In general, it's safe to say that I love all things vintage. Especially vintage cooking and dining ware --plates, pots, pans, napkins, etc. But you can't help but notice that 100 years ago, everything in the kitchen and dining room was much much smaller. As were we.
People drank tea all day, for instance, but out of tiny, delicate tea cups. One good-sized coffee mug today can easily hold double an older one's volume of a hot beverage, because we live in a culture that's become super-sized.
Today's large wine glasses are even worse (or better depending on how much you like large quantities of wine) Today's red wine glasses are actually capable of holding a full BOTTLE of wine in them, as opposed to more old-style glasses, which hold the standard 6-ounce glass' worth. Not hard to imagine why we have people becoming inebriated after having "just one glass" of wine these days. Look at the glass.
Plates are the same way...the older, usually the smaller. I have a friend who acquired some early 20th century charger ironwood serving platters and actually uses them as plates. And when you have dinner at his house, you notice nothing awry, because those platters (which your average Victorian cook used to serve the entire entree for four on) is now just about the right size for ONE hearty portion of dinner.
But if you are trying to keep your weight off, that late 1800/early 1900's cooking and dining ware is your best friend.
The other day I used up the last of our apple harvest in some nice pie filling, but did not want a standard, 21st Century deep-dish apple pie hanging around going bad. It's just too much for two people. Heck, it was too much at Thanksgiving for five people!
So I used a couple of 1940s pie/cake tins and split the recipe in half. I cooked both crusts in the oven, then added my pie filling to each, cooked one and froze the other for some later time. We enjoyed the first pie over two or three days, but there was no pressure to eat it all up before it spoiled because there just wasn't that much of it. What a nice change.
It was so nice to have pie -- delicious, wonderful pie -- in manageable portions we did not have to feel guilty about. Because in addition to the circumference of the pie shell being much smaller, the older pie plate was also not as tall, and therefore held much less filling. Call it a slim pie.
As I've bought more vintage wares, I've found smaller plates also work well if you're interesting in serving smaller portions. And for side dishes, 75 year-old muffin, cupcake and popover tins serve lovely half-sized (to us) portions of the stuff you probably shouldn't be over-indulging in, without having to actually cut portions in half. Half for us was normal for those living 75 years ago.
I do wonder about the future of a culture that has spent their years of abundance turning healthy portions into gorging ones, though. It seems as though our 100 year ancestors understood a lot more about how much food we actually need to be healthy and survive than we do.
And so I look to the wares in the vintage kitchen more and more as I try and rein in how much food we consume. Very few of us had obese grandparents or great-grandparents, and perhaps this was the reason.