It is the age-old remedy for getting over a cold: a bowl of steaming hot soup. The steam rolls upward and away, caressing your nose, invigorating your senses and warming your soul. Your hands instinctively move to wrap around the bowl and absorb its energy. By plating food simply, such as in a deep bowl, dishes seem to come together effortlessly and appear to be more "whole."
>> Recipe: Skinny Chicken Noodle Soup
There is something quaint about throwing tons of wholesome food into a bowl and mixing it all together for a premium bite every time. Think of Chipotle lovers vigorously shaking their to-go bowls.
Artistically thrown together dishes are showing up all over the place in bowls... quinoa with steamed vegetables and a spicy peanut sauce, or blended fruit yogurt topped with chia seeds and kiwi, or a bowl of super greens and any dressing of your choosing. Is it a movement... a fad? Maybe.
>> Check out this berry smoothie bowl with toasted coconut.
In this article on WellandGood, chef Camille Becerra of Navy, a seafood restaurant in New York City, said that bowls are changing the way many people eat because "they’re nutritious and can incorporate protein, whole grains, vegetables, and delicious sauces into one dish," which she points out is important to young people now in terms of how they view healthy eating. It's understandable how complete, well-rounded meals mean more to young people than counting calories or going on any fad diet.
But could it really be worth it?
We all know that putting a smaller steak on a large plate makes the meal look dinky. Food aficionados desire to have their senses assaulted by the food: how it looks, how it tastes, how it feels in the mouth, etc. In comparison to eating a rice dish off of a plate, eating it out of a bowl may make the ingredients look brighter, may make the flavors meld easier, and it may make your meal look fuller... more vibrant, easier to fill the belly with! Also, bowls (usually) sit perfectly in the palm of the hand. Perhaps by holding your food, feeling its weight and warmth, you could feel more satisfied and pleased with such a meal.
Going along with that, by layering the ingredients you could ensure that the hot portions stay hot (rice and beans at the bottom, for example) and the cold portions stay cold (tomatoes and cilantro). With each thorough bite, you continue to satisfy your craving until your scrape the bottom of the bowl. That's a gratifying sound.
>> Recipe: Salmon Sushi Bowls for Two
Nigella Lawson, a celebrity chef, spoke with NPR about bowl food and reiterated that "I suppose it does rhyme with soul food. And it has that same connotation of food that bolsters you."
It all boils down to the vessel and what it does for you. That may sound silly, but think of how Zen Buddhist monks carry a single bowl for their entire lives, and live off of almsgiving from the community so they can instead focus on connecting to their spirits. While monks probably don't focus too much on the content of the bowl and are merely grateful for the presence of anything in there, it goes without saying that the bowl allows for them to be mindful and appreciative of sustenance.
Scooping up a meal from a loaded bowl will allow you to contemplate what kind of food goes in your body, and how each element is important for your health journey. Each customized bite will be the epitome of flavor and texture, and you will undoubtably leave satisfied from a well-rounded dish... round, because it's out of a bowl... it's a pun.