Whether its breakfast, lunch or dinner, the humble bowl is surging in popularity. Known for being hemispherical in nature and wider than it is deep, bowls have been around for thousands of years and exist in most households. The western world has long used bowls as a serving dish for everything from a side of vegetables to a fruit salad for dessert; however, it is really only in recent times that the versatility of the bowl for individualised use has become a topic of conversation in households and a permanent fixture on menus. Whether it be the banging breakfast bowl, the legendary lunch bowl or the dainty dinner bowl, the word ‘bowl’ is extremely interchangeable and recently, is used more often than not.
I mean, the word is even used to describe football stadiums due to its similarly shaped nature. Like a dinner bowl, a football bowl allows for maximum fans to fit inside, exhibiting the ability to seat them around the entire perimeter of the stadium. A magnificent array of colour, a full football bowl, like a full culinary bowl can be likened to a piece of art. Likeness aside, bowl food or food in a bowl, no matter what you call it, has seen a major rise in popularity in recent time, thus it worth investigating why this is so…
When compared to a plate, a bowl allows the diner to savour all the flavours together at once without the ability to pick and prod around a flat surface. While this may not be ideal for the fussy eater, the ability to scrape your spoon up the side of a bowl and capture all flavours has gained the bowl a 10/10 in this area.
Being a mobile object and having barrier walls, the bowl allows food to be cradled and eaten in places other than the sophisticated dining room table, like the couch or the bed, without the risk of losing half your dish to the floor or your t-shirt. Lastly, presentation is enhanced through the layering and close proximity of all colourful ingredients in the dish to one another.
Perhaps it’s a bid to be healthier? Bowl foods on menus generally represent a more wholesome, macronutrient-balanced meal. Due to the small flat surface circumference and lack of empty space, you are unlikely to fit in a slice of bread or a baked potato, resulting in decreased opportunity for overeating.
The bowls we are seeing in cafes and restaurants are full of exotic ingredients labelled ‘superfoods’ purporting the ideal of a healthier, more nutritious option. Whilst this is sometimes the case, what it is that makes these foods ‘super’, can often be misleading for the consumer. The countless images of perfected bowls on Instagram and the ‘how to’ instructions on blogs and websites make it seem like putting together a bowl of food is rocket science! People are going to great lengths to perfect their bowl images to the point where I would imagine their food would be down to an un-enjoyable temperature or less than ideal consistency (in the case of a smoothie) by the time they get around to consuming it.
So what’s in it for the average Jo, the person like you and me that wants a simple and nutritious dish without the extra fuss and bother…
I guess the moral of the story is that bowl food does not need to be expensive and full of these so called ‘superfoods’ to be healthy. Many household staple meals fit extraordinarily well into a bowl, whether it is your zucchini pasta and bolognaise sauce or stir fry to your humble bowl of porridge with a sprinkle of your favourite nuts, seeds and cinnamon.
The humble bowl is open to much interpretation, it is flexible and versatile and provides a wonderful stage for the layering of fresh ingredients. It is a fun way to eat your culinary masterwork providing for a more casual dining experience. We do not need to be bowled over by technicalities and the latest and greatest functional food. Rather, the bowl can be filled with the ingredients we have always been using to still create a nutritious meal for anytime of the day.