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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

One of life's minor pleasures

I was quite elderly before I became completely spoon-conscious.

This zen-like state is arrived at via an unbreakable rule: that I would never consider using the wrong spoon for four  sets of tasks loosely associated with nutrition.

Achieving spoon-consciousness started with the largest  - technically a table spoon. An elegant object it is made of solid silver, is two-hundred years old, a rare gift from my father. It pings delightfully when struck. Ironically it is employed in the coarsest yet most covert application. Before I wash up the dinner plates I check whether any bits have been left on the meat-carving platter. Because the table spoon - also known as a serving spoon (though only among the middle-classes) - is usually handy I convey these to my mouth. Yes, I know it's big. But you wouldn't expect my mouth to be anything other than capacious, would you?

The cheap white handle on the tea-spoon is important, it aids my incompetent arthritic fingers. The tea-spoon is used exclusively for desserts, mainly for prolonging the ingestion of black-cherry yoghurt - the smaller the spoon, the longer the experience.

The dessert spoon (note the oval-shaped cup) has a very specialised job - ensuring the liquor from a stew or casserole is consumed to the last drop.

The latest and most pleasurable discovery is the soup spoon. Somehow that circular cup enhances soup joy. I am not sure why, other than it allows soup to be sucked up from the side of the spoon as well as its functional extremity. Soup spoons have an obsessional hold on their users. Once used, no alternative is conceivable.


  1. Whence came the Victorian term spooning to describe innocent sexual dalliance?

  2. On my Wales walk, in a strange pub, after having soup, i was congratulated by an even stranger local:

    " it was good to see the way you ate your soup, you don't see that so ften these days".
    Things inly got stranger after that but it's too long a story for

  3. I am on one of my walks. Blogger will not let me go back and correct typos.

  4. Ach, I cannot hold back. I have to join the boys in their comments. How lucky I feel to have achieved spoon-consciousness in my youthful state. My brewing spoon is a delight to hold and the brew cauldron would simply be lost without him. Did the Victorians brew?

  5. Sir Hugh! I for one would love to hear the strange story of the soup spoon experience in the stange pub ...

  6. Rouchswalve - when i get back from this trip next week I will publish my full journal entry on my blog.

  7. Oh thank you Sir Hugh! I'll be there!

  8. I feel I can defend, to myself at least watching 'Downton Abbey' in its entirety, because it finally explained, at least in part, the matter of soup/table spoons which had puzzled me for some time, why one is given the largest sized spoon here with which to consume soup, which Brits would only use for serving.

    When the trainee footman was going through the cutlery (I shall recount the scene in full as I think I can be fairly certain you will not have seen it), he picked up the rounded spoon, as shown last in your picture, with some hesitation. It was, the butler said, a bouillon spoon. 'But I thought you said the table spoon was the soup spoon?' queried the footman. The butler confirmed that it was, and the smaller rounded bowl was specifically for clear soup.

    This doesn't quite explain why we changed our habits to only sipping our soup from the side of the round spoons, while most continentals, it seems, continued to pour it in from the tip of the large ones (a practice I'm no longer particularly uncomfortable with), but that is evidently what happened.

    If I have soup with dumplings I always use a dessert spoon as I like to dig into the dumplings with the point of it.

    I had no idea there was any kind of U and non-U nuance between the terms 'table' and 'serving', having always used the two interchangeably.

  9. Lucy: That was a very short-odds bet you laid there.

    In fact we have a second larger set of dessert spoons which I just can't on with. Normally this is no problem since I lay the dinner table (Not an onerous task.) but when VR chooses the cutlery she unerringly picks the big-marf jobs. This leads to meaningful stares when I get up, go into the kitchen, and return with something smaller. Since I am decades older than you I can afford to instruct you here; such differences are often described as "minor" but they aren't really. Rifts in the lute are often a prelude to the wholesale destruction of the complete string band.

    I probably got that table/serving spoon distinction from the wife of one of my male friends. I have a bad habit of raising the hackles of these exemplary women, sometimes to the point of being forced eventually to break off the original relationship. I am presently riffling through my mind to see if I can recall the most class-conscious lady in a fairly competitive field. For two decades I laboured under the belief that a dessert spoon could be called a pudding spoon. After having got this right I suddenly became the victim of another middle-class surge whereby dessert wines can now, quite legitimately, be called pudding wines.

    We don't dine out socially much these days.