very unappealing to eat off of them. My everyday dishes, which I bought many, many years ago, are white with a pattern of earthy green and yellow around the border, which looks okay, but if I were buying today, I do think I would buy plain white. I think I would like a dark solid-colored plate (red, blue, green) or bowl as an accent or serving piece only. I might like yellow plates if it were an earthy or mustardy yellow and not too bright or dark.

          2 Replies
          1. re: lisavf

            Interesting discussion. My parents have a set of dishes that come in solid colors. The plates are purple, green, blue, and yellow. Having eaten off these plates many times, I now have a ranking, from most to least appealing. For me, blue is by far the most appealing to eat from, followed by green, then purple, and then, trailing far behind, the yellow. For some reason it is very unappealing to me. From this thread it sounds like this is one of those personal preference things.

            1. re: lisavf

              I agree with you about black dishes -- they'd probably be my last choice. My "everyday" dishes are white with cobalt blue bands.

            2. I really like the way a lot of foods look on black tableware, and then my second choice is white. But as far as what I have, I have mostly white, because I love porcelain and I have not found much in the way of plain black porcelain.

              One set of ceramic dinnerware I purchased a long time ago I was able to buy evenly in black and white. My SO prefers the white; I the black, so for many meals we are a black and white table.

              As far as colors go, some of my friends have fiestaware and I've eaten a lot of meals on their variety of colorful plates. Since these plates are solid colors, I have found I prefer some colors over others, mostly the really dark colors (don't know the correct fiesta color names), but some colors are dark purple and dark blue.

              I'm really not a fan of colorful patterns and then the way that food looks placed on top, so I can understand your reaction. Maybe check how salads versus pastas look in the blue/green combination to see if you can find a combination not off-putting to you? What kinds of food have you tried in the blue-green bowls?

              1 Reply
              1. re: souvenir

                I've put a lot of different foods in that blue pasta bowl, and it always turns me off! I eat/serve from shallow pasta plates all the time (I know that's another bone of contention on this board! ;-) but I just cannot get past that blue one! I think firegoat hit the nail on the head with the blue/green = spoiled (at least for me)

                lisavf - don't apologize, darlin!! This is exactly the kind of feedback I'm looking for here! Recent circumstances in my life are allowing me to entertain a lot more at my home, and I'm so neurotic I have to make sure everything is perfect!

                Thanks all! Peace - Pam

              2. I never used to be, but in cooking in a dinner club with a friend who does a LOT of cooking and is very particular about plating, I've come to prefer white plates for serving. The middle of my plates are white, while the edge (1-2" rims) are cobalt blue and yellow, so the food is still presented with a white background, for the most part. And I'm mostly only cooking for myself, so I don't care as much. But if I was having dinner parties, I'd prefer more white or cream-colored (my serving dishes are all white ironstone, so at least the food looks on the platter or in the bowl! LOL)

                Here are two examples of food plated on salmon-colored dishes - the first (a cold avocado-corn soup) I like because of the contrast of colors. The second (ribs and a scallion donut - both dishes from a Quentin Tarantino-themed dinner), I don't. Unfortunately, at this dinner, we didn't have white plates (one of the club diners has made sure to have a full set of white dishes for him when he cooks at her house! LOL)

                P.S. the sauce on the ribs was intentionally supposed to look like blood dripped on the plate; the theme, after all, WAS Quentin Tarantino. ;-)

                2 Replies
                1. re: LindaWhit

                  Perfect example. That looks like fiestaware to me, and in the middle color shades that, to me, don't make food look as good as it could.

                  1. re: LindaWhit

                    Those dishes are Fiesta and the colour is persimmon. It was retired several years ago.

