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Why is Commercial-Grade Flatware So Expensive?

Commercial Grade Flatware
Image Credit: Tax Credits, Creative Commons

A quick survey of the flatware market would show incredible differences between the prices of the low-end consumer flatware, and the high-end commercial flatware. The high-end commercial flatware can be up to 60 times more expensive that the low-end consumer flatware, if looked at the sets with the exact same number of pieces, and made from stainless steel. And sure, the prices should vary, but 60 times? Is there a particular reason behind such prices of commercial grade flatware?

You need to take a look at the low-end consumer flatware. These sets are really cheap to make because their manufacturers don’t invest a lot in their design, use materials of a lower quality, and use the cheapest manufacturing process. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – not everyone can afford the really expensive designer sets, and it’s not like everyone needs or wants them.

How do the makers of the cheaper flatwear cut corners to keep their price down? First of all, they probably don’t use the stainless steel of the highest quality. Stainless steel comes in different grades which designate the amount of nickel the alloy contains, with nickel being responsible for the rust resistance. Low rust resistance steel is designated with the numbers 18/0, which means it has 18% of chromium and 0% of nickel. Higher quality steel is designated with the numbers 18/8 or 18/10, which means it has 18% of chromium and 8 or 10% of nickel, making it more rust resistant. The low-end consumer stainless steel cutlery will have 18/0 steel, while the high-end will have 18/8 or 18/10. In fact, the best knives are actually made by combining two types of steel with different arrangements of molecules that give them different traits, which is something that’s never seen in low-end knives. And all that quality costs.

Second, as opposed to the high-end commercial-grade cutlery, low-end flatware manufacturers are less likely to invest into branding and design. If you take a look at Aava, which is a very high-end cutlery brand, you’ll see the value that emanates from the very shapes of the utensils. Someone has to make high-end cutlery look that good, and having that someone do it raises the cost of the product. Lastly, the manufacturing process – low-end flatware is usually manufactured by stamping it from sheets of stainless steel. This allows the manufacturers to produce a larger number of utensils in less time, at a lower cost. It also makes a product of a lesser quality than it would be if it was made by forging, which is how high-end cutlery is made.

While the regular consumer flatware sets will serve a regular household fine for years, it wouldn’t stand more than a couple of months of the abuse commercial-grade flatware has to take every day in restaurants. So, the real reason why high-end, commercial-grade flatware is that expensive is because it has to be, in order to achieve the level of quality that will allow it to perform well in the environment for which it was designed.

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5 Reasons Tealights Are Great Decoration for a Table

Image Credit: m01229, Creative Commons
Image Credit: m01229, Creative Commons

When it comes to decorating a dinner table, it would seem that there’s very little room to be creative in everyday life. Wedding table decorations tend to be extravagant, but at your home or in a restaurant, it always boils down to a couple of choices.

Perhaps you’ll have the small vase with a flower for a touch of romance. Or a big old candlestick, always a tad risky on a smaller table; it’s easy to knock down. For a bit of formal flair, you’ve got the centerpiece. Then you have the humble tealight, which despite a few shortcomings offers great decorative value. Here are our top five reasons to invest in a few:

  1. Tealights are romantic.

Well, they have to be, because they are basically short candles contained in small metal or plastic cups that prevent the wax they’re made of from dripping around, allowing them to be small and burn for a couple of hours. In a situation where a light is dimmed, a tealight or two will provide plenty of atmosphere in a very discreet way. For even more atmosphere, and more light, it is possible to get tealights with clear plastic cups that let even more light through.

  1. They are inexpensive.

The real expense associated with tealights might come from the holders that can be used for them. But even they don’t have to be expensive, and usually aren’t unless you’re going for high-end decorative holders like Aava’s. Tealights themselves cost next to nothing, and because they don’t drip and have flat bottoms, you don’t have to use a holder with them at all.

  1. But if you do want to use holders, you’ll have plenty of choice.

The choice of tealight holders is incredible. You can easily find a holder for any occasion and any price in any style. If you want marvels of design, you can get them. If you want cheap and pretty, you have those as well.

  1. They are useful.

They have a use that is not purely decorative. Tealights can be used to heat things up or keep them warm. It’s possible to find teapot sets designed to be used with tealights.

  1. They can be used with a table of any size.

Tealights don’t take up much space at a table, so they work well with tables of all sizes. They don’t cost much either. The sight of a large table lit by the glow of a dozen tealights is always worth the effort.

