The three tine fork

Tool of the trade

Fork with bent tines (for efficient pricking of sausage casings)

Above all else, I am a functionalist — a pragmatist. I’ve had my design missteps over the years, including that which draws continued needling from my wife when proposed design solutions do not adequately address functionality. That long gone folly still delivers a tiny sting whenever I enter my wood shop in Shepherdstown.

Things have a form for a reason. A wing has a particular shape to generate lift. Cars with a single front wheel are dangerously tippy. Forks have four tines, not three.

If you have three tine forks in your home, I am so sorry. You have fallen into some form of a 17th century trap — where the fork was still in development from its roots as knife — as if you were dining for recreation at a tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. If you are a restauranteur and have three tine forks in your establishment, you had better be that tavern operator at Colonial Williamsburg. Otherwise, I can only imagine you were swindled by a commercial kitchen supplier when you stocked your restaurant with three tine forks. (Less steel = higher profit margin?)

Even in France, where western dining reached its apex some years ago, things have started to go amiss in the last 20 years or so. For the lovers of lists then, I give you:

  1. Forks have four tines. If your fork does not have four tines, you were sold something that is not a fork but an item stunted in its development as a fork.
  2. The rim of a plate is there for a reason. It is not for decoratively applied sauce.
  3. A salad is tossed in a bowl but served on a plate. (Yes, like many Americans I was raised with a small salad bowl on the side of our plate. Our salads were not tossed, however, and dressing was something applied from a bottle. This is a shameful practice which probably deserves its own position on this list.)
  4. If the beauty of your food presentation is spoiled with the first bite, the presentation is a failure. The last bite on your plate should look as appetizing as the first.
  5. Cappuccino must be served in a cup that is not taller than it is wide.

I hesitated to add an item about the shape of a plate here but, like many things, absolute declarations (my list above being the exception) always have a flaw. For in this world, one item must be served on an (almost) rimless oval plate.

About Richard Anderson

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