                  2. I started out as a purist, whith plain white Thomas dishes (still have most of them). Then (in the '80s, those who lived through them will know) I got a set of black dishes. When I got sick of those, we picked out a pattern with a colorful abstract border that appealed to us at the time and is still nice over 10 yrs later. I went through a blue glass phase for a while (Elizabeth David said food looked good on blue plates, and it does, but blue glass breaks easily). The "good" china is Evesham which I have loved since my teens - food looks appealing on it. And we have some pairs of Japanese pottery plates that are smaller than the regular dinnerware and suited to different dishes (one is deep and good for stewy things). The answer is yes, it definitely matters to me what color and style of dinnerware I use, and I choose which to use to harmonize with what's being served. If I had space and money for it, I would love a set of really thin Rosenthal white china with the matte textured edges...mabe when I grow up I can have these.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: buttertart

                      BT - I just looked at that Evesham pattern online, and I have to say, it's beautiful! The earthy tones of the peaches/pears/cherries would definitely complement beautiful food. I registered the Villeroy/Boch Amapola because I thought (and still think ) it is so pretty in and of itself, but the blue flowers on the rim are kinda off-putting to me now. Probably a result of the messy divorce!

                      Now you've got me thinking about buying new dinnerware!

                      1. re: southern_expat

                        Yes it is beautiful and really good with food. They also have some nice serving pieces (mine are from when we were first married, not sure if they're still available - a large flat hors d'oeuvres tray is a special favorite). If not, there's always eBay!

                    2. I like different types of dishes; white is a neutral color that I can use for anything..I also have a set of black dishes that I use often. Then I have dishes that I use for certain things...normally, I don't care what color a dish is as long as the food looks good on it. For me, the dish should compliment the food that's on it, if that makes any sense

                      1. I am ashamed to say I watch Worst Cooks in America and I just cringe when someone uses the pea green fiestaware-style serving dish. For some reason I just can't find anything served on that color plate to be remotely appetizing. I think there are a lot of fiestaware colors I don't like as well- particularly the brown, green, and brick colors.

                        I prefer to use dishes that are white/beige and have a patterned border. Interestingly enough, colored bowls really don't bother me.

                        1. I dislike black dishes. I loathe white and glass coffee mugs.

                          I love white dishes.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: Bryn

                            I'm with you Bryn - detest glass coffee mugs. Although must have tea in white cups, esp b/c i drink it clear. It just contrasts nicely and I can see how dark the tea is.

                            1. re: cinnamon girl

                              I don't like the glass and white coffee mugs for coffee because when I take a sip I feel like I have to wipe off the lip because otherwise you see the drip marks of coffee down the side.

                          2. Do any of you older Chowhounds remember eating on Fiestaware? Sister in law had a set of mixed colors including a black. Her husband often worked late; they had four children and one car. If he was to be so late she had to feed the children before he came home Bill (not his real name) always knew the quality of her day when the warmed over supper was served on the black pieces. When all four had the chickenpox and he complained about the meal she told him he was lucky she had not served him cold shoulder and hot tongue.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Choconutty

                              Fathers late coming home, warmed-up dinners, black looks, oh yeah. If Mom had had black dishes she would have done the same. ("Am I in the doghouse agian, Marjorie?")

                              1. re: Choconutty

                                Vintage Fiesta did not come in black. Black is one of the post-86 colours. Originally Fiesta was introduced in 1936, had a number of different glazes over the years, and was discontinued in 1972. Then in 1986 it was reintroduced. Thus the post-86 designation. New Fiesta is made from a different clay with different glazes. It is now all lead-free.

                                1. re: Choconutty

                                  I'm so happy that I found original Fiestaware for a steal (a dollar a piece--and eight place settings!--at a Goodwill many years ago) because I dislike the newer colors. The original colors are generally brighter, and I prefer the perky yellow, turquoise, "Depression Era Green" and cobalt blues, especially, of the original colors.

                                2. I find a lot of greens just nasty for plating b/c so many foods are green and something's bound to clash. Or worse the green bowl will make your duller green food look murky.

                                  Blue is great for food, imo, b/c there aren't blue foods. My main dishes are white but my go to everyday pasta bowls that I eat everything in are white and blue. Very rarely does something look in bad in those bowls. So maybe it's the big swath of green in the bowl that's showing up your food poorly, as opposed to just a band of it which is far enough away from the green food to leave it in peace. Depends on the green of course.

                                  1. Years ago, a friend was buying a set of dishes and commented that she always would imagine how they'd look with scrambled eggs on them. At the time, I thought that was a pretty good thing to do and still think so now.