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Setting the Stage: Table Setting Tips for Every Occassion

Setting the table
Image Credit: Didriks, Creative Commons

For the most part, setting a table isn’t the hardest thing in the world to do, even though it’s not as easy as just getting your Aava flatware and placing it within hand’s reach from where you’ll be sitting. There are a few simple rules to it, and if you follow those, you should be able to tackle setting a table for any occasion. That is, any occasion accept the most formal ones, which tend to be a bit more complicated. The rules are straight forward – the utensils that are used the first are placed the first, the utensils that are used last are placed closer to the plate. Knives and spoons are placed on the right side of the plate, while the forks are on the left. At least, that’s how it usually goes.

Let’s take a look at the most basic set table, the one you would use for a family lunch at home. The plate is in the center, as it always is because that’s where the food will be. If you plan to start your meal with a soup, the first utensil that is placed is the spoon. It goes to the right, with enough space between it and the plate for the knife. You will also need a separate plate, or a bowl, for the soup, and you should place it in the plate from which the main course will be eaten. The main course is something that requires you to use a knife and fork, so the knife goes next to the plate on the right hand side, with the blade facing the plate. The fork goes to the left. If you eat bread, a bread plate is placed on the left side, above the fork. A napkin is placed left from the forks, and a glass for water is placed on the right side, above the knives and spoons.

An informal table setting, for a casual dinner with friends for example, is a bit more complicated. The same elements are still there – the plates are in the center, the spoon and knife are on the right, the fork on the left. The water glass is above the knife and spoon, the bread plate above the fork. A butter knife should be placed in the bread plate. If you plan to serve a salad, you’ll need an additional plate and a salad fork. The salad fork goes to the left of the fork used for the main course, and the salad plate can be placed either in the main plate, and removed when it’s time to eat the salad, or to the left of the forks, if there’s enough space for it. If the napkin is in the way, you can always place it on the plate. A wine glass should be placed to the right from the water glass, and if you plan to serve desert and coffee or tea after the meal, you can bring the plates and utensils for them after everyone’s finished eating the main course. The cup for tea or coffee is placed to the right of the wine glass, and a little bit lower, towards the spoons and knives.

For the formal setting, you would take an informal setting and add to it. To the right of the wine glass, you should add another glass for white wine. That would make the glasses be, from the left, a water glass, a red wine glass, a white wine glass. You might also want to add a sherry glass to the right of the white wine glass. If you’re serving fish, you should add a fish knife and fork, usually before the main course knife and fork, which means away from the plates. You should place the salad fork depending on when the salad is being served. The tea spoon, which is to be used after the meal, is not placed closest to the plates on the right side because knives are always closest to the plates, so it should go between the soup spoon and the knives. And lastly, if you want to set a formal table European-style, you should put a desert spoon and fork above the plates.

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Looks as Good as it Tastes? Why an Attractive Plate makes for a Tastier Meal

Modern Cuisines
Image Credit: waferboard, Creative Commons

The way we look at food has changed so much over time. Food has always been, and it still is, mostly about sustenance. However, we’ve started to think more about the quality of food, its origins, how it was raised.

We brought in ethics into how we feed ourselves. It makes sense, since we’re more aware of the world around us than we’ve ever been, and we’re more aware of the consequences our actions, and our desired, have on the larger scheme of things. But in the same time, we have also developed an insatiable thirst for pleasure. So, a single meal should taste good, but wouldn’t it be an added pleasure if it also looked good?

The fact of the matter is that eating has become an experience, especially when eating out in restaurants. Everything about the restaurant adds something to the experience – from the music that’s played, the waiting staff, the cutlery the restaurant used, the décor of the restaurant, right to the taste of the food, the amuse bouche served in an Aava set, and the quality of napkins we used to wipe our mouth at the end of the meal. All of these things fit in like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle to give us what we want from a dining experience, with new pieces constantly being added to make the puzzle more complex and satisfying. Presentation is one of those pieces.

But there’s more to presentation than just that. Presentation also means that the dishes have to be clean and whole. It also means that the meals should be served in appropriate vessels, with proper utensils ready to be used as soon as the plate is placed on the table, or when the food is placed on the plate. Good presentation is important because it makes things so much more practical. The aforementioned amuse bouche isn’t served in a highly stylized vessel just because it would look good – the vessel was specially designed to hold an amuse bouche. It’s beautiful and practical.

