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Can you identify these unusual Utensils? Take the Quiz!

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  1. I got 9 correct of 20. My mother had the first item shown.

    1. I got 10., but I was only sure about 5 or so. Boy that was hard!

      1. I got 10 out of 20 correct - and having read so many posts from marrow lovers, I'd bet those utensils could easily make a comeback today!

        1. Funny, I got 9 out of 20 as well.

          1. I got 12 right - my mother in law has given me all of her old silver serving pieces and a lot of them are in those photos. Thanks for sharing!

            1. I got 10 but most of my answers were guesses so I really didn't even know all of the measly 10 I got right! I enjoyed it, though.

              1. That asparagus server is the strangest asparagus server I've ever seen in my life. I suspect it's from Mars. I missed that and one other one, but can't remember which. All of which only goes to show I have a bunch of useless trivia firmly packed between my ears. Think how great it would be if I had useful trivia...! Or is that an oxymoron?

                    1. That was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I barely came out ahead -- 11 out of 20.

                      1. The Cheese Scooper question -- #12 -- is totally weird. The question describes the scooper as being "designed to scoop out one particular kind of cheese" --- Stilton -- and then the answer shows three cheeses, and not one of them is the cheese the utensil was designed for -- Stilton.

                        It's interesting how the designs reflect the elegance and lack of technology of their era -- e.g., the elegant silver ice cream knife rather than the more efficient ice cream scooper that came later. The toast fork, bacon server, asparagus server, all poorly designed for their function. BTW, was it ever bad etiquette to pick up a piece of toast from a serving basket or plate with one's clean hands? The lemon pricker, whose tines went all Uri Geller. Loved the tomato spoon.

                        18 Replies
                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          Hi, maria lorraine... Playing "develis advocate" a bit here (undoubtedly because I just watched a PBS program on the history of mankind, and I am extremely annoyed with some of the giant conclusion leaping that went on there), but I'm not convinced the ice cream knife has as much to do with lack of technology as a different style of serving and eating ice cream than we practice today.

                          For openers, the ice cream wouldn't have been as hard as we're used to. No mechanical freezers so they couldn't build the "ice cream bricks" that we have to contend with today. Good thing, because they didn't have microwaves to nuke it to scoopable termperatures either.

                          Scoops are the most likely serving tool for the earliest ice creams. Ice cream, as we more or less know it, was developed in the 17th century when it was discovered that combining ice (snow) and salt would super-cool things. Prior to that, frozen desserts had been ices and "gratinees." Popsicles without a stick and a little on the mushy side. When the ice/salt supercooling was discovered, cream soon followed into the recipe because it gave great texture and taste. The rich and famous had their ice cream served in very elegant porcelain jars or urns with lids. These would have been chilled before the ice cream was added, and the most logical way to get it out and onto a dish is a long handled scoop or spoon. I've seen the jars (gorgeous!) but not the serving utensiles

                          By the time of Careme, and later Escoffier, the presentation of ice cream was often in a giant molded extravaganza set on an ice cold porcelain plate that in turn set on an ornate silver tray brought to table when it was time to serve. "Ooohs" and "Ahhhs" were required. The ice cream would have been cut with a knife to preserve the molded design on each portion as much as possible just to keep the "Ooohs" and Ahhhs" going.

                          So it wasn't as much a case of lacking technology as it is a matter of custom and presentation. Ever seen a banquet menu from way back then? Mind boggling! I've never come across any information on how much and how many dishes were expected to be consumed by a single diner, but even if said diner only ate one teaspoonful of each dish, he or she would have ended up in desperate need of a vomitoria! But at least it was considered extremely rude to clean your plate back then.

                          But I sure agree on their version of an asparagus server! I think someone slipped in the wrong photo. Its form doesn't come close to meeting the requirements of its function. That, plus it doesn't come close to any of the many asparagus servers -- antique and recent -- that I've ever seen. But maybe I'm just ticked because I got that one wrong. I didn;t think it had a reasonable form/function ratio with any of the foods mentioned.

                            1. re: maria lorraine

                              You're very very welcome! I tried Googling "ice cream jars" and "ice cream urns" so I could share pictures, but couldn't find anything! Even went to the Louvre's website and searched their files. I must be calling them the wrong thing, but many of them are gorgeous! I've seen French ones -- Limoge -- and they were in pairs. When they came up at auction, they brought prices of at least a McMansion and a half! If anyone knows the proper name for them or has a URL for one, please share. As long as we're doing history of esoteric food service, we may as well do it up brown! '-).

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                Are those the ones that have liners in them, for ice underneath? I think I know where to look - will post back ...

                                1. re: Caroline1

                                  These are what I was thinking of:


                                  But they refer to them as ice pails and fruit coolers, so I may well be wrong.

                                  I have a pair shaped liked these:


                                  But they are 19th C not 18th, have no maker's mark, and have, I think, a much prettier design.

                                  This place is about 20 blocks from me - just love the store - but incredibly pricey (though amazing quality).