                                    Blue is not a particularly appetizing color. That's why you rarely see any fast food restaurants that have blue color schemes in their decorating.

                                    I found this interesting. Maybe I should buy blue plates to help with a weight loss plan....


                                    7 Replies
                                    1. re: Leepa

                                      Amazing how different our reactions are! My absolutely favorite color for dishes always includes a bright, cobalt or turquoise blue in there, somewhere. I've especially been attracted, all my life, to traditional "Chinese" blue, such as found in my large collection of Spode "Blue Room"...I love the French Provincial favorite combination of cobalt and sunny yellow, too. And I have a set of turquoise 50's speckleware (forget the manufacturer; very space-age shapes) that works beautifully for breakfasts.

                                      1. re: Beckyleach

                                        Now that you mention it, a more brightly-colored, darker blue would be pretty, and appetizing. I should have specified, but this blue bowl is sort of a washed-out, mottled, lighter blue. Still - blech.

                                        I am in the market for a 12-piece set of matching plates and bowls. I know that 'mismatched chic' is appealing to a lot of folks, but you have to have lots and lots of pieces to make that work! Cobalt blue would look great with the serving pieces I have. Thanks for the idea!

                                        1. re: southern_expat

                                          Blues definitely have a place on our tables.

                                          1. re: southern_expat

                                            Forgot to add photos in the other post. The first one is part of my "Blue Christmas" table setting using sapphire and periwinkle Fiesta. Also like to use turquoise, particularly for breakfast when I serve fresh free-range eggs with the bright orange yolks.

                                            1. re: decolady

                                              Oh! I know what you mean. We have a couple of old melmac plates in a faded, splotchy blue and I hate them, despite being a Blue Lover in general.

                                              Decolady, I too find that turquoise looks like "breakfast." :-)

                                        2. re: Leepa

                                          What about the old diner classic "blue plate special?"

                                          1. re: BobB

                                            There's a meat-n-three diner here in town called The Blue Plate Cafe. They serve on three colours of Fiesta: periwinkle blue, cobalt blue and white.

                                        3. Don't give a darn what color the plates are and I love the look of a mixed table setting. Thrift finds, vintage bargains, hand me downs and the like grace my table and I can't begin to tell you how many friends/family/guests to our home ask me how I found a mixed set!

                                          Let your eye be your guide!

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: HillJ

                                            I agree. I'm a potter and most of my dishes are handmade by me, friends, or my teachers. The most special are those by whom I have a great respect for their work. And they all work together.

                                            I'm still not big on blue dishes. But... that being said, to a potter blue equals money. If you can't make it well, make it blue. It will sell.

                                          2. I don't care what colour the crockery is - so long as it's white.

                                            1. I don't like black dishes... I like white the best, preferably with a nice touch of colour on the border/rim. That way you can see the pattern and it doesn't interfere with the plating in the middle. When we got married we were given a set of blue fiestaware-syle dishes and I didn't really like them because they didn't have proper rims to keep the food in place (but yes, if you photographed the food on the blue plates it never came out looking nice). We replaced them with a white dinner set with black rims. I kept the cereal bowls and they don't bother me because white milk looks pretty against the blue. I got some lovely plain white plates at the Dollar Tree with a woven-style edge. I wish I had smaller plates and cereal bowls to match! White just makes the food look clean and neat and attractive, whatever colour it is.

                                              1. Not a fan of black dishes, they're too 80s to me. My current set (replacing husband's old black dishes!) are these, which I adore: http://www.crateandbarrel.com/family.... Of course, right after getting them, they were discontinued, bummer.

                                                I grew up eating off of Corelle plates, which I don't like to eat of now. I do find their serving pieces charming, though.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: manraysky

                                                  Your comment about them being "too 80's" just reminded me of my ex-SIL. I remember her standing over her square shaped, new black dinnerware at her bridal shower, going ga-ga over these things. Now that I think about it, they did go well with shoulder pads and big hair! (Actually, I thought they were hideous, but my dear aunts had given her this gift, for which she had registered, so I never said anything to anyone about them).

                                                  1. re: RGC1982

                                                    Black + square = 80's to the max! Uber-stylish. My black ones from then were round.