Of course, there’s the fact that if food is properly presented on the plate, you’ll be able to see what you’re eating. You’ll be able to discern the green stuff from the brown stuff, as kids would say, which is especially important if you’re eating out and you really need to know if the food you’re eating is the food you ordered. The way food is presented on a plate might also be an exercise of the chef’s visual artistry, because food today is not only presented, it’s also stylized. Playing with colors, textures, sizes and garnishing is something that’s done both while devising a meal and presenting it, and all that effort goes into it for one reason – so you can enjoy your food more.

And that you will do. This might not be a scientifically proven fact, but it is something many people have experienced – the same meal prepared with the same ingredients in the same way will taste better if it’s beautifully presented. Might be that evolution has programmed us to know that things that look better taste better – it would make sense, if you think about it. Ripe fruit looks better than rotting fruit, and it tastes better as well. But even if it’s for another reason, the important thing is that presentation is matters in modern cuisine because it allows us to enjoy food even more, and that counts for a lot.

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Cutlery, Crockery, Flatware, Silverware, Dinnerware… What’s the Difference?

Crockery
Image Credit: Didriks, Creative Commons

If you were to try shopping for utensils, plates, platters or glasses online, you would be amazed by the variety of things you could find. So many different places to buy from, so many different styles of forks and knives and decorated plates, and so many utensils that will help you serve your food. But then again, you might notice that a same set of knives, forks and spoons is called flatware in one store, cutlery in another, and silverware in a third store. You might find the set in the tableware category. It’s obviously the same set, but how can it be called four different names?

The names we give to different types of utensils, as well as different object that are used to contain food while we eat it, or contain beverages while he drink them, sometimes overlap. For example, flatware is a part of dinnerware. Sometimes, the terms can be used interchangeably, like dinnerware and tableware. And sometimes, the same term is used to refer to different things in different English-speaking countries, like cutlery.

In order to explain all of this, it would be best to start with the broadest of the terms – tableware and dinnerware. Tableware includes everything that’s need to set a table, serve food and then eat it. So, a wine glass can be a part of tableware, just as a soup ladle, or a fork, or a plate can. The plates, if they are made from ceramics and used for everyday eating, are called crockery, and a set of plates is called a service set. Items used for serving food, like bowls or serving plates, are sometimes called serveware, although the term isn’t so widespread.

It’s a bit more complicated with utensils. In general, all the utensils used for preparing, serving and eating food should be called cutlery. However, the term is used particularly for eating utensils, and in the United States it’s the knives and other utensils used for cutting that are called cutlery. Flatware is what they call all of the utensils in the United States, but they also might call them simply tableware.

The term silverware actually includes more than just eating utensils – all of the household’s items made from sterling silver are silverware. So candlesticks made from silver, silver challises, and silver platters are all parts of silverware. That is, of course, if the term isn’t used to refer to just about any eating utensil, like it sometimes is.

When it comes to drinking vessels made of glass, the situation is pretty much straightforward. Glassware includes drinking glasses and vases, but to narrow it down only to drinking implements, it would be best to say glass drinkware. If the drinking glasses have a flat bottom, like a table glass or a juice class, they fall in the category of tumblers. If they have a stem, like a wine glass does, they fall under stemware. And if they are very large, maybe have a handle, and are used for serving beer – well, then they are called beer glassware.

Of course, there’s many more ways to further divide all the things that can be seen on the dinner table. However, this should explain how a single set of knives, forks and spoons, like the one made by Aava, can be called so many different names.

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American and Continental Styles of Eating

Empty Dish
Image Credit: Paul Kelly, Creative Commons

We learn pretty early in our lives how to properly use utensils. We usually start off with a spoon, because it’s the easiest and safest. When we’re a bit older, and we can understand they can hurt us if we don’t use them properly, we can then move on to forks. And once we’re old enough to be given a sharp instrument, under the watchful eye of our parents we master the use of the knife. So, a kid in the United States, and a kid in Germany will possibly be learning the same things at the same time, but by the time they’re done, they won’t be doing the same thing. Why? Well, it’s not because of the utensils they use. You could, for example, use the same Aava flatware set to eat in the US and Europe, and it would work fine in both cases.

The difference is actually in the style of eating. In America – the US and Canada, they use a style that’s called either the American style of eating, or the zigzag method. In Europe, on the other hand, people eat using the Continental method.

