Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Obol or A RANT on eating utensils

As a food historian and potter I have been thinking a great deal lately about the sthape and form of eating utensils and serving vessels. They change dramatically over time and from place to place. There's a chapter on this in my Three World Cuisines textbook and I even asked a related question on a midterm exam I was grading today. That is, why do different cultures use different cutlery, seating arrangements, dishes and how does that affect the cuisine, its flavor, texture and consistency? So when the company that makes this asked me to review the OBOL I naturally said sure.
Now just to preface my remarks: I am not at all against innovation and evolution of eating paraphrenalia. In fact I adore my set of knorks. They are beautiful, well balanced and eminently well engineered. Nor do I bewail the proliferation of finger foods and things eaten with hands. I prefer to eat with my hands for the sheer sensual pleasure of doing so. 
So the Obol arrived in the mail today with much fanfare. My 15 year old son immediately volunteered to test it with frosted flakes or some such crap. The whole idea is that the cereal stays dry and the milk is below. You scoop the cereal into the milk as you go, No Sog. The idea is ingenious. My son said in terms of sheer engineering it is a marvel. Revolutionary! But then I thought, would I want to eat anything out of a blue bowl? With a spoon that looks like a baby rattle? From a bowl that is cheap plastic, however well balanced? I don't think I can do it. If this were clay, wood, even metal, in warm appealing tone, I might get really excited. It so reminds me of what we used to feed my sons when they were babies, that I don't think I could bring myself to eat out of it without nausea. Final score 15 year old: 10. 47 year old: 0. I guess you now know your market folks.

5 comments:

Linda Civitello said...

Mr. Utensils: Have I got a book for you! Bee Wilson's new book, Consider the Fork: a History of How We Cook and Eat, opens with a discussion of how the wooden spoon really is technology. She then moves on to describe how to build a pit oven, and a discussion of -- Pottery! Wilson wrote the excellent Swindled: the Dark History of Food Fraud. This one is broken into sections with titles like "Pots and Pans," "Knife, with Mezzaluna," "Ice, with Molds," etc. Are all of these not near and dear to your heart?

Ken Albala said...

So far I'm really liking Bee's new book.

aprilabullock said...

This thing sure does remind me of my daughter's bowls and utensils, my eight month old daughter. I did once have a really warm pottery set of blue plates and they were nice to eat off of.

Looking forward to Bee's book...

Hard to prove I am not a robot!

Ken Albala said...

Yeah, SO WHERE does this fear of robots come from? Any idea how I can shut that off??

April said...

I don't know about the fear of robots. I imagine hoards of robots madly commenting on human blogs. I don't know how to turn it off.