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Oct 21, 2007 09:58 PM

Salad size, fork size

My DH and I have a mild, ongoing disagreement over fork choices in certain situations. Now please note, this is not in formal dinners, just casual meals for the two of us. So this isn't a heavy duty ettiquette question, nor is it even a big deal, but I'm just curious if others have thought about it.

The basic disagreement is that if we're having salad, even if it's a large, full meal salad, his first instinct is to put out salad forks for us. My feeling is that if the salad is on a dinner plate or large bowl, then I want a fork that's sized appropriately for the plate/bowl, i.e., a dinner fork. A salad fork just seems too small to me.

Now it's no big deal, as I say -- after all, I can use a dinner fork and he can use a salad fork. But I'm curious what other people's reasoning and decisions are regarding the implement for large salads.

Bonus question: what implement do you use if it's a side salad but served on a big plate, like a sandwich with a side of coleslaw or green salad?

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  1. Hmmm, what size is your mouth?

    I could see how a dinner salad might feel more like dinner with a dinner fork, or that aesthetics of tableware might affect your enjoyment of the meal, but I think that as a practical matter I find eating salad with a smaller fork easier, less chance of stabbing myself in the lip with a huge fork (I inherited my father's pouty little mouth).

    1. At home, I eat ALL my meals with a salad fork. I too have a kind of small mouth and in general find a "regular" fork to be too big. One of the things I hate about going to chain restaurants are the giant utensils. There are places that give you a spoon the size of a serving spoon as your soup spoon!

      3 Replies
      1. re: rockandroller1

        Me too! Big utensils sometimes result in not pretty situations...

        1. re: meatn3

          Another 'small mouth' here! Sometimes the 'tools' are big enough for Godzilla!

        2. re: rockandroller1

          I also prefer small utensils. I have an average size mouth, but small hands, and it's easier to handle smaller forks.

        3. I would put out a regular fork for a large salad but a salad fork for a pre-entree/small salad.
          However, I would also put out a soup spoon for soup, cereal, etc... and my hubbie (my 6'4" very tall, big mouth hubbie) loathes soup spoons and never uses them. So I guess it is preference.

          Would you ask for a different size if you were at a dinner party or someone's house vs a restaurant? Just curious...

          1. Somewhere along the line, cutlery manufacturers lost sight of what a real salad fork is: one with a wider left-most tine to make cutting of your salad fixin's easier with just the fork. Somehow, it has now evolved into a shorter, lighter version of a dinner fork. At most restaurants I've been to lately, a duplicate dinner fork does the duty for your salad course.

            A salad fork's size is perfect for our young kids at home. Personally, I like the balance and feel of a dinner fork in my fairly large hands, regardless of what course I'm actually eating.

            2 Replies
            1. re: tubman

              Absolutely agree, tubman, on the modern salad fork issue. I did have an old, old set of tableware from my grandmother, and the salad forks were exactly as you described.

              I personally don't like the short handle/short tine salad forks, possibly because I have larger hands, possibly because I don't like the mechanics of the short handle when eating a voluminous salad. And maybe I just associate the small fork with the settings we used for our kids when they were small. The whole tool just "feels wrong" to my hand.

              I am entranced by the pageantry of the formal place setting like a crow with a shiny object, but I still can't feel comfortable eating with too diminutive a utensil. For my real life, it's dinner forks for both courses.

              Sigh...Still love those little demitasse spoons, however!

              1. re: tubman

                Cutlery manufacturers used to make salad forks that were more functional in another respect. Oneida (Flight pattern) is the only one that I can find that still makes one tine on the salad fork with a sharper point, the purpose of which is to stab unruly leaves, small vegetables (like tomatoes), or soft fruits that are difficult to get onto the fork. The salad fork really should be not so much smaller than the dinner fork that it is hard to hold with large fingers but still distinguishable from it. One absurdity in the traditional placement of the place setting is the fact that the salad fork is usually on the left but since most of us are right-handed (about 70%) we use it in the right hand. This is the best way to make use of the sharper tine on the Oneida fork mentioned above due to its placement on the fork. See the attached.
                Guten Appetit!

              2. That's interesting, I've never thought about the tines to mouth size relationship before. Although I just checked my set, and the tine widths are virtually identical. The salad fork tines and handle are shorter, but that's it.

                Now I realize it's the handle size relative to the large plate or bowl that sways me in my choice. I like having a longer handled implement for the larger dish.