In the zigzag method, just like in the Continental, people use spoons for soups and other meals that are eaten by spoons, they use their knives to cut up bigger chunks of food into smaller pieces, and they use the fork to hold down the bigger chunks while they’re being cut, and then to bring the smaller pieces to the mouth. In both methods, people hold the food that’s being cut with a fork that’s held in the left hand, while the knife is being used by the right hand. However, while a European would eat the smaller piece as soon as it’s cut with the fork that’s still in the left hand, an American would put the knife down, move the fork from the left hand into the right hand, and then eat the smaller piece. After that, the fork goes back into the left hand, the knife is picked up, and the whole dance begins again. Hence the name zigzag.

While this is the main difference between the Continental and the American eating styles, it’s not the only one. In both styles, it is considered to be rude to leave utensils on the table after they were used. This is a practical thing above all, as it wouldn’t be very nice of you to smear the tablecloth like that. So, if you want to take a break from the meal while you’re chewing and you plan to take a sip of a drink after, you need to put the utensils on the plate. In you imagine the plate to be a face of a clock, in the Continental style, the knife and the fork would indicate it is 4:40. The fork would be on the left side of the plate, with the tines pointing down, towards the plate. The knife would be on the right, with the blade pointed towards the fork. The fork and the knife can meet in the middle of the plate. In the American style, the knife is placed on the rim of the plate on the right side, with the blade pointing inwards while it’s not being used to cut food and the fork is in the right hand. That’s resting position for the knife. The fork’s resting position is the same a knife would have in the Continental style – 4 o’clock, with the tines pointing up, away from the plate.

Once you’re finished with the meal, both American and Continental styles require you to do the same thing – put the knife and fork next to each other at the 4 o’clock position. In both styles, the knife goes on the right, with the blade pointing towards the fork. The fork is placed with the tines pointing up in the American style, and the tines point down in Continental.

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5 Things You Didn’t Know About Flatware

Cutlery Set
Image Credit: eltpics, Creative Commons

When you think about flatware, which is something that happens only where you’re buying it or when you’re about to perform the chore of cleaning it, you might notice that, well, there’s not really that much to think about. The spoons and forks and knives we use every day are great, and we’re very lucky to have them, but they’re not all that thought-provoking. If you have a flatware set that’s superbly designed, like the Aava set is, it might spark a thought or two of appreciation, but still, it doesn’t seem there’s that much to know about flatware. But even with a thing that’s as simple as a fork, or a knife, there are always some things you didn’t know that might surprise you.

For instance, did you know that the use of really sharp and pointed knives was at a certain point outlawed in France? The mind behind the decision was the French King Louis XIV, also known as the Sun King. But he wasn’t the first to be displeased with how knives were used back them. The first person who found it disgusting how people used to cut their food with knives, then stab it in order to use their knives in lieu of forks was none other than Cardinal Richelieu, who was a pretty big deal in the court of Louis XIII, the Sun King’s father. Some 30 years before the sharp and pointy knives were outlawed, Richelieu gave the order to file down the sharp points of the knives to the point at which they couldn’t have been used for stabbing. Or picking teeth. What Sun King did, in 1669, was more motivated by the desire to reduce violence, so all knives – kitchen and personal, for every day carry, had to have their pointy tips removed, and their blades dulled.

The dull knives with rounded tips were in a great deal responsible for the method of eating we now know as the zig-zag, or American style of eating. People in Europe, if they want to be all proper and follow the etiquette, will eat with their knives in their right hand, and fork in the left hand. All the time. No switching of the fork between the left and the right hand, as people in the United States do. Well, that method of switching hands came about because with the rounded knives, you couldn’t really stab your food to eat, and you had to hold it down with something to cut it. Because forks weren’t in widespread use in the United States back then, they used a spoon to hold down the food with their left hand, while cutting with the right, and then they would switch the spoon to the right hand in order to scoop up the food. Europeans did the same thing up until the use of fork became widespread. Americans stuck to their guns even after they replaced the spoon with the fork, and that’s why today we have the American style of eating, and the Continental.

Continental is also the name given to a specific size of sterling silver flatware, because sterling silver flatware comes in three almost standardized sizes. Continental, the one that’s most popular in Europe, is the largest, with knives being ten and a half inches long, forks being eight and a half inches long, and soup spoons being slightly over seven and a half inches long. Of course, Europeans will likely convert the inches into centimeters, because they use the metric system of measurements. The dinner size sterling silver flatware is slightly smaller than the continental style – knives are nine and three quarters inches long, forks are eight inches long, and soup spoons are seven inches long. The smallest is the place size flatware, which is mostly popular in the United States. With a nine inches long knife, seven and a half inches long fork and seven inches long soup spoon, it’s also significantly lighter than the continental size flatware. Also, if you bring a tape measure with you when buying sterling silver flatware, you might notice that the actual sizes vary slightly – the numbers given here are averages, meant to show a rough proportion.

