You probably don’t know this about me, but I have a bond with Lionel Richie. He doesn’t know it either, so don’t tell him. While growing up, I always knew the word Fiesta to mean dinnerware. As a child of the ’80s, I truly believed the song “All Night Long” gave a shout out to my favorite dishes. I guess I just assumed that his great-grandmother made amazing strudel and served it up on a multitude of wonderful colors, too.
We were very lucky to have our great-grandmother throughout most of our childhood. Besides being the nicest lady I’ve ever met, she made the most wonderful food and her house always smelled of fresh bread. As time went on, my mother inherited her beautiful dishes and continued to grow the collection, promising them off to Shelly and I when we were older. Until that time would come, she gave me the orange/red highly radioactive cake plate and a teapot to tide me over, and she gave Shelly some safer dishes. Basically, Shelly’s plate had less radioactive paint than mine and that’s how we can gauge our mother’s love for us. Well, that and which one of us would receive that amazing strudel recipe. (Still waiting, mom. But you could win back some points after the whole radioactive plate fiasco.)
If you don’t know about the radioactive Fiestaware, here is a quick lesson from thoughtco.com
Shortly after I purchased my first home at 22 years old, my mother gave me eight place settings of new Fiestaware for my birthday. It was 2001 Fiesta, so it was completely safe to eat off of the glaze. I was delighted.
I can’t help but romanticize my first home. It was a 900 square foot shotgun-style house built around 1840. It had gorgeous tall windows, tall ceilings, wooden floors, and it was pure heaven. I planted more than 100 tulips in the flower beds of that red brick wonder, and I pillaged the gardens of anyone who would share irises, butterfly bushes, or a Rose of Sharon. I was so blinded by its charm that I can still overlook a roach problem that I had to eradicate before moving in, and the neighbor who drank whiskey and stole water from my hose.
It was in this home that I would host my first dinners. I was gifted a 100-year-old table with creaky chairs. I would bathe it in vintage linen from the thrift store along with dollar store trinkets for decoration and my pride and joy of Fiestaware. I was still fresh out of college, so my guests were lucky to dine on macaroni and cheese with a side salad, but the company was good and the nightly shows from the neighbor were even better.
I wonder if Lionel (yes, I have decided we are now on a first name basis) actually had a neighbor that partied All Night Long too? I guess that’s just more conversational fodder for our inevitable meeting.
I don’t think another single piece of dinnerware exists that could bring me such pleasure and memories. Perhaps it’s the radioactive paint, but even when I notice a piece or two in my friends’ and family’s collections, it still warms my heart. Are you a Fiestaware nut? Please feel free to tell us about it in the comments. We would love to hear about your favorite pieces, too.