The folks over at the TheAtlantic.com have a great interview with Bee Wilson about her new book “Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat“.
They ask if somehow the introduction of eating utensils like proper flatware introduced problems rather than solutions to our teeth. A part of her response:
Until around 250 years ago in the West, archaeological evidence suggests that most human beings had an edge-to-edge bite, similar to apes. In other words, our teeth were aligned liked a guillotine, with the top layer clashing against the bottom layer. Then, quite suddenly, this alignment of the jaw changed: We developed an overbite, which is still normal today. The top layer of teeth fits over the bottom layer like a lid on a box.
What changed 250 years ago was the adoption of the knife and fork, which meant that we were cutting chewy food into small morsels before eating it. Previously, when eating something chewy such as meat, crusty bread or hard cheese, it would have been clamped between the jaws, then sliced with a knife or ripped with a hand — a style of eating Professor Brace has called “stuff-and-cut.
Read the full interview at the TheAtlantic.com or check out her book from Amazon.
So what do you call those tools that you use to prepare and put food in your mouth? I am speaking specifically of the fork, knife and spoon. Cutlery, flatware, utensils, tableware, silverware or what? Let’s look at some definitions:
Cutlery – 1. cutting instruments collectively, especially knives for cutting food. 2. utensils, as knives, forks, and spoons, used at the table for serving and eating food.
– 1. any of the instruments or vessels commonly used in a kitchen. 2.
any instrument, vessel, or tool serving a useful purpose.
Flatware – 1. utensils, as knives, forks, and spoons, used at the table for serving and eating food. 2. dishes or containers for the table that are more or less flat, as plates and saucers.
Tableware – the dishes, utensils, etc., used at the table.
Silverware – articles, especially eating and serving utensils, made of silver, silver-plated metals, stainless steel, etc.
After reading these definitions my vote is for cutlery as the others are either too vague or too inclusive. But here’s the rub, the Internet on the whole believes that cutlery is all about knives. If you look at the image with this article, you can probably understand why. And this isn’t a regional issue from what I can tell, we all have the same issue. It seems everyone only sees the word “cut” in cutlery.
Oneida is a major player in this game and there is no questioning it. Their history goes back to the 1880s with a interesting connection to the movement known as Perfectionism. The Mooncrest flatware set is actually a 18/0 stainless (contains no nickel) and dishwasher safe. It has a nice extended set that includes a serving spoon, pierced serving spoon, meat fork, butter knife, and sugar spoon. What is a pierced serving spoon you ask? Why it is a holey spoon of course.
Oneida Mooncrest 45-Piece Flatware Set, Service for 8
This 53-piece set from International Silver is a setting for 8 people with 8 steak knives, 2 serving spoons, a serving fork, butter knife and sugar spoon. It’s 18/0 stainless with a classic looking teardrop design and it is a good value. But it brought to me the question, what is Bead Flatware? I first thought it was bead blasted for a matte finish, but that isn’t the case. Bead cutlery or better named “beaded” is the decorative design of tiny little beads along the handles. So now you and I both know, we learned something today.
International 53-Piece American Bead Flatware Set