And while we’re at the topic of sterling silver flatware, if you own some and you believe it’s 100% silver – you’re wrong. It’s not. If you wanted a 100% silver, the closest you would be able to get would be fine silver, which is 99.9% pure. However, you can’t find fine silver flatware sets you would be able to use because pure silver is too soft. That’s why sterling silver contains 92.5% of silver, with the rest being something that will give it strength, like copper.

For the end, a piece of trivia about flatware you surely didn’t know – the first fork came to America in 1630. It didn’t come there on its own – it was carried there by the Governor of Massachusetts Bay Colony, a man named Winthrop. It was a lonely fork, however, as the Governor brought only one.

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Flatware in Numbers – How to Get What You Need

Aava Cutlery

Buying flatware is not something people do every day. The tools we use to eat are something people usually don’t think of as disposable, although there are plastic options for one use only available. No, flatware is bought as something that should last, something we get and then don’t have to think about for years if we properly maintain it. And it’s because of this that buying flatware requires some planning, or at least some thinking about the future. Will you throw fancy dinners? How many people do you expect to use it? What types of dishes do you plan to serve? All of these questions influence the choices you make when buying flatware. So let’s dive into it.

The first question, how fancy or formal will be the events you plan to host at your home will dictate the type of flatware you’re buying, and the number of flatware sets you need to have. There’s a difference between the flatware you plan to use for everyday eating, and the set you bring out only in special occasion. The set of choice for special occasions is, of course, silverware, although having a really high end set, like the one that’s made by Aava, can also work well. Having such a high end set can also be very useful if you don’t think you’ll host a lot of formal dinners, but you still want to be prepared for them. In that case, having a high quality set for everyday use which could also be used for special occasions would suffice. Otherwise, you’ll need to have at least two sets – one for formal, and one for everyday use.

The number of people you think will be using the flatware determines the size of the set you need, or the number of sets you will need to buy. A set that is a service for six is designed for six people, and within it you’ll find six forks, six spoons, six knives, six of everything that’s needed for a place setting. Service for eight will mean eight of everything, and so on. Sets are made for anywhere from four to sixteen people. So, if you know you’ll have weekly lunches with your extended family, getting a set that serves more people is something you should consider. Or, if you find a set you really like but it’s only for six people, and you plan to have ten or even twelve people over for a meal regularly, you might instead want to buy two of same set.

Now you need to think about what kind of dishes you plan to serve. If you’re not really that big on soup, or if you only plan to drink it from a bowl or a cup, you can get away with a three piece place setting, which contains a knife, a fork, and a teaspoon. In this case, the term place setting refers to the number of utensils needed to eat a meal. A flatware set for six three piece place setting will contain 18 pieces. Traditionally, you wouldn’t see a proper spoon until the five piece place setting because the four piece place setting adds a salad fork to the utensils found in the three piece place setting. However, in modern and more functional times, it’s very common to find sets that have four piece place settings that include a spoon instead of the salad fork. Other pieces that can be added to place settings include a butter spreader, an iced beverage spoon, and a seafood cocktail fork.

Another very important thing to keep in mind is that serving utensils can be a part of a set of flatware, but it’s not unusual to find sets that don’t contain them. If you, for example, look at a 101-piece service for twelve people, and do some math, you’ll figure out that it contains twelve eight-piece settings, plus five serving utensils. Some of the utensils that can be included in the set are a tablespoon, sugar spoon, gravy ladle, meat fork, pie server, soup ladle, serving spoon, and so on. If these are all a part of a set of flatware – great, but if they’re not, you can always buy them separately, either piece by piece, or in a set that’s usually called a “hostess set”. Some manufacturers might make separate flatware and hostess sets in the same style, so you can buy them separately and still use them without worrying if they fit together. In other cases, you’ll have to pay attention that the style of the hostess set is complementary to the style of the flatware. And you should always be sure that a hostess set contains as many of the serving utensils you will need, because everything you need and is not there will have to be bought separately, and you have to worry about matching it to your flatware all over again.

