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Fat Guy

Using trays to carry stuff

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When my mother brings stuff out from the kitchen, she brings it on plastic cafeteria trays. These trays allow her to bring out a great quantity of food, beverage and tableware in a single trip.

Me, I was just preparing lunch and made a separate trip with each two glasses of water etc. I'm an idiot.

Do you use trays? In other words, are you smart like my mother or stupid like me?


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Tray service is a great way to break a lot of stuff and lose a lot of food all at once.


Bryan C. Andregg

"Give us an old, black man singing the blues and some beer. I'll provide the BBQ."

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I never really gave this much thought until now, but my Mother often used trays to serve my Father's meals and now her boyfriend's meals. Sometimes she even includes a flower in a wee vase. I've always suspected that it had something to do with more "traditional" lady-of-the-house manners than anything else. She's quite deferential in other matters as well. But perhaps she's simply being practical- easy to serve, easy to clean up. Oh, and the trays have always been pretty- bamboo inlay, enameled, etc.

Not me. I prefer to juggle my flatware, perch my dinnerware and balance my glassware on the way to the dining room. Risky yet lazy behavior is what I'm all about.


Shelley: Would you like some pie?

Gordon: MASSIVE, MASSIVE QUANTITIES AND A GLASS OF WATER, SWEETHEART. MY SOCKS ARE ON FIRE.

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I bought a round tray from a resturant supply one day, thinking I would use it all the time. Like you, I would make several trips. Surely I would start to use the tray, right?

Well, no. I rarely use it. One of the reasons is that I think it's just not sized properly to carry a dinner plate with beverage. I could use it to carry a beverage, plus some snacks and stuff. And I have done that. But only a few times.


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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When serving, I'm stupid.

When cooking, I dash around the kitchen collecting ingredients like a caffeinated Boy Scout scrounging firewood.


Peter Gamble aka "Peter the eater"

I just made a cornish game hen with chestnut stuffing. . .

Would you believe a pigeon stuffed with spam? . . .

Would you believe a rat filled with cough drops?

Moe Sizlack

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Tray service is a great way to break a lot of stuff and lose a lot of food all at once.

It's more efficient in that way too!

I definitely drop more stuff my way than my mother drops her way, but that may be an apples-and-oranges comparison. I do find, however, that without a tray I try to carry too much stuff, which is the root of the dropping problem in my home (which is separate from the inefficiency problem). Yet as much as I carry it's not as efficient as even a half-full tray.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I definitely use a tray or basket or both when moving things from the kitchen to the outside patio. I rarely use one for the dining room or breakfast area - many mugs of soup would be an exception. I sometimes use one for dessert and coffee or just coffee service so I can take spoons, cream and sugar, too.

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I use trays all the time. I have various types including the ubiquitous "cafeteria" trays made by Cambro, that are nearly indestructible and are cheap, clean easily and with a lining of the non-slip shelf liner, make transporting things easy and convenient.

I have deeper "tea" trays made of wood, bamboo, rattan, etc., that are handy for transporting a bunch of tumblers, goblets, and things that tend to tip over.

Some of my tea trays came with folding stands that are similar to luggage stands and two are part of a tea cart that can be wheeled around when needed.

My use of trays is partly due to growing up in a home where trays were constantly in use and it was considered vulgar to hand guests a glass or cup and saucer or plate directly, good manners required such things be offered on a tray. As I recall, things became more relaxed in the '60s and the use of trays never really came back into general use.


"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

My blog:Books,Cooks,Gadgets&Gardening

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Last week, I spent about 5 minutes figuring out how to carry two very hot bowls of cream of tomato soup, a can of soda, a bag of soup crackers. twp spoons and a couple of paper towels from the kitchen to the living room all in one go. The solution involved a couple strategically placed kitchen towels, a steady pace and a 50% chance of severe burning, which gladly did not come to be (my 3 pets were luckily asleep).

A tray did not occur to me in the slightest until now.

Now, on the one hand, this may qualify me as stupid. Hard to argue this fact in light of the evidence above.

BUT... I'm going with petite tête de chou's defense: "Risky yet lazy behavior is what I'm all about"

(yes... I know... that's also stupid...)

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When I am operating on all thrusters (rarely happens) I will use a tray to move things from the kitchen to the dining area but hubby NEVER and I mean NEVER moves 2 cups of coffee from one area to another WITHOUT a tray.

When a cooking task requires a well set up mis (a stir-fry for instance) I will gather all the ingredients on a quarter sheet pan and place it close to where I am cooking.

I will also use a tray on the occasions where we have a lunch for 2 that has lots of little dishes and jars of pickles and such.

So I am a half-wit I guess. :biggrin:


Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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My use of trays is partly due to growing up in a home where trays were constantly in use and it was considered vulgar to hand guests a glass or cup and saucer or plate directly, good manners required such things be offered on a tray.

This is still true in much of Asia, I think. You'd never offer someone a drink without putting it on a little tray first. Sometimes the tray is only big enough for one cup - I love those. Cup, saucer, tiny tray - twee, but charming.

I've been coveting the handsome square wooden trays at Muji for a while, I think this topic has finally given me an excuse to buy one. I'm always running back and forth between the kitchen and my living room getting forks, pickle plates, and whatnot.

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I'm an ex waitress from a way back, so I still stack plates on my arms and carry them in that way, even when using my good china. I've never dropped one yet. Drinks are a different matter, and I use a tray with a cork base inside to keep them from slipping around.

