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Abandoning the Saucer - Part I

The Divorce of the Cup & Saucer

Mark J. Williams
A very ridiculous fad has plagued the United States for the last 30 years, and it is beginning to spread to the rest of the civilized world. No level of society has been spared, and all places have been affected: private homes, businesses, restaurants, stores…

coffee mugs without saucers

Bourgeoise tableware sold without saucers for the cups/mugs, although some elegant china sets like the one below are still available

I’m referring to the comically absurd custom of serving coffee or tea in a mug or a cup without a saucer. Today, after 30 years of this fad, and the advent of new generations, increasingly few persons know the very good custom of using a saucer with coffee and tea. Unfortunately, of those who still know the custom, even fewer bother to follow it, preferring instead to follow the fashion and judge the use of a saucer as pretentious, superfluous, a waste of time and effort…

Following the inscrutable (I would say schizophrenic) pendulum-swing that characterizes fashion trends, marketers in department store catalogs will very often sell tableware sets with no coffee-related saucer. Perhaps they are following the tone set by the paranoid pseudo-medical establishment, which often changes its mind on the liceity of coffee: One year, they say: “Coffee will give you cancer.” The next, they say: “The best thing for your health is to drink a cup a day”…

Even as customs continue to degrade, there are still china sets sold by respectable companies for upscale customers that include cup-and-saucer. But the more “middle class” companies of tableware, like the ones found in those ubiquitous department store catalogs, tend to follow the revolutionary trends more closely.


A sure recipe for staining the tablecloth

At times, these bourgeoisie marketers even present pictures with coffee cups without saucers sitting straight on a tablecloth. Any civilized person immediately wonders: Do the so-called experts who design these catalogs stop to remember the ugly side effects of coffee cups served sans saucer?

Needless to say, the glossy photos don’t show the consequences – I mean to say the ignoble brown stain that is a coffee ring – that follows from such an imprudence…

The trend in homes today

But, this ugly trend of having cups without saucers is not confined to the shiny pictures in catalogs. No, even private homes swing with the pendulum of fashions.


Lovely teacups & saucers displayed like antiques - to admire but not use

When saucers are even to be found in a home today, they are usually just articles of decoration, sitting unused with a matching cup, collecting dust on a shelf. The mediocre person sees the china on the shelf and says, “How pretty!” But that is the extent of his thinking. The antique novelty that delights his eyes has no practical difference from the other decorative objects hanging on the wall nearby. Admiration is not transformed into action.

I hope to change this. The admiration any normal person has for the beautiful custom of cup-and-saucer (even if masked behind false platitudes, e.g. “But to use a saucer is a waste of time and effort”) must be converted into concrete, counter-revolutionary action. After nearly 30 years of this egalitarian fad, it is high time to challenge it!

That is my purpose with this series: To explain what the saucer is, which will intrinsically vindicate it. Also, to assuage the American utilitarian mentality, I intend to show how the custom of the saucer is not useless, but has a purpose. I also wish to point out why this excellent custom is disappearing: It is no accident, but part of a systematic effort by the Revolution to destroy and debase everything beautiful and hierarchical in these dreary remnants of Christian Civilization.

What is a saucer?

To TIA’s cultured readers, no doubt the question “What is a saucer?” may seem quite elementary, even foolish. But I beg their indulgence. I want to start with this basic question because basic ideas – in our case, the idea of ‘saucer’ as such – have been tainted with misconceptions.

vienna coffee shop

Businessmen in Vienna sip coffee in a dignified ambience; below, modern American businessmen take a coffee break at Starbucks

This is the work of the Revolution: the same Revolution that spreads vulgarity and egalitarianism is changing our understanding of good customs through bad education and bad examples.

A concrete example of this bad education is found in today’s youths, who are taught to imitate aborigines as model ideals, an idea spread through the proliferation of rap music. Simili modo, is it any surprise that today’s youths go to Starbucks for 50-oz plastic big gulps of multi-flavored sugar sludge, rather than taking real coffee in an dignified way, in a cup and saucer?

Let us proceed to examine the saucer as such. It is a small circular dish, differing from other plates of similar size (like bread plates) in that it has a much wider lip. The well, a round, concave region in the middle of the dish, is only large enough for the base of the coffee or tea cup to fit there. Used normally, a saucer holds a coffee or tea cup easily and avoids it to slide.

In order to make this definition clearer, I also want to address a potential mistake in terms. Some people – although perhaps it is just me – like to use the terms “Coffee Saucer,” or in the case of tea, “Tea Saucer.” Both terms are technically correct, but I think they are also a tad redundant.

The expressions “Coffee Saucer” and “Tea Saucer” only make sense in households where separate saucer sets are used for the coffee and tea cups. But today’s households that maintain the custom of cup and saucer, for better or worse, out of necessity or convenience, often use the same set of saucers for both the coffee and tea cups. Sometimes even the coffee and tea cups are used interchangeably because today they are identical or so similar that they are easy to mistake.

coffee tea

The coffee cup at left, the tea cup at right

This is not to say I approve the custom of using the same cups-and-saucers indiscriminately for both coffee and tea. No, indeed, I think it is much more appropriate to keep the sets separated. But I understand, in certain homes, it is inconvenient or simply impossible to follow this practice. My purpose here, after all, is to restore the use of the saucer, not – at least not yet! – to dictate separate cupboards for the coffee-and-tea ware.

Having set out a general panorama of the custom of cup-and-saucer as it stands in the civilized world today, I close, for now. In my next article, I shall discuss the history of this very noble custom and its origins in the Oriental world, and later Christian Civilization. Parallel with and in addition to this history, the reader will learn why this custom is so useful, a point the American reader will especially appreciate.



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Posted August 14, 2019

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