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Your preference in Tines?

My husband laughs at me because at home, there is one specific fork I like to use all the time. It is actually a salad fork i.e. slightly shorter than an entree fork and it has narrow tines. His name is Small Tines.

I detest beyond all reason forks with wide short tines, esp when there are only three tines and forks that are wider than they are long. So imagine how I feel about sporks.

My ideal fork is:
- 5 narrow tines on a narrow fork (4 times will do)
- tines 4-5 times as long as the back of the fork (the bit between the tines and the handle).
- a flat handle (not a round, square or significantly 3-D shape of any sort)
- pointy not dull tines

Only my husband knows of my weird fork issues. But I got to wondering, does anyone else have strong feelings about the shape of their fork and what are your preferences. And who on earth does like those 'modern' forks that are all back and 3 blunt tines with a piece of twig shaped metal for a handle?

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  1. I hate three-tined forks. I don't really know why, but I have an overwhelming preference for a four-tiner.

    1. What a hilarious post! I too have fork "issues" but I think they are somewhat opposite to yours. I much prefer 3 tines -- but long thin ones (no, I don't like those ones with the fake twigs either). I definitely agree that they should be longer rather than wide and I too prefer a flat handle. When we were buying flatware, we found it difficult to find anything reasonably priced that had the forks I desired. So we settled for regular old long, thin 4-tined forks. To this day whenever we are at a restaurant that uses 3-tine forks, the H warns me that I'm not allowed to take one! :)

      1. The best thing about Chowhound is you realize there are others just like you out there. I too prefer salad forks, 4 tines and not too big. I even keep one in my desk drawer at work since everything in our shared kitchen are huge dinner forks or plastic. I think my husband is the only other person who knows this about me. Since we have more dinner forks than salad (where do they disappear to?) he calmly pulls a dirty one from the dishwasher and hand washes one for me whenever the drawer is empty.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Paladar

          <he calmly pulls a dirty one . . . >

          heehee, isn't it great to have a husband who understands.

          The "where is small tines" hunt is the last thing my husband does after he puts the food on the table for us. The little fella does get handwashed a lot!

          1. re: orangewasabi

            Oh orangewasabi, thank you for this post! I am so happy that others share my neurosis, I have always felt like such a weirdo, ha ha. When I was about 15 or 16, our family somehow wound up with three (and only three) of a certain type of fork. I found that these were the best forks I ever used in my life, and I only used those when I was at home. If they were all dirty, I'd wash one. The fork was smallish, with four NARROW tines, just shorter than a regular dinner fork. I, too, hate wide tines on a fork. Well, by the time I moved out for college, there were only two forks remaining, and mom let me take them with me. She would joke about my "little friend fork" which was, of course, embarrassing, and perpetuated my feeling that I was somehow batty for having a favorite fork. That was about ten years ago, and up until last month, I had one of those forks remaining. I am sorry to say that it was so short, I did not see it when I turned on the garbage disposal, and my favorite fork met its untimely death. It was all mangled when I pulled it out. Alas, i guess I'll have to live with the flatware I have now until I run across the perfect fork again, sigh.

            1. re: femmenikita

              I prefer long and narrow, flat handled, but what I really want is small. Husband and son get the dinner forks and I eat everything with the salad fork. I mean, it's going in my MOUTH, for Pete' sake.

              And in our house, forks are like socks in the laundry: always going missing.

          2. re: Paladar

            Count me in the school of people who prefer salad forks. At dinner I always set my place with the shorter four tined flat handled fork and my SO gets the longer version. He teases me and says I am selfish because I don't set his place with a short fork EVER for fear we will run out of cleans ones for my use before we need to run the dishwasher thus putting me in the position of eating with a long tined fork or washing a short one by hand. Obviously both options unthinkable, haha.
            Also, when at home, I use a teaspoon for consuming anything even remotely spoonable. I don't care for any larger spoons.

