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Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 8:10 am
by Richard
In the 1950s and 60s kiff bowls were in daily use for tea (and coffee on Sundays). By the 1980s they had vanished, having been replaced by ordinary cups and saucers. (Note - two items replaced one). Why?

I can think of several reasons (not in their order of importance) to return to using kiff bowls.

- There was a long tradition of using bowls, dating from the school’s foundation, I presume. Why break that tradition?
- Kiff bowls are easy and practical to use and wash, for only one item is involved.
- Kiff bowls are not expensive. In my kitchen I have bowls virtually identical to simple, white kiff bowls. They are readily available.
- Kiff bowls could serve another purpose if necessary (such as containing soup/salad/etc at lunch when they are not otherwise used, although this was never done in my days). Cups and saucers cannot have such a dual role.
- I recall that in a Library showcase there were displayed, for a while, nineteenth century, decorated kiff bowls. (The pattern was a curlicued CH crest in a blue glaze.) I do not know if these were bowls ever in daily use or not. But if such bowls were reintroduced for normal use, then a variety of suitably decorated bowls could be made available for purchase by nostalgic OBs. Who knows, this could become a valuable source of revenue.
- In my day there was an affectionate regard for the bowls, at least from those who ever thought about their beverages’ containers.
- Finally, to anticipate the objection that a kiff bowl contains more than a normal teacup, there are three observations. I don’t recall any significant waste of tea or coffee when kiff bowls were used. Some persons drink two cups of these beverages. (I think a kiff bowl contains the volume of about 1½ cups.) There is no reason to fill a bowl if one’s thirst is not great.

Could a Kiff Bowl petition be organised? (Alas I cannot do this, for pressing reasons.)

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 12:20 pm
by sejintenej
in addition to Richard's post:
Those we used were thick and very strong; cups (especialy) and saucers are relatively thin, chip frequently and do break easily
I agree that there are alternative uses - and even for puddings such as rice pudding, sponge and custard (and at CH the hated tapioca).

There is an age old saying - KISS as in keep it simple, stupid. getting rid of something old which actually works and substituting something all "mod" seems to be the modern crime; what a pity CH has gone down that route.

As for Richard's plea, I can't see them turning the clock back; it would make someone look stupid.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:38 pm
by postwarblue
Some years ago touring in France our B&B served our breakfast coffee in bowls just like Kiff bowls for size and shape. I knew how to pick mine up!

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Tue Apr 11, 2017 2:23 pm
by J.R.
postwarblue wrote:
Mon Apr 10, 2017 7:38 pm
Some years ago touring in France our B&B served our breakfast coffee in bowls just like Kiff bowls for size and shape. I knew how to pick mine up!

Quite so Robert.

I remember well being surprised when travelling by road down to the South of France and stopping at a roadside bistro/cafe for breakfast and getting strong coffee in a large bowl. Memories of the dining-hall came flooding back.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 2:59 pm
by Katharine
The bowls were used at Hertford too, I think there were a very few of the decorated ones but the vast majority were plain white. There were two sets for each House, one kept in the Dining Hall, the other in House, as we ate in House each evening. The House ones were replaced by mugs in my time, these were more or less in House colours. We used bowls for breakfast tea in Dining Hall all my time.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:28 pm
by jhopgood
Am I the only one who as a squit had to serve kiff in those bowls? It took more than a few tries to get it right so that fingers were not scalded, nor bowls tipped up as one tried to set them on the table.
I was relieved at the beginning of my second term to become a swab and not have to do trades again.
It is easier to carry and serve two plates in each hand than a kiff bowl in each.
However, we have some kiff bowl lookalikes from IKEA which are great for drinking soup, a la kiff.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:36 pm
by Katharine
It was quite a skill serving the tea, filling the bowls from the urn so none spilt. As far as I remember we had seniors carrying the full bowls down the length of the table not juniors. Were we, at Hertford, just wiser than the lot at Horsham?

I have just got back from a holiday and n Uzbekistan, where we had tea in bowls at most meals. These bowls must have held about quarter the volume of a CH one. At first I picked them up as a good CH girl would, but our Uzbek tour guide corrected my hold, no finger inside and the little finger curling round the base.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:13 pm
by sejintenej
jhopgood wrote:
Wed Apr 12, 2017 5:28 pm
Am I the only one who as a squit had to serve kiff in those bowls? It took more than a few tries to get it right so that fingers were not scalded, nor bowls tipped up as one tried to set them on the table.
In Col A every squit had to do it
I was relieved at the beginning of my second term to become a swab and not have to do trades again.
You were lucky; we put squits on trades for their first year and they became swabs in their second year. I can't remember how I sorted out a mismatch between 2nd year boys and the monitors, each of whom needed a swab.
It is easier to carry and serve two plates in each hand than a kiff bowl in each.
Yes; AFAIR two bowls per hand was the limit but with flat plates three in one hand and two (sometimes three) in the other was almost obligatory. (I can still do three with no problem provided herself hasn't loaded too much gravy/custard)

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 7:48 am
by seajayuu
Hi Katharine. I was "de-monned" for organising a slow tea race on the last breakfast of term. The previous term we had got into bother for having our usual tea race (which I agree was potentially a bit dangerous), so I reckoned a slow race might be fun. DR took a different view and I had my mons badge ceremonially removed.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 11:39 am
by J.R.
sejintenej wrote:
Wed Apr 12, 2017 8:13 pm

Am I the only one who as a squit had to serve kiff in those bowls? It took more than a few tries to get it right so that fingers were not scalded, nor bowls tipped up as one tried to set them on the table.

I did it quite happily in Coleridge B, and therefore gained the nick-name, Tetley !!

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Thu Apr 13, 2017 3:25 pm
by Fitzsadou
There was another hazard to having the trade of Tea Boy. (Was it called Kiff boy in other houses?). Some unpleasant seniors (very rarely monitors) would inspect my thumb after I delivered their tea, looking for “Thumb Juice”. If a wet thumb was detected, the tea was sent back and replacement bowl demanded.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:49 am
by michael scuffil
As house captains, I remember we felt ourselves very superior having cups and saucers for our tea (poured from teapots) on the dais.
Mrs Johnson was an opponent of kiff bowls, and always wanted to introduce cups and saucers. As she got her way on most things, I don't know who can have opposed her so powerfully.

I was served a cappuccino in a bowl only last week somewhere in S. Germany -- I forget which café exactly.

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:46 pm
by jhopgood
Some of the coffee cups in M & S are almost the size of kiff bowls but with handles

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:25 pm
by J.R.
jhopgood wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:46 pm
Some of the coffee cups in M & S are almost the size of kiff bowls but with handles
Come on John !! Handles are for pansies ! Are you not sure that they could be soup bowls for people who don't like using a spoon?

Re: Time to bring back Kiff Bowls?

Posted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 1:18 pm
by sejintenej
J.R. wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 5:25 pm
jhopgood wrote:
Wed Apr 19, 2017 3:46 pm
Some of the coffee cups in M & S are almost the size of kiff bowls but with handles
Come on John !! Handles are for pansies ! Are you not sure that they could be soup bowls for people who don't like using a spoon?
Jumping to conclusions, J.R.? Typical peeler! He was simply stating a fact, not opinionising!