Save The Spoon

Regardless of what you’re hungry for, the next time you dine out, I’m going to change the way you look at your next meal. There’s something you’ve enjoyed at every feeding that is fast be-coming extinct.

No, it’s not the snowy egret or the flamingo. Although I’ve been told they both taste like chicken, few of us have dined on those through the years. What I’ve noticed missing is actually not on the plate. It is next to it.

Gone, gone perhaps forever, is the spoon.

Have you noticed? It took my friend, Brian, to bring it to my attention. He likes sweetener in his iced tea, and goes livid every time he has to stir his beverage with a knife or fork. Each time we dine at a restaurant, he sets the tone for indigestion when he asks the waiter to retrieve a tea-spoon for his drink.

“What’s a guys supposed to do to get a spoon around here?”

The spoon used to be the mainstay of our table setting. It is the oldest of our utensil trinity. The fork wasn’t innovated until conceived by the Ancient Greeks and Persians in the fourth century. The knife dates way back 1.8 million years when early humans discovered how hard it was to pierce dinosaur flesh with chop sticks.

Nevertheless, we were all gatherers of food long before we became meat eaters, and let’s face it, there’s little reason to stab a raspberry.

The word itself gives us a clue to its antediluvian ancestry. “Spoon” is derived from the Scandi-navian/German “Span”, which means “chip of wood”. I imagine that our caveman forerunners finally got tired of scooping Ranch™ dip with their fingers at their Super Bowl™ parties.

The spoon is the most elegant of our dinnerware. It is smooth, with inviting lines and soft rounded edges. It is graceful and welcoming — almost intimate. Lovers “spoon”. And when we snuggle, front to back, with our knees folded inside the bend of our partner’s knees, that’s called “spooning”.

Split up, and we are knifed in the back.

We give babies spoons! Who wants to be impaled by flying peas? We don’t introduce babies to forks until age 15 months, and let kids have knives until they are much older … age seventeen, in some cases.

Today, unroll the napkin shrouding your dinnerware next time you eat out, and you will normally find only a knife and fork. Often, you’ll find a knife and two forks, which is awfully pretentious. I’ve discovered very little food that is so delicious that we need to shovel it in with both hands.

The only time a restaurant brings a spoon these days is if you order the soup. Even then, the utensil that arrives looks more like a ladle, with a scoop so wide they must have pinched it from Carol Channing’s silverware drawer.

I understand the reasoning. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We don’t order soup like we did in the past. We have sacrificed elegance for efficiency. Restaurants must wash every utensil that is brought to the table, regardless if it is used or not.

Personally, at the fancy establishments that I frequent, I believe that if restaurant owners just understood how hard it is to scoop out the last remnants of ketchup from those little white cups, they’d bring spoons back immediately.

Stick a fork in it. John O. Marlowe is an award-winning columnist for Sagamore News Media.