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What do they eat with where?


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What implements do they eat with in different areas and cultural traditions? We all know the obvious: fork/knife/spoon in most Western nations, chopsticks in much of the East (though not everywhere or for all dishes), hands in many other places. Let's make a list. Does anybody eat with anything else? Tongs? Straws? Shells?

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Bread.

Technically, fingers wrapped around bread.

In the west in the form of a sandwich, in other parts of the world in the form of some kind of "roll".

In Ethiopa, the bread actually doubles as a tablecloth and the food is picked up with the bread, as well as eaten inside of it.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Fast food restaurant patrons very often eat with something called a spork. A combination spoon/fork thingie. It has fan websites and everything. There's also something called a floon....

I actually hold patent rights to an eating utensil my Grandfather invented. It was never marketed, or even named - we just called it "Nanu's spaghetti spoon". It's not really a spoon, though. It looks like a cross between one of those pasta grabbers and a honey twirler thingie (not sure what that's called, either). We used to eat spaghetti with them all the time; my Grandfather made quite a few prototype sets, in various mediums (metal, ceramic, wood). It twirls the spaghetti into a perfect bite sized portion, and then (and here is the best part!) the sharp grabby protrusion bits cut off the excess. No batteries needed, no moving parts.

I never realised how weird that was until I read this thread. I wonder how many people design and craft their own customised eating utensils? :wacko:

There must be others....

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I never realised how weird that was until I read this thread. I wonder how many people design and craft their own customised eating utensils?  :wacko:

There must be others....

FG's grandfather created the Styrofoam cup but he couldn’t figure out the lid (he thought the lid had to be made out of Styrofoam too) so someone else beat him to the patent (I think that’s how the story goes). He was, in any case, an inventor—who never managed to quite pull it all together.

The Spork is certainly one of my favorite utensils--not because I particularly enjoy eating with it (it's a little difficult to scoop up any liquid with the Spork on account of the pointy teeth at the end) but because I really like the name. It just rolls off the tongue.

And I’d like to note that it never ceases to amaze me how creative and interesting our E-gullet community is—I’m already surprised (and amused) by the responses posted here.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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Here's a few good ones from the US Patent and Trademark Office. The pictures are often necessary, but I can't pull up pictures, as they're in TIFF format:

Electric Pasta Fork

A rechargeable electric motorized pasta fork has an automatic stop mechanism for stopping the rotation of a two-part fork assembly after preset number of revolutions or after a user controlled number of revelations by engagement of a switch. The fork assembly includes a stationary fork element and a rotating inner fork element. The pasta fork also includes a handle that houses a gearing mechanism, which cooperates with a motor.

Diet eating utensil

The invention relates to an eating utensil for counting the number of bites the user consumes in accordance with a specific diet plan regulating the fat intake by the user. The eating utensil has an illuminated display which changes depending on the number of bites consumed by the user. A push button is activated each time the user lifts up a fork full of food from the plate. An associated set of cards carries the names of the food items and the particular number of bites allowed to be taken depending on the fat content of that food item.

Combination fork and chopsticks

A combination fork and chopsticks utensil is provided and consists of a chopsticks portion integral with and extending from a fork portion. The fork portion can namely be utilized for picking up and eating food, while the chopsticks portion can at times also be used for eating food.

Eating utensils having a sound generating means

A ceramic cup has a sound generating circuit at the bottom to produce a melody when the cup is lifted up from, for example, a table. This gives a wonder and pleasant impression for those using it. The synthetic resin is cast into a hard layer in generally integral with the bottom of the cup, making the layer believe to be a part of the cup, at the same time, rendering the layer substantially immune to inadvertent removal.

Eating utensil for correctional institutions

An eating utensil, such as a fork, spoon or dinner knife, for use in correctional institutions. The utensil is formed of a polymeric plastics material and includes a handle which is constructed so as to prevent the utensil from being formed into a sharpened weapon by grinding or other alteration. In the preferred embodiment the handle includes a shallow recess on the bottom side, and a plurality of diagonal slots on the top side, which effectively prevent any portion of the handle from being fashioned into a sharpened instrument of sufficient length to constitute a dangerous weapon.

Dean McCord

VarmintBites

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I was once told that they use forks & knives in Thailand, not chopsticks. Is this true??

Chinese Thais use chopsticks, but non-Chinese Thais use a fork and spoon together, in my admittedly short experience in Thailand. Malays, when eating in restaurants in Malaysia, also frequently use fork and spoon together, though eating with the right hand without using a utensil for anything but soup and other watery foods (bubur, sayur, etc.) is traditional among Malays, especially in kampungs (villages). All of these remarks are, however, based on my experiences from 1975-77. But there's no question that chopsticks aren't traditional for ethnic Thais or Malays.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I was once told that they use forks & knives in Thailand, not chopsticks. Is this true??

