Let’s talk a little bit about food.
For the most part, I think it is a good thing. It is probably safe to say that eating is a vital practice for the majority of humans. But nothing is black and white.
Food can be difficult.
I’m not talking about the making of food (although as someone who has only three dishes she feels confident serving without the risk of inducing botulism, this is certainly a point), but more so the eating of food.
Cutlery in particular can provide a complicated challenge.
According to the film adaptation of Northanger Abbey, a film on which I base many dubious assumptions, cutlery has been the cause of woe since the 19th Century. Poor Catherine at least had a conscientious friend to guide her to the correct implement, but it isn’t always that easy for the rest of us.
Admittedly we have fewer utensils to choose from than our 19th Century predecessors, but this can occasionally become a problem in itself.
Take ice cream, for example. Suddenly it is fine to do away with cutlery all together. Instead of a spoon you are handed ice cream in a cone. Within seconds there is ice cream on your chin, in your hair, and up your nose. Within a minute the cone has begun to lose integrity and there is more ice cream on your hands, your clothes and the ground than in your stomach.
Ice cream cones are yummy, but they are not practical.
Let’s move on to the fettuccine conundrum.
For my entire life I’ve been unable to eat fettuccine within the restraints of cutlerinary protocol (yes, cutlerinary is a word now).
Served a delicious bowl of fettuccine, I am always at a loss. I look down for my knife and fork, only to find that my knife has been replaced with a spoon. What travesty is this? How is one to proceed? Typically the aroma of a scrumptious garlic sauce or the sight of a delightful, wee artichoke peering from beneath a thread of pasta is enough for me to cease worrying and throw the dish down my gullet by whatever means necessary.
This, however, usually ends with my outfit looking somewhat worse for wear.
In certain social situations this won’t do.
When I was 16 the fettuccine conundrum struck its most vicious blow.
I went to my friend’s house for dinner for the very first time and was determined to make a good impression on his parents. This was during that period of teenage-hood when parental trust directly equates to freedom. I wanted to show that I was the sort of friend who would rather do Maths homework on a Friday night than anything else. I convinced myself that their trust, and therefore our Friday night freedom, was entirely dependent on my behaviour at dinner.
The universe being as spiteful as it is, I was not in the least surprised when served a huge steaming bowl of the most delicious fettuccine I’d ever smelled. I reached for my cutlery and groaned internally as the end of my would-be knife appeared as the round, mocking end of a spoon. I looked up at my friend with wide eyes, desperate for guidance, but he was too busy digging into his delectable feast to worry about my cutlerinary concerns.
I spent the next 30 minutes dabbling at my plate and attempting to make polite conversation to distract from my failure to eat anything.
Eventually, my friend’s mother collected the plates. When she reached mine and found it full, she asked, “Have you had enough? Was there something wrong with your meal?”
It was all too tragic, but I suppressed my tears along with my longing for fettuccine goodness. I looked up at her. Attempting to ignore the sounds of my gurgling belly and channelling Catherine Morland, I said, “Thank you, it was very nice. I’ve had a delicate sufficiency.”
And thus, our Friday nights were secured.