Sunday, January 29, 2012

Fork, Knife, and Spoon

Can we just admit we all have our quirks?  I have many.  One is silverware.  I cannot stand big heavy silverware.  My friend Carol loves weighty silverware but for me it ruins the eating experience.  Most people who know me well, indulge me  if I eat at their house, they know I want the smallest fork, spoon, and knife they've got.

In my family we ate with this lightweight very simple silverware that I loved.  When I was getting married and wanted to buy a set of my own, I only found out that it came from the university my Uncle Charley went to  but we had an entire set that must have been pilfered over years!  I find it hard to believe.

When my husband proposed to me (on my birthday) I knew as soon as we told anyone, we’d be bombarded with questions I couldn't answer and I wanted to avoid that.  Before we told a soul, we spent three weeks deciding the big stuff: got the rings, picked the date, the china, and the silverware.  The silverware was tough.  

I’d grown up with the Wallace Silver standard: Grand Baroque  possibly the most ornate pattern you could have.

My mother had Wallace’s Rose Point and I always sensed that it was a let down to her not to have Grand Baroque.  When it came time for my silver, I jumped ship and chose Towle’s Chippendale for its utter simplicity, elegance, clean lines, and light weight.  Simply magnificent.  The women in my family were shocked.

We moved into a one-bedroom apartment that was actually pretty great for Manhattan. Except for the pink and gray 50s bathroom (and the screaming schizophrenic who lived across the alley behind us nightly hollering his warnings that the Queen was coming with her royal Gilette razors to kill us all) the only real drawback was the kitchen.  I remember Susan's six-year-old daughter Sara saying, "I LOVE your kitchen!"  When I asked her why she explained it was the only frig where she could reach everything in the freezer.  True, the kitchen had a tiny frig, but there was a four-burner stove, large sink, and even a narrow high window that looked out onto the air-shaft.  There wasn't an inch of counterspace. Honestly.  The stove, sink, and frig were jammed up against each other with not an ounce of counter, not a single drawer.  Opposite, we squeezed in an assemble-it-yourself, six-foot-high yellow plastic étagère to pile up the pots, the canned goods and the cereal.  We took off the upper cabinet metal doors to decrease the claustrophobia. And my sister’s friend Kiwi sent us a caddy of hanging silverware that could sit on the window's nine-inch ledge.  It was very space-saving, clever, and clunky.  I referred to it as "Swedish Surgical” because it seemed very modern and solidly utilitarian. It worked for that kitchen but I did not enjoy eating with it.

Years and years later when I knew we needed a new set of everyday, it took me months to find something with the right shape, style, and heft.  Oona flatware by Crate & Barrel. 

Still there was always a silverware issue when eating out. After years of complaining about restaurant silverware, a year ago that great husband I married gave me one of the absolute best Christmas presents I have ever gotten.  Wrapped and tied in a gray flannel pouch was the sweetest  child-sized fork, knife, and spoon! They were the perfect design, feel, and that carrying pouch!  My husband had trekked to Replacements and asked for “little silverware” to match a spoon I had.  They gave him a choice between two “youth set” patterns   AND  he chose the RIGHT one. (Mine is Frostfire; the other was a colonial pattern which would've made me grimace.)  

I love, love, LOVE it! I carry that silverware in my purse and take it out (to the astonishment of my companions and the wait staff) and I just adore it.  Gotta guard it like a hawk so that it doesn’t get scooped up at the end of the meal.  That present has made me so happy. (BIG points for the husband.)

This Christmas to my surprise and delight, silverware was a big theme.  Before the holiday, Lynn sent me a fork and spoon of her son’s but I called to thank her laughing “Lynnie these are baby utensils!  I use child-sized ones  these are TOO tiny!”

My daughter gave me two darling little spoons that are perfect to eat ice cream and puddings with.  I keep one in my office drawer for yogurt.  

Next I opened an amazing set from Nancy that she found in the Museum of Modern Art gift shop…a three-piece set that not only fits together but has a smart red plastic cap that clamps over the tops making it great to pack up and transport home once your silverware is dirty!

Then Carol gave me designer Erik Bagger’s “Harmony  children’s culinary set, designed with the usual sense of form, function, and aesthetics.”  Quite the design statement from the Danes!

And finally, in a master stroke of combining my love of silverware, art, and skyscrapers, my friend Thelma gave me a very special plate from uncommon goods which, besides being beautiful, also supports New York-based food rescue organization City Harvest.  Silverware as skyscrapers.

So I am rich with small silverware  no more needed!
All of a sudden the odd thing is, I never seem to have a set with me when I need one.

[Thank you to all the manufacturers and Replacements for providing the photographs on their websites.]

1 comment:

  1. Mel, I love this post -- even though the flatware I picked out several years ago is the very substantial Vera Wang "Pure." (I almost wondered is it too heavy? But no!) At least I have my German coffee spoons and cake forks for dessert!