Monday, April 1, 2013

Fork Combat - European vs. American vs. ?

American or European? It's your choice, obviously, but the shifting of hands favored by the "American" style seems pointless. Not to mention, in today's dangerous society, one should always have a firm grip on one's knife with the dominant hand. This is especially applicable when eating at large chain restaurants with buffets, where violence is commonplace (Tip: avoid the rush when the kitchen brings out fresh waffles or shrimp). With the exception of some specially designed self-defense forks from the South Pacific, forks in general make poor choices for weapons.

From Wikipedia:

European style

The European style, also called the continental style, is to hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right. Once a bite-sized piece of food has been cut, it is conducted straight to the mouth by the left hand. The tines remain pointing down.
The knife and fork are both held with the handle running along the palm and extending out to be held by thumb and forefinger. This style is sometimes called "hidden handle" because the palm conceals the handle.

American style

In the American style, also called the zig-zag method, the knife is initially held in the right hand and the fork in the left. Holding food to the plate with the fork tines-down, a single bite-sized piece is cut with the knife. The knife is then set down on the plate, the fork transferred from the left hand to the right hand, and the food is brought to the mouth for consumption. The fork is then transferred back to the left hand and the knife is picked up with the right.[3][7] In contrast to the European hidden handle grip, in the American style the fork is held much like a spoon or pen once it is transferred to the right hand to convey food to the mouth.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Faux Ferrous Forkery

You know that sensation when you pick up a jar or box you think is full, but it's actually empty and nearly weightless? That's the sensation you get when you first grasp the Silver Visions 7" Heavy Weight Silver Plastic Fork. I recently encountered this specimen at a breakfast function, and, I have to say - barring the obvious safety hazard - I came away impressed!

Slightly transparent.
Plastic forks? I can hear you all screeching out there. Stop it. There is a right fork for every occasion. First of all, these are Heavy Weight, which makes all the difference, and mitigates the awkward suspension of disbelief required to use one of these inexpensive (not cheap!) dining tools.

For a no-name forkery like "Silver Visions," these are certainly not collector pieces or worthy of any consideration by flatware aficionados.
However, with the right tablecloth and subdued lighting, you can achieve a nice effect. If you don't need to impress people, these are a great choice for impromptu entertaining on a medium-to-large scale. They even have a kind of kitschy appeal.

I can't say much for their inherent quality. They are on the heavier side of plastic forks I have used, but are not the sturdiest (see here). I will repeat here my concerns about safety. A reasonable person, when confronted with a reasonably sturdy looking metal fork, will exert a certain amount of force when hoisting the implement. In the case of the faux ferrous fork, this could result in serious injury. Being interested in forks, I always pick up forks gently, so I was immune to the effects of this trickery. Others in my party were not so fortunate.

Lessons learned!

Construction: C
Balance: C
Grip: B
Mouth Feel: C 
Stabbiness: C

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Heavy Weight Forks in Frosty White

I know, it sounds like some kind of Avant-garde piece of art from the 1960s, right? "Heavy Weight Forks in Frosty White No. 3," or something, by Andy Warhol (who strangely avoided forks his entire career. Why?).

I gotta tell ya, forkateers, I was initially blown away by the quality of this piece (unknown forkery), and at a baby shower, nonetheless. The handle, the grip (even a nice finger-guide detent at the neck - rare, indeed), the aesthetics — win, win, win. The only weak part, sadly, is the tines. Come on', folks! You were so close to getting a perfect Tinezone score, but ya skimped on the tines, didn't ya?

The tines are flimsy and unacceptable for anything but cake. I was afraid (seriously) that a tine would break loose and puncture my palette. This is clearly a failure of the engineering department. It makes no sense as a cost-saving design, because so much high-quality plastic went into the handle. So close, so close. I weep.

Construction: A
Balance: C
Grip: A
Mouth Feel: F 
Stabbiness: D 

Monday, March 5, 2012

How to Use a Fork

I have a few quibbles with this article, but, overall, it does a decent job. - How to Use a Fork:

A not as common, but still frequently usage of a fork is to kill somebody.
Using a fork to kill someone IS NOT ALLOWED, it mostly involves having (bad) luck (depends on point of view) and using enough force to thrive the fork deep enough into the flesh of the victim.

A good place to put the fork is in the throat, under the clavicle, in a vital organ...

(I suggest you don't try this at home)
Matter of fact I beg you to never kill anyone.
(this is for "enterainment use only)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A 'meh' fork for 'meh' food

Walco is a fine company. They celebrated their centennial anniversary in 2010. They have many fine offerings in 18/10, some of which you could even call stylish. However, like all mainstream forkeries, their bread & butter is in lower-end restaurant and buffet cutlery. Today, this particular Mexican restaurant chose to pair its bland, indistinctive, pedestrian lunch special with the kind of fork that leaves you decidedly non-plussed. The fork is not really worth reviewing — just like the restaurant. I won't go back, that's for sure. In this case, the fork is only *part* of the problem.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Nacho Conundrum

One of our merry forksters writes, "What kind of fork is the best to use on nachos? I'm always screwing that up." Ah, the nacho problem. We've been there, done that, and we're here to help.

Here's the problem in a nutshell for the unenlightened: You serve up a awesome platter of steaming, cheesy nachos, and everyone is happy, right? Sure. Maybe. Until they try to hoist your fabulous fare onto their plates with . . . a spatula? Tongs? A SPOON??!

All of these solutions result in a huge mess, wasted food, injuries, and lawsuits. A fork is always the right answer, obviously, but which one? A lot of people forget that nachos are primarily two-dimensional food. Without getting into a lot of physics here (ha!), what I'm trying to say is that you're basically trying to serve 2D ("flat") food to 3D ("lumpy") people. This requires a utensil with the right amount of leverage and lift, but, most importantly, torsional attitude. Two words: TWO TINES. I know you're thinking "barbecue tools," but hold on a second, cowboy! All a fork needs to be a fork is two tines. Count 'em. Two.

The two-tined fork is perfect for serving the nacho chip. Secure the tines on both sides of the chip, twist slightly, and lift the nacho free from the serving (base) plate to the receiver plate in one smooth motion. Repeat. Simple as that.

In the two-tined world, there aren't that many choices, so I'm going to make a quick recommendation with the American Metalcraft 11" Mirage Two Tine Fork. It's a good value from a reliable forkery and should solve most of your nacho issues. Take the usual precautions with a reduced-tine-pitch implement and keep the tines down at all times and you should be fine. For sanitary and safety reasons, keep the nacho fork away from your mouth.

NEXT UP: Fork Safety!

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Emergence of Forks as Refined Cutlery

The Emergence of Forks as Refined Cutlery « Jane Austen's World
Poor Miss Manners is always having to explains why Americans hold forks in their right hands as opposed to Europeans, who use their left hand to spear their food. Have American table manners deteriorated? Or are we following an historic tradition?