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I've been making do with a mixed set of stainless steel flatware for all of my adult life. I've looked at other sets and just can't make a decision. What's the best material for everyday use? Stainless? Silver? Silver plate?

What about the shapes? I've seen, and used, some very deviant forms, some of which work surprisingly well, ergonomically and some of which don't.

And what is necessary in terms of specialized utensils? The Victorians had hundreds of specialized shapes, but I think that was about conspicuous consumption (excuse the pun....). Tiny seafood forks, natch! But what about, say, pie forks? Iced tea spoons? And serving utensils -- I got a superwide flipper kind of thing -- about 6" -- thinking it would help serve fish, but the thang is just crazy awkward to use. What do you find indispensible?

Should flatware make a statement? Or be esthetically invisible?

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A couple of years ago, we bought an Arthur Price flat ware set in London (at the Selfridges store), and had it shipped over. We got the silver plated kind, which the salesperson said was easier to keep than the silver. (I don’t know if this was just her way of saying, “Don’t feel too bad about not wanting to spend thousands and thousands of pounds on the silver”.) We’re very pleased with it. It is dishwasher proof, but we tend to hand wash it. We’ve got the Carleton style (third one down on list). I tend to like very plain designs.

http://www.smallislandtrader.com/cgi-bin....9511815

B Edulis, the above site looks a good one to surf for ideas, and maybe even to buy from.

For everyday use we use stainless steel, which I’m not that keen on.

This has crossed my mind before, but I’d like to eat from wooden spoons and spoons made from animal bone. There’s something so cold about most cutlery.

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A few years ago I was in the same quandary, that is, looking for everyday flatware.  I called some of our dinnerware purveyors we used at the restaurant I worked and asked their opinion.  They unanimously advised me to get stainless steel.  I forget the exact reasons, silver plated was overpriced (?), you can't put it in the dishwasher (?), or whatever.  Surprisingly, I settled on Oneida, a brand that doesn't meet with my usual snobbery.  But I've been very happy with it -- it's great looking and practical.  I got the Julliard line.  You can look at prices and styles at Kaiser Crow.

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Glenn -

thanks for the link. Looks like an interesting site.

There's an excellent factory store for Oneida in Flemington NJ. It's adjacent to the Liberty Village on NJ 12, adjacent to the steam train's station.

Lots of discontinued and imperfect flatware

Paul

Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Although Yvonne's desire for wooden implements sounds tempting, I have been using a set of stainless for many years that I find quite satisfying.

There are qualities of stainless.  There is also the feel in your hand and the shape and the feel in your mouth.  All of these things vary.

The very best stainless is known as 18/8 which has to do with the mix of metals used. Also, it has been my experience that stainless made in Germany feels the best and looks the best.  Also, knives should be of one piece construction.  These characteristics have not to do with status but with function and feel.

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Oh, this thread should be interesting, especially since I've had the idea of replacing our flatware in the back of my mind for quite a while.

First, though, a question.  A little over a year ago, Laurie and I were at Harrods in London, the day before their big annual sale.  While we were there we saw a set of the Oneida "Nimbus" line;  it was on sale for UKP 125 (from 250, I think) for either a six- or eight-setting box, can't remember which.  We stupidly decided not to buy it, not wanting to brave the crowds or lug a box of silverware back in our luggage.  Then we returned to find that no one in the US had ever heard of the pattern.

So, UK readers:  is the Nimbus pattern generally available in the UK?  It's one of the satin-handle patterns, which I tend to prefer.

B Edulis--when you asked whether flatware should be "esthetically invisible" it reminded me of the famous essay, The Crystal Goblet, by Beatrice Warde.

The essay is about typography.  In it Warde argues that just as wine lovers prefer a neutral medium (i.e., a thin, clear, crystal goblet without excessive ornamentation) for their drink, readers are best served by a type and page design that calls as little attention to itself as possible.  This has been a controversial topic in typography (and other applied design fields) for a very long time.  The stark white plates of nouvelle cuisine owe as much to the ideal of the crystal goblet as they do to modern architecture or any of their other reputed inspirations.