          3. After I moved to my new place last year I could not find my silverware. For the first couple days this wasn't an issue as fast food sustained me but heck, I had food in the fridge that needed to be eaten and I could not bear the thought of buying plastic.

            The one set of silverware I could lay my hands on was my grandmother's wedding silver. I'd never eaten with this silverware before but I polished one place setting and used it for dinner. It was a revelation in comfort and ease of use. The slightly curved fork handle lays perfectly in my pudgy hand and the 'stabbiness' of the tines is such that not an errant pea can roll without my catching it.

            Before unearthing the silver I'd preferred flat 5 tined salad forks for my meals but now my silverware is really silver. I love that it's my everyday set and I know my grandmother would be pleased even though it goes into the dishwasher.

            My forks, both dinner and salad are all named 'stabby.'

            1. I was grinning as I read this thread. I had to get up to go look at my everyday silverware, and realized when I looked at the dinner fork that it was specifically because of the design of the handle and the # of tines that I purchased this set.

              4 tines, which are two times as long as the back of the fork, narrow tines (which were an absolute MUST) and a flat handle - I detest round handles (but obviously use them in when in friends' homes).

              My stepfather had the same feeling (fetish? LOL) about an old set of my Grandma's knives - they were definite butter knives - long oval-shaped blades, with a bakelite handle (all of which had seen better days after being left in dishwater for too long over the years, and most of which ended up eventually cracking and being disposed of after he passed away). But if I was setting the table, he always had to have one of these knives, even if I was using the "other silverware". :-)

              1. I have a favourite cutting knife (a small lightweight knife with a longish blade), and I definitely have favourite spoons... they've got to have a SMALL bowl, preferably not too flat. I adore the slightly oversized teaspoons you sometimes find... I'm not as fussy about my forks. I don't particularly notice how many tines they have, but ALL my cutlery has to have a rounded or smooth/flat handle with no sharp corners on it to poke me, and preferably a smallish handle for my pudgy little hands.

                1. What about the big tine question: American or Continental size?

                  1 Reply
                  1. I too prefer the salad fork only b/c it fits my mouth better (as does the teaspoon v soup/table spoon). As long as the fork has a substantial feel and weight in the hand, the shape doesn't matter to me.

                    Also, I don't like my utensils to have a "taste." Some (not mine) give off a strange metallic taste & feel.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: OCAnn

                      I also can't stand any taste from utensils. I have my grandmothers wedding set but I can't use it because of the metallic taste it gives off

                    2. My mother who is 97 will only eat with a very narrow four tine fork that she got as a present about 70 years ago. I have never used it so I cannot verify what advantage it has over a regular four tine fork. It is now worn so much that the tines do not line up. I have looked for a replacement with no success. I do see one advantage - it is very easy to clean, so she uses it for her salad, entree, and desert with a quick rinse in between.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: PGABLVD

                        PGABLVD -- I think your mother must like that "Old Tine Feeling," right?

                      2. I have found THE PERFECT set if silverware, well as far as the tines on the forks go anyway... that's all I really care about. @ Bed Bath & Beyond, Oneida Voss, true love!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: SusiehomakerThatsMe

                          My perfect set is Cutipol Icon

                          Hopefully one day I'll be able to afford a set.

                          To the OP: yes, I have certain fork requirements too! Quite similar to yours. Plus I have a thing for tiny spoons.

                        2. We have a set of not-quite 200-YO French silver-plate that's got some brass coming through, but Mrs. O prefers to use those forks. We also have some German stainless, very plain, with both the short salad forks and longer dinner ones. For some reason I prefer the salad forks; I'm not sure why, unless it's a balance thing with the shorter handle.

                          We had a woman for dinner one time, one of those people whose every possession must be perfect. She said something about her fork's crooked "teeth", and Mrs. O said, "Ruthie, if you were 150 years old what would YOUR teeth be like?"