                                                  2. re: manraysky

                                                    I like the Nilsson set you linked to. The blue reminds me of the light blue dinnerware that Ikea sells now as part of its 365+ collection (scroll down through the slide show) http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/cat...

                                                    1. re: manraysky

                                                      I actually just bought Corelle plates, but my reasons were solely pragmatic. We have very limited cupboard space and no dishwasher (still renting). I got really tired of hand-washing the heavy everyday plates and bowls we had. We freed up a whole shelf in the process of switching.

                                                      I don't think I have had a problem with particular colors or patterns. I did go with the plain white for the Corelle, however, as there were no patterns that my husband I could agree on. It's also easier to go with plain when you're hand-washing. (My old patterned plates had yellow on it that tended to look like dried egg yolk.) Oh, and I went with square, but again not for a particular aesthetic preference but because they have a smaller footprint for more plate space.

                                                    2. I collect vintage Fiesta and Harlequin, but those are for special occasions. I also have a couple of sets of china: Mansfield, by Lenox (ivory with a gold band) and my Mom's Rosalinde by Haviland (off white with little pink flower sprays - very popular in the 50s). But my everyday dishes are post-86 Fiesta. (And btw, the dishes are a registered trademark of the Homer Laughlin China Company. They are Fiesta, not Fiestaware.) I have all the colours, including black and white, and choose colours that go well with the foods of each meal.

                                                      In college I majored in Home Ec and we had a class one semester where part of our grade included choosing the right dishes to properly showcase the foods we were serving. I forget how many different sets of dinnerware there were, but I'm guessing somewhere in the vicinity of 50+ sets. The main no-no I remember from that class was DO NOT serve pasta with red sauce on the plates with the giant purple plums. LOL. But the class did seriously make me always pay close attention as to what foods look good on what plates. The nice thing about a collection of Fiesta is that there are so many possibilities to showcase and not compete.

                                                      1. I get sort of depressed eating off of brown dishes...dark brown. My parents had a set of brown Franciscanware (with black swirly designs) for years, and I always found those dishes dreary. They detracted from my mother's great cooking, it seemed to me. My sister has very high end, fancy Japanese pottery dinnerware (from Williams Sonoma), but it's still BROWN and--despite the much higher quality--has the same effect on me.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Beckyleach

                                                          The color of chocolate DEPRESSING! HA!

                                                          I happen to love brown dinnerware. We've collected Arabia Ruska for 30+ years, and use it for everyday and "special". I love the way green vegetables pop against the brown, and even beige foods look richer against it.

                                                          I don't recall a recent ad, but I recall seeing Ruska pieces in print ads for food quite often, I assume food stylists felt the rich brown color accented the food, too.

                                                          Of course, we all feel differently about certain colors!

                                                          1. re: Liz K

                                                            Yes, I remember all those adds with Ruska plates from Arabia, Finland in magazines for food products. Especially carrot soup. Also the Ruska plates look good in adds with a steak, potatoes and carrots.
                                                            I have owned my Ruska plates for many years. They are always on E-Bay. I am willing to bet that Arabia will bring back the pattern. They are a classic.

                                                          2. re: Beckyleach

                                                            I'm with you. My multi-colored Crate & Barrel set (image linked above) came with brown salad plates. I love the set, but I'm not too fond of the brown ones. Ugh.

                                                          3. It's not an earth-shattering concern to me, but I do care.

                                                            First choice: white, or white with a patterned edge.
                                                            Second choice: black, ditto.
                                                            Third choice: any other solid color.
                                                            Do not care to eat off of: anything that looks like a first-grader's finger painting.

                                                            1. White is always right! But I like colored dishes a lot, mostly solids, like Fiesta, but not every food looks good on every color. Sometimes a beautiful colored plate is just fun. Some mornings my bright orange cup perks me up, despite it only being filled with decaf.

                                                              1. Similar to leepa, i was taught to imagine the plate with scrambled eggs, green beans, and carrots on it. if it looked good with all three of those, it was probably gonna be fine.

