Dinnerware serves a number of purposes. It is primarily a collection of objects and tools which are used in the serving and consumption of a meal but it can be used equally to demonstrate ones wealth. When one sets a table there is four specific categories of tableware; objects which are used to serve food; objects which are used to hold food prior to consumption; glasses, cups and flatware. Serve-ware and dinnerware are often considered as simply ceramic tableware.
Serve-ware comprises that assortment of bowls, platters, gravy boats; creamers etc that are used for the serving of the meal. Serve-ware is often plated in the kitchen and brought to the table. Tea pots, carafes or pitchers fall into the category of serve-ware as they hold bulk beverages.
Dinnerware is very different from serve-ware. Whereas serve-ware is used for holding large portions of various foods, dinnerware is used for single servings. Ceramic tableware consists of a host of different objects which include plates for the main meal and dessert, bowls, cups and saucers. These pieces are what are set on a daily basis, when a special meal has been prepared, perhaps for a holiday; then additional tableware may be used, including a soup bowl, salad plate and bread plate.
A very important component of a well set table is the flatware. Flatware consists of the utensils that are required to consume the meal; fork, spoon and knife being the three basic pieces. Just as tableware is very diverse, so is flatware. Although the three basic are often the only pieces used, it also includes specialized pieces such as soup spoons, butter knives as well as steak knives.
The last item that is standard on a well set table is drink ware. Drink ware includes anything that is used to consume a beverage, either hot or cold. Cups and mugs are considered to be in this category although they may be part of a dinnerware set. Glassware is uniquely considered as drink ware, this includes water glasses, wine glasses and other specialty glasses such as beer mugs.
Tableware is most commonly groped by the four definitions but it can just as easy be defined by the material that it is made from, for example silverware and ceramic tableware.
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