On Being Downwardly Mobile

recent Melmac purchase, detail

recent Melmac purchase, detail

At 4:30 a.m. on January 17, 1994, the Northridge earthquake shook the Los Angeles basin. My house ended up with a couple of broken windows, but no structural damage. My dinnerware did not survive. All of the Russell Wright Iroquois Casual plates were rocketed from the cabinets and slammed into the opposing kitchen wall, leaving dents where they hit. That morning, I decided to embrace plastics. Mr. McGuire says to Benjamin Braddock in The Graduate, “I want to say one word to you. Just one word. Are you listening? Plastics.” He was right. Now there are good plastic dishes and bad plastic dishes. I found a remarkable set of avocado colored bowls in Tokyo, and another set of baby blue bowls in Paris. A good resource is, unsurprisingly, ebay under Melmac. Don’t buy anything used, it’s gross. Other people may have licked the plates or cut into them. I only buy the “in the original box, unopened” dinnerware. Much of it was purchased in the 1950s and 1960s and then left in a box in the back of a cabinet. This set is a recent find. I’m guessing 1969, 1970. I love the turquoise and green color palette, and the vaguely Mexican motif. It’s rather psychedelic and hints at macrame and rust colored sofas. I know that chefs want food presented on beautiful plain surfaces, and that this is wrong, wrong, wrong. But my typical meals of turkey burgers, chili, grilled chicken and steamed vegetables look fine to me.

a tiny bowl, cup and saucer, and plate, melmac

a tiny bowl, cup and saucer, and plate, melmac

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3 Responses to “On Being Downwardly Mobile”

  1. tracey Says:

    Oh, that fateful night. Sunday had been filled with hunting and gathering at the Long Beach Flea Market. We came home and I lovingly washed and put away a beautiful set of forest green and lime green square Franciscan tumblers. They were a site to behold. Little did I know that less than twenty-four hours later they would be reduced to shards on my kitchen floor. Nothing like an earthquake to bring a little perspective to the attachment I have to my beloved stuff.

    Love the blog. Discovered it yesterday. Anything with the word optimism in the title has me hooked!

  2. TStone Says:

    I like these dishes! One of my biggest fears in moving to Los Angeles was not the endless traffic troubles, it was that my vintage Fiesta collection would smash to smithereens in an earthquake. So far, it’s still intact. If it ever happens, I’m going plastic.

  3. Burning Settlers Cabin» Blog Archive » When Bad Type Happens to Good People Says:

    [...] My food tastes are rather plebian, I’m not so keen on subtle beiges, and I have no issue with Melmac. But I am a type snob. I try to be open minded, but I’m rigid and uptight. I mentioned at the [...]