I get really cross with children’s cutlery. Growing up, we happened to have a fork that was smaller than the rest, like the runt of the cutlery drawer. For some known-only-to-me reason, I called this fork “Bluey”…anyway, it was MY fork and I used it for every meal my mother made. Even pizza. Which she used to make for me without the tomato sauce on top as I had a bad experience at school involving giant plum peeled tomatoes, which I’ll detail another time.
Children’s cutlery invariably consists of blunt-ended forks with chunky handles, knives that cut nothing and spoons that are so wide, said child would have to have a letterbox for a mouth to get them in. Useless. Or super chunky, plastic-handled crap with stupid designs all over it. When what you surely want is a plain, simple, stainless steel set of cutlery that is just smaller. How hard can this be to find?
When my eldest was born, my mother produced, with a flourish, a set of cutlery that belonged to me as a child and which had been given to me by an erstwhile next door neighbour. It consisted of fork, knife, spoon and teaspoon (the latter has been mislaid somewhere, probably under the new kitchen), perfectly normal, perfectly functional just scaled down for children. I have no memory, whatsoever, of ever having used this set of cutlery. Probably because, in the way of Southern Italians (which my mother is) she was dazzled by the inlay of ‘gold’ each piece had along the handle, saved it for ‘best’ and then promptly forgot where she’d put it.
Here it is, childhood fork. I have no memory at all of ever using it.
When she gave the set to me for my eldest, my first thought was “I’ll hide these in a drawer somewhere”, but it became apparent quickly that it was actually really useful. Number 1: my daughter loves having her own cutlery (although I daily remind her that it’s MY cutlery), number 2: it makes sense for her to use something scaled down. Number 3: I actually love that my mother kept them all these years.
So I was able to dispense with the other, totally useless, totally rubbish, children’s cutlery I had accumulated since my daughter was born in an attempt to find Scaled Down Cutlery That Actually Worked.
I’d tried the Miniamo melamine children’s cutlery: totally crap. The fork’s prongs were so rounded as to render them totally useless.. They have anyway now been recalled
, not because they are a crime against the trade descriptions’ act, but because fragments of the fork can break off and pose a choking hazard.
Then I bought the So.Eat set from Waitrose. A knife, fork and spoon for £10, which seemed a lot, but they looked like good, solid specimens and the only child-related insignia was a smiley face at the base of the stem of each piece (why, why, why?), which I could live with, just about.
Don’t buy these.
I was full of hope as I got these home. But immediately it became apparent to me that they had, to my mind at least, there was a design flaw. Each piece was really heavy. When I take these out of the cutlery drawer, I have to almost engage my abdominals. And the spoon! You can probably see from the pic above that the ‘bowl’ of the spoon is huge! And this is meant to be for a little mouth!
I was really pretty cross by this stage. My youngest, who is just over a year now, feeds herself and always has (honestly, don’t bother with all that spoon-feeding of pureeing stuff, no need). Sure she very often throws her cutlery on the floor, but when she does want to use cutlery she doesn’t want to be hindered by weight-lifting.
Anyway today, I was in our local kitchen store, which I go to on a weekly basis, wondering round the aisles aimlessly, sure that I need at least one new gadget (I have the best stocked kitchen ever, probably only Martha Stewart beats me). Then I saw it. The answer.
An oyster fork.
An oyster fork, (okay, two) slightly Georgian in feel, I feel, and the answer to all my prayers.
Okay I haven’t sorted the knife problem yet (you can get small butter knives, but they aren’t right). But let’s face it, mostly my youngest, dexterous though she is, doesn’t actually cut up her own food yet. She’s fine with a regular teaspoon but what she needed was a small fork. This is perfectly sized for her. There was another one, slightly bigger, with four prongs, which I’ll probably buy in a year or so but this is great for now. It cost £2.50 and it’s fucking brilliant (sorry); it’s really good quality stainless steel and I’m sure I’ll find a use for it (other than oysters, one of the few things I really don’t like, like having some gob into your mouth excuse me) when she’s outgrown it.
From L to R: a regular sized fork, my child-hood, gold embossed fork and the soon to be famous oyster fork, so you can compare sizes. Look, this is important.