What is a monkey dish?

Updated: 10/6/2023
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15y ago

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The monkey dish is a small dish with many uses while in the kitchen cooking. Especially useful for holding small amounts of ingredients, such as herbs. The dishes are approximately 4-1/2" diameter. You can also use them for holding relishes, or dippings of various types.

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15y ago
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9y ago

There are a number of theories as to how the monkey dish got its name. One of those theories that seems to make a lot of sense is that is because of the hats that the bell hops wore. Those hats looked a lot like those worn by the monkeys who accompanied the organ grinder. When they brought those small dishes up to guests, they began being called a monkey dish.

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9y ago

There are many stories of the origin of the term 'monkey dish', but none of them are verified. Here are a few of them:

It is a bowl the size a monkey would use.

It is a bowl that was originally made from a monkey's skull.

It is a shallow bowl the size of a monkey's hand.

Royalty once had small portions of their food fed to monkeys to be sure it wasn't poisoned.

Bell hops wore caps similar to those worn by organ grinder monkeys. The bell hops became known as 'monkeys,' and the smaller dishes were used by these 'monkeys' to serve in-room guests. French: missed dish. A chef's effort that didn't come out quite good enough for the main course but is yet suitable for a smaller side serving.

A monkey dish is the small shallow dish in which a side dish such as cole slaw or applesauce is served. The main purpose is to separate a cold or watery side dish from the main course, or to provide extra holding space if the main plate is full.

The name is derived from the idea that it's just big enough for a monkey to dine from. They are typically four-and-one-eighth inches in diameter and hold 3.5 ounces. They are not quite big enough to eat ice cream from, but they serve as excellent saucers for ice cream bowls.

The origin for the term monkey dish can be attributed to the "brass monkey" which is what cannonballs were placed on for storage on a ship. It was made of wood with brass holders, thus the term of the brass monkey becoming a monkey dish is a conclusion that I have come up with. From at least 30 years ago I wondered the origins of the name monkey dish, recently came upon an auction site for naval relics and they had brass monkeys for sale which looked exactly like a monkey dish in size.

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