Flatware - What Else Would You Eat With?

Throughout the course of human civilization, utensils have been used for stuffing our faces full of food. From chopsticks to forks, everyone, everywhere, consumes their daily meals with a little help from human ingenuity. As the foods we eat, and the way we prepared them, changed over time, so did the utensils we required to eat them. Hence, rough versions of modern flatware were born in 1797. Yet, it was not widely recognized or utilized until the 1920's!

Flatware, also known as silverware, is the culmination of technology and practicality to suit our basic needs to eat. The earliest spoons were made of baked clay, shaped bones, and wood. These materials lacked durability, reliability, and eventually were recognized as unsanitary. As metallurgy technology advanced, along with our creativity and pursuit of ease, flatware started being made of metals. This metal flatware originated in Egypt, where it was made of bronze.

This made it durable, easy to clean and store, and more significantly, it became attractive. When these attractive metal utensils arrived, only the wealthiest members of society possessed them. Modern flatware is produced all across the world, and is used more widely than any other utensil for eating. Along with the tradition knife, spoon, and fork, combinations of the three have been created in recent times. These include the spork (spoon + fork), knork (knife + fork), spife (spoon + knife), and sporf ( all three). Modern flatware has come a long way since the primitive tools we once used; it is now a significant symbol of our passion for food, and the way in which we consume it.

Flatware is made from one of three materials, silver, stainless steel, or pewter. Silver is the highest quality flatware produced; it maintains its brilliance over time and is the most resilient to wear. Stainless steel is in the middle ground as far as quality goes, and is the most widely produced. There are two major stainless steel alloys used to produce flatware, 420 steel and 18/8 or 18/10 steel (the 18 represents the % of chrome, 8 or 10 represents the % of nickel). 420 stainless steel loses its like new appearance due to wear rather quickly when compared to 18/10- 8 and silver utensils. The weight and gauge of either of the steels' determine their value. Pewter is the cheapest, least durable, and lowest quality flatware material. It is becoming less popular, and is rapidly being replaced by its 420 steel counterpart.

Flatware is a dignifying part of humanity. It sets us apart from animals, expresses our stature and elegance in civilization, and represents our cultural background. It draws a precise barrier between logical and sophisticated consumption of sustenance born from within the human race, and the instinctive munching and scarfing relative to animals of the world. Just as chopsticks are inherent Asian utensils, flatware is part of the western world's culture. It is something very deeply rooted into our way of life, and is probably taken for granted more than any other tool we use.