Table Manners

I am not renowned for my grace. While I’m not infamous for my clumsiness either, when pressed I’d have to admit that on the scale of dexterity I have a definite sinister leaning. Thinking back on my life, I’m pretty sure I’ve always been that way, but it’s only recently that I’ve come to really appreciate my awkward ways. My spazticity is particularly obvious when I’m eating salad.

Take tonight, for instance. I was eating salad, from a plate, using a fork. As I raised a mouthful toward my maw a leaf of spinach leapt from the fork, and flew at my head. I dodged and the leaf hit my shoulder before falling into my lap, leaving red spots of raspberry vinaigrette behind. My sweetie, who caught all the excitement in her peripheral vision, reacted with alarm, perhaps because I had already dropped a steak knife on the floor near my bare foot.

Salad seems to be particularly tricky. Often as we sit sharing a big bowl of salad, I end up dropping significant chunks in my lap, or dripping salad dressing on my clothes, or finding some other way to get food where it was not intended to go. I’m not sure a fork is even the right utensil for eating many of the items we put in a salad, anyway. As I ponder, I wonder if something with more of a grabbing action would be appropriate for items that are difficult to pierce when they’re in the bottom of a bowl. Maybe a miniature version of the tool we use to serve the salad in the first place; a hinged tool with a pair of sporks at the end that could be used to both grab and scoop. I think that would increase the percentage of items that reach my mouth, but the transfer at that point might be tricky.

Still, I think I may be onto something there. In the meantime, I’ll make sure I have towels handy.

10 thoughts on “Table Manners

  1. You are probably onto something there — I have always thought that a good device for eating salad would be similar to the tongs used to get it from the serving bowl to the individual dish.

    Of course, civilization has actually had an individual two-piece eating utensil for thousands of years … chopsticks.

    Given your klutziness with a fork, I’m not sure that chopsticks is a move in the right direction in your case, however. Perhaps you could invent a hinged set of chopsticks that would reduce the need for the fingers on the hand to cooperate with each other.

  2. I actually do OK with chopsticks, and there are training chopsticks that work more or less like large tweezers. (Lumir even got a set for his 13th monthiversary.) With the proper set of attachments that might turn out to be a good tool.

  3. A great spot for me to acquaint the blogcomm with a Jer witticism from long ago: “I’d give my right arm to be ambidextrous.”

    Restaurant salads are particularly insidious because the staff are too rushed to properly chop the salad. I’ve had chunks in my salads that were not far from unabridged heads of lettuce.

  4. This is one area where technological advances have made life better rather than simply more convenient. If a restaurant is any bigger than a hole-in-the-wall, it’s now cheaper for the restaurant to use pre-shredded salad greens that come in bags much like those in the supermarket but bigger, rather than having the staff shred the greens.

    The pre-shredded greens do tend to have more ribs than I’d put into a salad I shredded myself, but overall, they’re good, and the packaging technology keeps them much fresher than would be expected of greens that have been shredded and then shipped a thousand or more miles.

    And if you’re in any place where salad greens are being chopped (with a knife) rather than being shredded, that’s not good. Greens must be shredded by hand, or they suffer terrible injuries. Cutting with a knife ruptures cell walls and allows air in, causing the edges of the leaves to turn brown; shredding leaves cells intact, so the edges don’t wilt.

    The one exception is chopping cabbage for cole slaw — cabbage is much stronger than lettuce, and since it’s immersed in dressing, its edges get some protection.

  5. Jer will have to plumb his memory on the quip, but I am happy to be convinced that like Tesla and Edison, Jer invented the light bulb with no prior knowledge.

  6. If I had to guess, I’d say I first heard the joke from my cousin Archer, but I may be wrong. I remember him saying it, with a not-too-Groucholike delivery.

  7. Yes, I first heard it from Archer, too, but I later found out that it originated elsewhere — I’m pretty sure it was Groucho, but it could also have been Yogi Berra.

  8. Chopsticks are the way to go, especially if there are cherry tomatoes involved in the salad. More than once have I gone into the dark recesses of a salad bowl to spear a cherry tomato only to catapult said tomato into the sky. I blame no one but myself.

    Thanks for the lesson about shredding the greens, Carol Anne.

    Jerry, regarding the antics of the spinach, it’s a well known fact that spinach is a very aggressive green. It was probably trying to throttle you. Maybe using a knife on spinach is best in order to make sure it’s incapacitated – shredding might not be enough.

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