The perfect bowl.

Neither too shallow, nor too wide. The matte glaze is neither too rough nor too slick. Both the shape and dimensions are just right to hold in my large hands. Lovely to hold when eating, and even warming my hands.

It’s the very quintessence of “bowl”.

Any kind of food looks more attractive contrasting against the black glaze. It’s big enough to hold an adequate amount of food for one meal. Because of its appropriately semi-spherical shape and ceramic composition, it keeps the food warm while I’m eating it. The sides are steep enough to collect tidy lumps of rice with my chopsticks. The curvature of the bottom perfectly matches that of my Lexan tablespoon. (Like lacquered wood, this high-density plastic don’t annoy my teeth the way metal flatware does).

It’s a pleasure to eat from. I look forward to using it every day at lunch time.

Any meal is automatically better with my bowl, be it curry, chile, or cold cereal. I care for it and guard its well-being, as my first one got chipped on the rim from careless handling through the dishwasher. I don’t leave the bowl knocking around the countertop at work, where it can risk being damaged, broken, or permanently “borrowed”.

Doubtless this seems over-meticulous to some people; to them it’s “just a bowl”. For those inclined to labelling, it borders on OCD or being anal-retentive. That’s only because most people aren’t so particular about their lunch containers. Some people are equally particular about their vehicles, keeping them clean, frequently washed and serviced. But of course, pristine automobiles are more valuable, and thus more highly valued, than are single bowls. Nevermind that my bowl gives me functional use and æsthetic value every day. This is because well-designed, simple objects are usually given less status in this country than are objects that are new, flashy, high-tech, or over-powered.

Given the opportunity, I take my bowl with me when travelling. Most people have mental lists of what they would pack in advent of emergencies, such as forced emigration from flooding. In addition to the standard “change of clothes, medications, documents, pets” I also have “laptop, bowl, pillow”. When the world around you is in chaos, you want some touch-stones of stability, those little daily comforts that form a linking thread of familiarity and reliability.

Because of these reasons, my bowl has a personal history with me. It’s been around places, a service piece of solidarity that supports me no matter what else is going on in my life. The exceptional design is not just user-friendly — the object has turned into a friend. I have not named it, and don’t entertain conversations with it the way a child does with a favorite stuffed animal, but I would be aggrieved in much the same way were something to happen to it.

My bowl is not perfect. Although it embodies those Greek ideals of functional form and simple beauty, it is still an earthly object. It is fragile, and thus impermanent. There is a small pimple of glaze that mars the smoothness. With ongoing use it slowly acquires the patina of age, the wear on the glaze at the bottom of the inside, and on the foot. It only seems solid and unchanging, but in actuality it too is in a constant state of becoming. These imperfections are part of why I cherish it; they make it unique and individual and personal, much like the worn nose on a cherished teddy bear. In this regard, it also embodies the Japanese ideals of wabi-sabi.

Sometimes I contemplate these qualities as I am eating lunch, in nadi as I am focused upon the food I am eating and the dish I am using. I love it. It’s a great bowl.

(Hat-tip to Bev, who reminded me about this subject I’d been meaning to address.)


  1. Callista said,

    20 August 2007 at 21:17

    Highly recommend you find a source of other bowls like it! Won’t be exactly the same, but the miracle of mass-production means you may have an easy replacement if it breaks or wears out…

  2. mcewen said,

    19 August 2007 at 21:41

    I can think of a couple of people who would be in complete agreement with you.

  3. qw88nb88 said,

    19 August 2007 at 18:39

    Never heard of the story, but you have sure piqued my ‘satiable curtiosity, thank you!

  4. Bev said,

    19 August 2007 at 17:16

    It looks like a wonderful bowl, and this is a lovely tribute to it.

    Have you read Ann Beattie’s short story “Janus”? It is one of my absolute favorite stories, about a woman who becomes very attached to a certain bowl. The main character’s name is also Andrea. “Janus” originally appeared in The New Yorker, and is available in the book Where You’ll Find Me.

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