                          1. For me, it depends on what I'm eating. On the average day, I like my small fork (4 tines) and a teaspoon (teaspoon even for soups - but then, I'm a smaller person - only 4' 10 1/2"). My 3 tine forks are really tiny and I use them for things like shrimp cocktail. But if I'm having pasta, I want a large fork and a tablespoon for "twirling the pasta". But then, I also like small plates and bowls (unless it's a pasta bowl). Go figure! :)

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: boyzoma

                              ok so I admit it I also like small plates... but bowls Idk why I like big bowls mostly, unless it's a cereal bowl... I just bought these REALLY quirky offset top bowls from Pier 1, they're awesome

                              1. re: boyzoma

                                I grew up in a lightweight, short-fork household. I didn't realize until much later how much I disliked those forks (and still do when I go home). I adore mine, and they are just Martha Stewart Everyday from Kmart - I got them when I moved into my first apartment. Long and slender, (approximately a 2:1 tine:bowl ratio) with a no-frills design that is comforting to hold. For some reason, I MUST use the salad forks for breakfast and lunch. If it is egg-based or eaten out of a plastic container or small bowl, it requires a small fork. Dinner is more elegant and requires a dinner fork with a longer, more sophisticated line.

                                Naturally, when around other human beings, these rules go right out the window, but something about the small plate/small bowl/small fork, large plate/large bowl/large fork dichotomy makes the OCD part of my brain very happy.

                                Now if only I could get that part of my brain to run the dishwasher more often.

                              2. I also like my forks with a flat handle and a minmum of four tines. For most of the year, this is no big deal, as our normal flatware has flat handles and four tines anyway and so I always simply thought that was normal, the same way it though it "normal" to have brown plates (I was in colledge before I realized that most people's day to day plates were usually white. Ours were brown and black mottled, so that's I thought was normal) The issue comes along when Passover rolls around, since out passover forks are three tined (and very long thin three tined at that so that stuff slips off of them very easily) So during the holiday, I usually use the breakfast forks (which have four, much shorter thicker tines) for all meals, the same way I use the gigantic wooden handled steak knives (the knives that actually go with the passover flatware set have a recurved handle that makes cutting by a mixed dominance hander like me awkward to actually painful.

                                1. I am not tine-particular but length particular. If it's a main dish I always insist on a long fork, but if it's desserts or something served in a small bowl then shorter fork it is however if it's a dinner salad in a large bowl then I need a long fork. SO just opens the drawer and grabs a fork.

                                  Oh, I do detest 3 tine forks for some reason although I rarely encounter them as we don't eat out much and all of our forks have 4 tines.

                                  1. Yea,I do have a fork issue. My father would eat all his meals with this fork."Where's my fork", he would say. looking in the top drawer with the rest of the flatware. It is my most prized posession.Thanks to this post I did some research and found out it was made by Providence flatware.Four tines.Unpretentious and pragmatic. And I thought I was the only one with a fork issue.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: emglow101

                                      We have one sterling spoon. My dad used it to eat his cereal every morning.

                                      My grandmother had mismatched forks that included some with three tines, as sharp as needles. I always insisted on using one of those for the element of danger. I was always admonished to be careful.

                                    2. I thought I was the only one with an issue with silverware. I can't stand the set my parents have and when I visit I always dig through my Mom's cooking utensil drawer where I know there are some odds and ends pieces that are lighter weight and easier to use. I do have to give my Mom a huge thank you because when I moved out to my first apartment she let me take the silverware I had used growing up (it's weird what you get attached to) and then when my younger sister got her first apartment I sent it to her. I'm happy to say it's still in use after over 30 years. I also like to drink out of plastic cups and eat out of tupperware. I'm glad I don't have to use my actual name when making confessions like these.

                                      1. Forks and spoons, the larger the better. Long narrow tines on the forks, preferably 4, but 5 is ok. And a decently sized handle. I really hate tableware with handles so short you almost have to dip your hands in the food to get a forkful.

                                        Most tablespoons/teaspons are too small, ideal size - for me - would be half way up to a soup spoon (which even I concede is a bit much for most uses.)