Anyway, now I'm wondering whether The Crystal Goblet gets dragged into conversations about actual wineglasses.  I'll bet it does.

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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i have two or three patterns of vintage handed-down scavenged rummage sale silver plate, with lots of odd teaspoons, for every day.  because i have no money invested in it i don't care what happens to it and i dishwash it which is not good for it at all, makes it look flat and whitish

my silver pattern is old maryland engraved which i suspect many eGulletarians would find too frilly, but i love the way it has at once simple sexy lines as well as gorgeous floral embossing--i am about two/thirds of the way towrds service for twelve, and i am not sending it ot the engraver til my set is complete.  i like to use it but keep it put up most of the time, which actually goes against my belief that the best dishes and flatware should nevr be saved fpr sepcal occasions.  but since i don't have enough for all my guests i don't use it--it also wouldn't do to mix it with the everyday worn plate

when i got married i registered for silver, the ONLY thing i cared to hope for.  people told me i was crazy and wouldn't get any, and i got a lot, and now my mom continues to add steadily to my set

it's not unaffordable and it is truly beautiful.  i know people who use ONLY sterling, and one woman has pieces from at least fifty different patterns.  it should always be handwashed and immediately rubbed dry briskly with a soft cloth--and NEVER use a scouring pad on it.  the truth about silver is that the more it's used, the shinier it will be.  forget polishing.

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 The stark white plates of nouvelle cuisine owe as much to the ideal of the crystal goblet as they do to modern architecture or any of their other reputed inspirations.

A fine observation, Mamster. Do you think there might be another school - those for whom a colored plate or a decorated glass might add another dimension to the experience, to be savored by itself, as well as in combination with its food or drink and other elements of the dining experience?

Who said "There are no three star restaurants, only three star meals"?

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D. has a preference for three-tined forks and we're having a devil of a time finding a set we like. Or more accurately, finding a set at all. Is there a rule about 3 or 4 tined forks that I've missed?

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I don't know about a rule, but I have  six place settings of James Robinson silver in the Trifid pattern with three-tined forks (and cannon-handle knives.)  I would love to get two more place settings, but the silver has become prohibitively expensive and I have other priorities now.

For daily use, I finally replaced my odds and ends with an inexpensive stainless steel set that has a nice weight to it.  I have enough for a party.

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A fine observation, Mamster. Do you think there might be another school - those for whom a colored plate or a decorated glass might add another dimension to the experience, to be savored by itself, as well as in combination with its food or drink and other elements of the dining experience?

Yes, absolutely.  I should have mentioned that while I delight in Warde's perceptive essay, it's deliberately overbroad, and crystal goblets are appropriate to some occasions and not others.  And don't we all long for an occasional sip from the golden cup in all its metaphoric incarnations?

(By which I mean, let me tell you about the great dessert plates we got recently.)

Matthew Amster-Burton, aka "mamster"

Author, Hungry Monkey, coming in May

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I was once told by an antique dealer FOAF that dealers buy and sell silver by weight and that it's the best way to get a set of silverware. But I can't help by suggesting where one might do this.

I have a friend who's collecting a mixed set of silver, the common element being that every piece has to have an anthropomorphic face somewhere on it. It really populates the table!

I can't wait to check out the sites y'all have suggested....

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I like large-scale flatware with decent table knives.  My set is Christofle stainless steel, which I acquired modularly over time, after using a typical cheap disgusting pressed eight-thousand-piece service.

It occurs to me I don't know if it is still being made--I've had it for something over 10 years--when looking to replace the odd wayward tablespoon I have patronized this company, Replacements, Ltd., and been very satisfied.  I was interested to see the other silverware replacement houses; I do like to survey the available, if possible.

I also look for silverplate dessert spoons in thrift stores, no particular pattern, but must appeal and meet size-quality-heft criteria.  

Priscilla

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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