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Hybrid Cutlery – What’s so Great About It… and What’s Not

Spoon
Image Credit: Voiding Warranties, Creative Commons

Take a set of cutlery, like Aava’s. It has 24 pieces in it – six forks, six knives, six spoons and six small spoons. Each of the pieces in the set has a very clear purpose – the forks are there to pierce food so we can move it between the plate and its destination without getting our hands dirty. The knives are there to help us cut food into smaller pieces, so that we don’t have to tear it with our teeth or with our fingers. The spoons are there so that we don’t have to bring the whole plate to our mouth and drink soup. The small spoons are there so we can stir our tea, or maybe use them to eat desert. But what if you’d want a single utensil that can cut and pierce, or be used a small bowl and to cut or pierce. Or be used for all three things at the same times.

Well, there’s a solution for that. It’s called combination, or hybrid, cutlery. A hybrid of a spoon and a fork is called a spork. A combination of a spoon and a knife is called – a spife. A combination of a knife and fork is called a knork. And a hybrid of all three is called a sporf.

Because they were designed to perform more than just one function, hybrid utensils come with a promise of great practicality. There are plenty of situations one could think of where having a reduced number of utensils, but with more functions than one, would be beneficial. Eating in an airplane is one. So is eating while camping. Some fast food restaurants also like to use combination cutlery, and they are even used by military when out on the field. Combination utensils are really great when having fewer utensils mean fewer things to pack, carry around and take care of, as well as when it’s important to cut costs by reducing the number of utensils that are used and then thrown away.

So that’s what hybrid cutlery is good for. What it’s not good for is, well, using it for eating in normal circumstances. Basically, any situation when eating involves a table is a situation where there’s really no need to use combination cutlery. Just think about it – can you really eat a steak with a knork? You can’t, because you need a separate fork to hold the food in place while you’re using a separate knife to cut it. Actually, any combination of a utensil with a knife can only be used for very soft food effectively.

As for a spork, the hybrid between a spoon and a fork, it’s been used way before airplanes and fast food joints were invented, and it’s probably the only combination utensil you could actually see on a properly set table. There’s this thing called an ice cream fork, which is basically a spork, and it’s been used for eating ice cream in the 19th century. So technically, you could get away with adding a spork to a place setting if you’d call it an ice cream fork. As for the remaining members of the combination cutlery family, using them only when they’re the best possible choice should be the rule of thumb.

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What Do People Eat With in Different Parts of the World?

Meals
Image Credit: Devika, Creative Commons

Sometimes, it looks like we take our utensils for granted. It seems that the knife and the fork and the spoon have always been there, waiting for us to use them to bring precious sustenance closer to our mouth. By doing so, we keep ourselves from starving, and depending on the level of skill of the person preparing said sustenance, as well as the quality of ingredients, we also might actually enjoy the whole process of feeding ourselves. And once the meal is done, the same utensils would still be there, waiting for us to clean them so that they can be used over and over again.

The knife, the fork and the spoon have in fact been around for a long time, but their use as we know it today came about in Europe. Different countries adapted the use of each utensil at a different pace, but by the end of 18th century, most of the continent was using utensils that very much resembled those we use today. Of course, European countries being the colonial powers they were in those days, they have spread their cultural influence well beyond the borders of the Old World. That’s why today, a place setting of knife, fork, and spoon is something that can be found in every part of the world – even if the population of the country generally uses different utensils, there will always be restaurants that use flatware sets.

In Asia, however, eating utensils are very much different because the food culture there is different than in Europe. China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam have chopsticks as their traditional utensil. In China, chopsticks were used well before AD, which means the Chinese would, even then, cut their food into manageable pieces before preparing it. Some say it’s because it was more energy efficient to prepare it that way instead of in large chunks, and there’s also the fact they believed it was not particularly civilized for the food to resemble the animal it came from. So, the knife was very much in existence and in use in China to cut up food, but it’s just that it wasn’t used for eating with it. As Asian cuisine became popular in the rest of the world, more and more people became acquainted with chopsticks as the utensil to be used to eat it.

But even older than the chopstick, and still widely used around the world is – the hand and the fingers. Yes, before we, as a species, started developing utensils, our hands were pretty much all we had. They have served us well, and in India and Ethiopia, people eat with their hands to this day. Well, not only with their hands – both countries have their own types of flatbread that are used to scoop up food and then bring it to the mouth, but the point remains that for a very large part of the world, the preferred utensil is the one people are born with.

From high quality flatware sets of Aava, to simple bamboo chopsticks that get the job done and our hands which are arguably the most useful tool we have, people today have plenty ways of eating meals from any type of cuisine. Mixing and matching might be fun, if sometimes impractical, but the variety of utensils and the way they developed paints a picture of all the circumstances that were a major influence not only on their own development, but also the development of the cultures they are used in.