                                        In reading this it looks like I'm one of those people who sit there and shovel food into their mouth like a bulldozer clearing a road, but it's really the opposite. I don't like feeling I have to load the utensil to the limit to get a decent mouthful.

                                        5 Replies
                                        1. re: KaimukiMan

                                          Do you happen to be a big, tall person?

                                          I like the little ones, but I am 5 ft tall. Just wondering if it's a relative thing.

                                          1. re: ursy_ten

                                            I'm just under 6 feet, been told I have a big mouth - don't think it's meant literally. But no, I'm not petite. I just think that 4 - 6 peas is less than an ideal mouthful, 8 or so is more satisfying to me. Maybe I'm just impatient.

                                            I used to work with a man who would eat popcorn one kernel at a time. I know I'm not the only one who found watching him frustrating. I'm no longer 12, so I don't believe in cramming an entire fistful into my mouth at once, but whatever can be comfortably picked up with 3 fingers is good.

                                            Thank heaven we don't live in a one-size-fits-all world. How boring that would be.

                                            1. re: ursy_ten

                                              I am also a big/long fork person. At home I avoid my salad forks. So does my husband. I am 5'9" and he is 6'3".

                                              1. re: cleobeach

                                                Ha - maybe we need a fork exchange because I avoid our dinner forks in favour of the salad forks :)

                                                I often wish I could swap our dinner forks for salad forks of the same design.

                                          2. I so agree with you. I have one fork that has fairly decent tines...not pointed enough for me, but it will do. I have searched high and wide for forks with long narrow extremely pointed tines. Flat handles yes, and any other is just annoying. I know this is a really old post, but I have researched this intensively. Hopefully you are still here. If you find what we are lookiing for, please reply.

                                            1. My husband and I share the same preference for the smaller salad forks. Gradually we admitted our inclinations to each other. We need to just order more, but for some reason we keep putting it off. In an ideal world, I wouldn't even have the full-sized forks - I'd just pull out my silverware drawer and there would be, say, 12 salad forks so we'd never run out.

                                              Don't get me started on the teaspoons. Why do we have so many soup spoons, anyway? We hardly ever eat soup.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: khh1138

                                                I'm the exact opposite. I give the salad forks to the man so there are more dinner forks in the drawer for me. He gets the teaspoons so the soup spoons are all mine. Our set is vintage (Oneida Twin Star) so I buy dinner forks and large spoons as often as I find them since I can't just order them.

                                                1. re: khh1138

                                                  My uncle never had enough salad forks or iced tea spoons. He went to Goodwill where there were a ton of orphaned salad forks and iced tea spoons. I think he picked up ten of each for $5.00. If you don't mind mismatched place settings (but I am guessing, since you mention ordering, that you might), it's a great way to have the pieces you want in the quantity you need.

                                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                                    I have a few different sets of vintage dishes but I'm freakish about the flatware all matching.

                                                2. Forks need to be a certain weight. Not too heavy and not too light. They need to be able to pick up a certain amount of spaghetti. I agree, three tines is too few. My favorite forks were part of a cutlery set my mother bought in Switzerland that's stamped "made in Korea." this was in 1976. Unfortunately, my mother keeps trying to get rid of them.

                                                  1. The only real issues I have with forks is the handle. Nothing bulky or too flat.... I like a slightly rounded or curved, kind of ergonomic handle.

                                                    My SO, on the other hand....

                                                    We've got two different hand-me-down flatware sets mixed in together. He was always telling me that he hated the "short forks", so obviously he was talking about the salad forks. If I was behind on dishes and we were short on forks, I made sure I took a salad fork and he got a regular one.

                                                    But I started noticing regular forks getting mixed in with the salad forks in the drawer on a regular basis. I couldn't figure out if he was just lazy or confused.... I finally asked him about it and he said he was putting the short ones together. It was then I realized that he hated the short TINES, not the short handles.

                                                    Needless to say, there has been a lot of examining and holding and testing while picking a flatware set for the wedding registry.