                                                                1. Color does make a difference...... Loved my Denby(Greenwich) back when I bought them about 15 yrs ago as much as I do today....white face with deep green trim and back. You just can't destroy those plates. The green seems neutral in a way. Most foods against a white background present very well.

                                                                  1. I have some of those imported Italian colorful plates, however, I don't use them for dinner. I do use these pieces as serving dishes. Yes, all the print on the plate will sometimes work against the food that is presented on them, but if the meal is a simple one then those colorful dishes may work. My everyday dinnerware and my china are PLAIN WHITE CENTERS. You know the saying, "EVERYTHING GOES WITH WHITE"

                                                                    1. Forty years ago, my wife and I traveled much of the globe, looking for black, or dark gray dinnerware. We wanted flat edges or sides, and were told that we were crazy. This was from London to Rome, San Francisco to Tokyo, Atlanta to Paris. Great fun was made of us, at our expense, but we did not find the dinnerware, that we sought.

                                                                      It was not until 15+ years later, that we finally found what we were looking for.

                                                                      For me, black (or dark gray), or white is the better presentation. Now, there can be trim, but the matrix should be either black, or white.

                                                                      I am not a fan of the various colored dinnerware, though they might well be traditional to specific areas for the world, or to specific cuisines. As a graphic artist, I just do not "get it."

                                                                      I like simple lines, and plain colors, and do not enjoy the food with a painted background.

                                                                      However, I am the exact same with my wine stemware. I do not want any color, no facets, and only clear bowls, with zero distractions.

                                                                      Just a matter of personal aesthetics.



                                                                      1. When The French Chef switched from B/W to color programs, Julia most often used a set of heavy, dark olive green dishes that were completely unflattering to the food, especially if it too was green.

                                                                        I have two sets: ivory white stoneware and clear glass. They look good with everything. My favorite Chinese restaurant uses black dinnerware, and artfully garnishes every plate, which looks very nice but I think that's because I most often order seafood. Brown meat on black, not so much. I am surprised that the heavy plastic cups and bowls used in hospital food service are even MADE in black. I had serious complications after surgery 5 years ago, and was not allowed to eat or drink for 4 days. When I started to improve, the first food they brought me was chicken broth in a black bowl - it looked like dirty dishwater. Coffee and tea look horrible in black cups. But in the bathroom, black porcelain is outright dangerous. Signs of serious medical problems can't be seen if the bathroom fixtures are black.

                                                                        1. Ha! You want to talk ugly dinnerware? Back when my parents determined that my older brother and I were old enough to do the dishes (he was 8, I was 6), they purchased a service for 8 of melamine dinnerware, half of which was grey, the other, pink. I kid you not -- even as a young child, I knew this was hideous. (For company, they used Mom's Desert Rose.)

                                                                          1. I love this thread. I seriously thought I was the only one that really spent time thinking about these things. I have a thing for dishes. Unfortunately, I don't have any room to store different sets, so I live with one I picked up at a thrift store. I detest flowers on my plates. I don't want flowers mixing in with my food, I know it's crazy but there you are. My favorite are industrial restaurant plates....white with a red or blue ring around the edge. Of course that's probably due to the fact of always wanting to own my own restaurant. I do have a set of china bought in Tokyo back in the 60's, it's beautiful, almost all white with a lace border. Inherited from Mom. Due to the lack of space, it's boxed up in the basement and I haven't seen it in several years.

                                                                            1. I've recently inherited my mother's china. A ton of it, actually. All of it is cobalt blue with white centers. One has a blue band with fancy gold pattern around the rim, the other is "Dainty Blue" by Shelley, which is a delicate floral pattern, and my favorite "Mikado" which has a Japanese scene painted on it. Food looks quite nice on all of them, but I think it's because of the white centers.

                                                                              I also have her silverware, with all sorts of different utensils, including what appear to be sundae spoons. Fortunately I helped pick the pattern as we were robbed when I was a teenager. She basically said since I'd end up with it I should help pick it out. I got he Repouse pattern, which actually goes very nicely with my plain white square Ikea plates. Whilst I've no qualms with taking out the silver for a dinner party, I get a bit neurotic about the China. I still hear my Mother telling me to be careful with the china. It still gets used at least 4 times a year though