My experience in Thailand was that people ate with a spoon (tablespoon size) and knife using the knife to push the food onto the spoon. It works out well that way because then you get a bit of tasty sauce with every bite.

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I was once told that they use forks & knives in Thailand, not chopsticks. Is this true??

I don't remember using knives while eating in Bangkok; it was always fork on the left, spoon on the right. As I learned from pre-trip reading, you should not put the fork in your mouth, only the spoon (use the fork to help food onto the spoon). This sounded awkward but quickly became comfortable in practice, and now we eat Thai food at home this way too. I've almost never been given a spoon at an American Thai restaurant, which is unfortunate. Lots of chopsticks though. The same books said that in Thailand chopsticks are only offered with noodle dishes (Chinese culinary roots); I don't remember if this was true but Matthew might.

During our last visit the size of the spoons was a running joke; they seemed to get larger at each restaurant. Several times I was given a spoon to eat with that was almost as large as a serving spoon here at home.

Another Thai utensil is sticky rice--actually, as jhlurie said, fingers wrapped around sticky rice. Love those edible utensils.

Hungry Monkey May 2009
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I've almost never been given a spoon at an American Thai restaurant, which is unfortunate. Lots of chopsticks though.

I've always found that a "Thai" restaurant in the areas of the U.S. I've been in that assumes people are eating with chopsticks has always sucked. It's my opinion that such restaurants serve food made by Chinese people for patrons who can't recognize the difference between Asian faces, names, or cuisines, and wouldn't know "authentic" if it hit them in the face. :laugh::shock:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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FG's grandfather created the Styrofoam cup but he couldn’t figure out the lid (he thought the lid had to be made out of Styrofoam too) so someone else beat him to the patent (I think that’s how the story goes). He was, in any case, an inventor—who never managed to quite pull it all together.

You mean the Fat Guy could have been the heir to the Styrofoam Cup fortune? That's amazing - sounds like an inspiration for a Seinfeld episode. FG should write about that....

elyse: All my non-essentials are in London (I'm in NY, at the moment). But one of my cousins is supposedly working on an 'improved' version (she's got the last surviving prototype) - if I get a pic I'll upload to this thread. It's really ingenius in its simplicity, but it's like Ellen said about the spork - it doesn't add to your eating pleasure. I think it's enjoyable to 'slurp' up the stray strands of spaghetti. Plus, with the super efficient 'cutting action', you're left with a lot of tiny bits on your plate to deal with....

Re Thai customs: Don't they (sometimes) use sticky rice made into balls to scoop up food?

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In India - right hand only. Usage of left hand is punished by death.

Rice and bread are used as vehicles for foodstuffs too liquid to hold it together on their own! Guided by the right hand, contained by a carbohydrate/starch we deliver little pieces of vegetable and lentil to our mouths.

I was raised a Hindu Brahmin and instructed to not allow anything except the first two divisions on my fingers be spoiled. Certainly never the palm.

My husband, who was also raised a Hindu Brahmin, but in the South of India learned quite the opposite. They make little lemon sized balls of rice and lentils and such and then toss them in their palms like you would see a cricketer do - so as to make them rounder - and then sort of throw them in their mouths. I don't think he ever mastered the skill ...... but when I first saw it as a kid, I found it quite amusing!

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Re Thai customs: Don't they (sometimes) use sticky rice made into balls to scoop up food?

In the north they use sticky rice to scoop up food. There are certain dishes that are always served with sticky rice and the rice is used as a vehicle to get the food to your mouth. I LOVE this sticky rice--very hard to find at the majority of Thai restaurants. As for the utensils issue--as confirmed by many--it's a spoon and fork combo. The majority of my experience was in the north and the Thai family that I lived with never offered chopsticks as an eating utensil at home. We did, however, use chopsticks to eat noodles out of soup in a noodle restaurant and it was, if I remember correctly (it’s been a while now), Chinese influenced.

Ellen Shapiro

www.byellen.com

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When we were kids (in the old Country), we had a small 'rake', well actually it was more like a wide how, to push and pull our foods onto the spoons or forks. Never were allowed to use finners.

We also had, still do, special 'fish knives' - wider blade - completely dull. And certainly dessert forks, where one of the prongs was sharpened almost like a knife.

And then I came across a small cup - bone china, actually with a thin wall in the middle, separating it into two halves, but with a tiny opening from one chamber to the other. Never could figure it out what to drink out of it nor how, until someone told me, it was a "Shaving cup", for the stick soap in one half, and the brush made of beaver hair, in the other half. :rolleyes::blink:

(it now has some nice freshly cut Violets in it)

Peter
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Not that it matters. You'd die anyway, wouldn't you?

What do you mean? Eventually... or right after eating that way?

Just wondering, as a natural left-hander (who had a hard time of it when visiting points East). BTW, I do know the reasoning behind it, but I'll leave the explanation, if necessary, for you.... :raz:

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