offering plate

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Senior Member

What do you call a big but shallow plate (or something else), which is used especially at feasts, and is on the table so that everybody can take food (meat, especially, and not liquid!) from it? I don't have a context, only want to describe a picture.

  • foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    I think of platters as large plates where food is piled directly on them. A salver is more like a fancy version of a tray. I would expect salvers to be used to carry glasses or cups, or perhaps petits-fours or canapes on little paper doilies.

    Salvers are also often be made of silver-- whereas platters are part of a china service. We do talk about things being served up on a silver platter, but I'd expect them to be on plates rather than dumped directly onto the tray. I guess now that I visualize it, only a round tray would also be called a platter.

    Square trays are more mundane, especially the ones that are sectioned off-- the kind you see in cafeterias and mess halls.

    Another distinction is that trays are used to carry food, and platters are set in place-- except for the aforementioned silver platters, which are often brought to the diner by white-gloved waiters.

    Of course I'd be disappointed if the food I was served on a silver platter wasn't covered by one of those silver domes you see in movies-- to keep it warm, of course, and lend an element of surprise to the presentation.
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