I will also use a tray to carry all the utensils, salt and pepper, napkins and things to the table for setting, especially if we are eating outside.


Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Tray service is a great way to break a lot of stuff and lose a lot of food all at once.

It's more efficient in that way too!

I definitely drop more stuff my way than my mother drops her way, but that may be an apples-and-oranges comparison. I do find, however, that without a tray I try to carry too much stuff, which is the root of the dropping problem in my home (which is separate from the inefficiency problem). Yet as much as I carry it's not as efficient as even a half-full tray.

I'm with bandregg! It might be different if I were smart enough to remember distribute the stuff evenly when I loaded a tray, but I'm obviously too stupid to be allowed to use a tray. So I always wind up with lopsidedly heavy trays that send a lot of stuff (dinnerware and food) crashing to the ground all at once. If nothing else, the crash invariably comes when I try to unload the first item from the tray.

In theory, though, I admit that trays are a good idea.


Edited by markk (log)

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I use my husband or my guests. So I don't use a tray, but I'm not stupid.

I can see small plates or bowls on a tray, but a regular size tray maxes out with two large dinner plates that are just as easily carried one in each hand. I don't think I am steady enough to carry full glasses on a tray; in that case I could make two trips to the dining room faster than one trip with a tray, since I would be very nervous and walking slowly and carefully.

My mother uses a tray to take her breakfast from the kitchen to her dining table six steps away: cereal, spoon, cup of coffee. The spoon would otherwise have to be in the full bowl of cereal, which she considers hazardous. Mind you, my mother is 90 and has never fallen in her life as far as I know. Unlike her daughter.

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There does not exist, in my kitchen, a handy place to stash a tray. So, using one would entail walking through the dining area... might as well carry something at the same time :-)

But when eating outside... I use a tray about half of the time.


Karen Dar Woon

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Do you use trays? In other words, are you smart like my mother or stupid like me?

I'm definitely stupid like you. Possibly even stupider, because I actually own trays and still make multiple trips from room to room. I just forget I even have them...

Sometimes the tray is only big enough for one cup - I love those.  Cup, saucer, tiny tray - twee, but charming.

Speaking of trays I always forget I have, I've got one of these – just big enough for a single tea service. I love it. Haven't remembered to use it once yet.


I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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Had dinner at my mother's place tonight. Perhaps the greatest benefit of trays that I observed tonight came after the meal, when clearing. It was possible to load up a couple of trays with everything that needed to be cleared from a fairly large dinner for five people, and make one trip (two of us making the trip) to the kitchen.


Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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we use trays when we have guests, but don't bother when it's just the two of us.

They're great when serving ice-cream especailly. Bill will scoop out his creation of the day into a dozen tiny bowls & bring them all to the table at once.


Do you suffer from Acute Culinary Syndrome? Maybe it's time to get help...

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Last week, I spent about 5 minutes figuring out how to carry two very hot bowls of cream of tomato soup, a can of soda, a bag of soup crackers. twp spoons and a couple of paper towels from the kitchen to the living room all in one go. The solution involved a couple strategically placed kitchen towels, a steady pace and a 50% chance of severe burning, which gladly did not come to be (my 3 pets were luckily asleep). 

For me that's just 2-3 trips to the kitchen, no time for thought required.

I don't understand the obsession that some folks (including my SO) have with reducing the # of trips to the ktichen. What's the big deal, unless there are stairs involved? We all need the exercise, little though it is in this case.

My SO will pile up dishes in ways that seem to defy the law of gravity & carry them into the kitchen, a pile in each hand, while I sit cringing, waiting for the big crash. I will make 3 or 4 trips, feeling smug all the while that I am burning 3.2 calories in the process.


Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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I don't think the issue is as simple as it seems.

First of all, you pretty much have to have a non-skid surface on your tray. None of mine do. I could, certainly, cut some shelf liner to fit, but since I store the trays vertically, what am I going to do with the shelf liner in my tiny kitchen? The absence of a non-skid surface on the tray means things are going to slide around, and that can be an invitation to disaster. (Voice of experience.)

Second, it's difficult to see directly in front of you when carrying the tray. I put a remarkably cover-resistant blueberry pie stain on my mother's living room wall when, as a child, I was taking a tray full of pie slices to our guests, and didn't see the dog...

Third, the arthritis in my hands that exists permanently, and the tendonitis in one elbow which I hope is only temporary, prevent me from carrying anything very heavy. Carrying a tray puts significant weight out in front of me, at an angle that isn't joint-friendly.

Fourth, for me, there's no point. Even with a tray, I still manage to forget a few vital things, like salt, pepper, sweetener, silverware, etc. A tray makes the difference only between eight trips and twelve, and then it has to be washed, dried, and put away. :wacko:

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I use trays, because I have let my children get into the unfortunate habit of eating in the sunroom/tv room. They also frequently have other kids over, & it's just easier to put drinks & plates on several small trays that they can put between them. Of course, I have not yet figured out how to get them to take their empty trays w/ dirty dishes out to the kitchen, to place in the dishwasher, but I'm working on it... (I use Ikea plastic trays).

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Trays are great.

Not for serving/carrying food stuff into the dining room.

There is never enough room on the table to set them down to unload.

And carrying them with one hand takes a lot of balancing, prone to crash.

A second person to help expell items i usually in the kitchen.

So, trays for me are only in use for placing packaged food onto somthing flat destined for the freezer. I guess that makes me stupid, or half?


Peter

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