Foodie Underground: 5 Simple Serving Classics

ColumnServe your food up simple with these 5 classics.

How often are we seduced by sexy packaging? All. The. Time.

We live in a disposable world, full of plastic forks, coffee cups and styrofoam takeout boxes. At the same time, everywhere we turn we’re tempted to improve our culinary prowess by investing in the latest and greatest in kitchen products, when most times, what we have at home in the cupboard will do us just fine. All that fancy packaging and array of designer plates do only one thing: take the focus away from food.

But fortunately, just like simpler foods are discovering a new found fame, even in the midst of a sea of ridiculous – and often useless – kitchen products, there are several classics that are making a comeback. These iconic, reusable designs, often easy to find second hand, mean your food will be the main focus and you won’t be contributing to the waste stream.

Glass jars

They’re not just for homemade jam anymore. Glass jars not only let us pay homage to the past, but also put the focus on the food instead of the packaging. Even rice looks better sitting on your counter if it’s in a classic wide mouthed glass jar with a simple metal clasp. And Mason jars are a foodie’s best friend. That’s why restaurants are eating them up, using them for everything from pate to desserts. Bring the style into your own home by adding small details like handwritten labels.

Your Grandmother’s China

You don’t need modern espresso cups and fancy machines that whip up machiattos. French press and classic coffee cups will do just fine thanks. It’s not just because Lady Gaga totes around tea cups as accessories that retro china is hip, it’s because it reminds us of a simpler, slower time. One where we took time out of our day to sit down with friends and spend a little time disconnecting from the real world and catching up. I’m personally a sucker for anything Scandinavian, like Marimekko, but any type of classic 50s coffee cups designs are in, so pull out the old porcelain and enjoy.


It’s colorful, it’s simple, and it’s classic enough that you’ll never have to replace your dinnerware again. Just be aware when buying antique – the color in older versions comes from radioactive radionuclides.


Although a ceramic paper cup lookalike is trendy and all, if you really want to push the coffee envelope, track down a retro thermos. You can take it anywhere, you’re hot drink of choice stays warm, and it will add a little flair to your coffee break. And if you can’t find an old one, there are plenty of new ones on the market sure to please, like this one from VivaTerra.


If you’re still dragging your lunch to work in a paper bag, you’re out of the loop. Reusable is in, and for good reason. Opt for classic metal versions like the MC Snap from Innate, and if the the old school, metal box isn’t your look, go for something a little edgier like Bento Boxes, which have an ingenious design that employs both recycled content and keeps you from packing your food with a bunch of ziplocs and saran wrap.

When it comes to what you eat and what you serve it on, keep it simple, stupid.

Images: Stars ApartChicago Tribuneplyhm, Sarah Korf, VivaTerraInnate Gear, Laptop Lunches,

Anna Brones

Anna Brones is a food + travel writer with a love for coffee and bikes. She is the author of The Culinary Cyclist and Fika: The Art of the Swedish Coffee Break. Catch her weekly column, Foodie Underground.