Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Plastic Free Renaissance Style Lunch Ware

When Husband and I performed at the Ohio Renaissance Festival (1994-2001), if we ate or drank in view of the patrons, which was often, we had to us period eating and drinking vessels - meaning no plastic.

I’m happy to say that most of these items are still in use.

Mugs made from leather, ceramic, wood, and metal. The leather mug is lined with food grade wax and is for cold beverages only.

A mug is essential. If you don’t want to end up with a nasty case of heat stroke, you carried a mug or glass bottle full of water (often a repurposed wine bottle with a real cork), or sports drink with you at all times to stay hydrated and replace electrolytes after running, jumping, dancing, and sword fighting (oh yes I did!) while wearing several layers of clothing in the hot summer sun. We refilled our vessels from a water station in the actor’s rest area behind the scenes.

For eating vessels a bowl is the most versatile. In a pinch, you could use a bowl for water instead of a mug. Most food booths would fill up our bowls instead of using the disposable products they supplied for the patrons.

The left bowl was mine when I played a jester. Since jesters colored outside of the lines of Elizabethan society, I figured she wouldn’t use a conventional wooden bowl either.

All of our bowls are thrift store finds. We used wooden bowls when we played peasants and metal when we played nobility. We carried them by tucking them into a basket or by drilling a hole in them and hanging them from our belts because they didn’t have pockets as we know them back in ye olde England.

We ate with wooden utensils when we played the lower classes and metal (the one pictured is a real silver spoon) when we played upper class characters. The wooden spoon and fork were purchased from Lehman’s on a trip to Amish country and still lives in our picnic basket. The bamboo spork is a recent addition from Fabkins and is used for our work lunches. I wanted to show the bamboo spork to you because I think it is kinda cool and wish I had it back in the day.

Forks and sporks aren’t period as shown. A real Elizabethan period fork only has 2 tines and was controversial to use because it looked like the devil’s pitchfork. However, given that some of the food at the faire was easier to eat with a real fork than a spoon, like funnel cakes (total weakness here) we were allowed to use a conventional styled fork.

So what about napkins you say? Well as peasants, we went with what we had, our shirt sleeves! As nobility, I had a cloth handkerchief that I used for such things – a lady would never use her shirt sleeve!

That’s great Lisa, you say but this is a Clear the Clutter Out Carnival. You don’t perform anymore. What are doing with all of this stuff? Isn’t this plastic free stuff just cluttering up the backs of your cupboards?


Most of these items are put back into service when we use our picnic basket for road trips, potlucks, picnics, or for work lunches. The mugs are still great for drinking, especially the ceramic ones; drinks stay cooler longer in a thick ceramic mug. I now use some of the mugs to corral our collection of chopsticks in the cupboard. We have several sets because we eat a lot of Asian style food. I also use the mugs to display silverware when we have buffet dinners.

The only difference is that when we dining with these items, we use a cloth tablecloth and napkins, not our shirtsleeves!

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This post is part of the Get the Junk Out! Carnival where the topic is plastic food containers hosted by Fake Plastic Fish

Want to try using cloth napkins? There’s still time to enter my Fabkins Children’s Cloth Napkin Giveaway!

Disclosure: Fabkins gave me two free sporks (they will be selling them soon) but didn't ask me to review them or write about them on my blog. I wanted to because I'm a dork that likes sporks (hey! that rhymes!) I think they are clever and useful and wanted to show them to you.