                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                    Those are lovely, but not what I'm remembering. These urns are the shape I'm talking about, though obviously not the same intended use.
                                    The formal ice cream "urns' or "jars" or "cassolettes" (though cassollettes usually have a narrower neck) were footed like these, and came in pairs like these, and had the wider neck to faciliate reaching inside like these.. I just don't remember whether they had a liner (if I ever knew. When things are that expensive, I don't touch them, never mind lift the lid!), but it would make sense if they did. Pack the inside with ice and salt! I do recall either reading or being told that they were in pairs because one was at each end of the dessert table, which left me wondering if they both held the same flavor.

                                    I wish I could remember where I've seen them! I know I've seen them in more than one venue, but if it was in places like Topkapi or Dolmabahci Palaces in Istanbul, that would certainly place them in the one-of-a-kind category. But it seems to me I've also seen them in books and in antiques showrooms or museums in California.

                                    Has anyone else ever stopped to wonder about all the storage room required back when people entertained like this? They needed another entire house to hold it all!

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      They stored that stuff where people today store their George Foreman, food processor, espresso maker, waffle iron, toaster, toaster oven, microwave, standmixer, salad shooter, coffee grinder, bread machine, crock pot, ice cream maker, steamer, ...

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Indeed - though the antique pieces (well, many of them) are so decorative as well.

                                2. re: Caroline1

                                  "Ever seen a banquet menu from way back then? Mind boggling! "

                                  Absolutely right! Here you have one:


                                  1. re: RicRios

                                    I was thinking of something more like this: '-)

                                    Dinner served in the Brighton Pavilion to HRH the Prince Regent and Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia
                                    18 January 1817

                                    8 SOUPES
                                    Les profitralles de volaille à la moderne
                                    Le potage santè au consommé
                                    Le potage de mounton à l'anglaise
                                    Le potage de riz à la Crèzy
                                    Le potage de pigeons à la marinière
                                    Le potage de karick à l'indienne
                                    Le potage à la d'Orlèans
                                    Le potage de celeri consommé de volaille

                                    8 RELEVÉS DE POISSON
                                    Les perches à la Hollandaise
                                    La truite saumonée à la Génoise
                                    Le cabillaud à la crème
                                    Le brocket à l'Espagnol garni de laitance
                                    Les soles au gratin et aux truffes
                                    Le turbot, sauce aux crevettes
                                    Les merlans frits à l'Anglaise
                                    Le hure d'esturgeon au vin de Champagne

                                    15 ASSIETTES VOLANTS À SERVIR APRÉS LES POISSONS
                                    De petits vol-au-vents à la Reine
                                    De petit pâtès de mauviettes
                                    De croquettes à la royale
                                    De canetons à la Luxembourg
                                    De filets de poisons à l'Orly

                                    8 GROSSES PIÉCES
                                    Le quartier de sanglier marine
                                    Les poulardes à l'Anglaise
                                    Les filtes de boeuf à la Napolitaine
                                    Les faisans truffès à la Perigueux
                                    La dinde à la Godard moderne
                                    La longe de veau à la Monglas
                                    Les perdrix aux choux et raciness glacés
                                    Le rosbif de quartier de mounton

                                    40 ENTRÉES
                                    (arranged around the relevés de poissons as indicated)
                                    La sante de poulardes à la d'Artois
                                    Les ris de veau glacés à la chicorèe
                                    La croustade de grives au gratin
                                    Les poulets à la reine, à la Chevry
                                    Les côtelettes de lapereaux en lorgnette
                                    (Les perches à la Hollandaise)
                                    Les quenelles de volaille en turban
                                    Les cailles à la mirepoix, ragout à la fiancière
                                    La magnonaise de perdreaux à la gelée
                                    L'emince de langues à la Clermont
                                    Les poulets dépèces l'Italienne
                                    (La truite saumonée à la Génoise)
                                    Les filets de volaille en demi-deuil
                                    Les aiguillettes de canrds à la bigarade
                                    La darne de saumon au beurre de Montpellier
                                    Le pain de volaille à la royale
                                    Les filets d'agneaux à la Toulouse
                                    (Le cabillaud à la crème)
                                    La caisse de lapereaux au laurier
                                    La blanquette de poulardes aux champignons
                                    La casserole au riz à la Monglas
                                    Les petits canetons à la Nivernoise
                                    Le sauté de faisans à la Perigord
                                    Les sautés de perdreaux au supreme
                                    La chevalier de poulets garni d'Orly
                                    La timbale de nouilles à la Polonaise
                                    Les escalopes de chevreuil à l'Espagnole
                                    Les ballotines de poulardes à la tomate
                                    (Les soles au gratin)
                                    Les bécasses, entrée de broche à l'Espagnole
                                    Les filtes de volaille à la belle vue
                                    Les hateletes d'aspic de filtes de soles
                                    Les cervelles de veaux à la Milanaise
                                    Les escalopes de gelinottes, sauce salmis
                                    (Le turbot, sauce aux crevettes)
                                    Les filets de poulardes glacés aux concombres
                                    Les boudins de faisins à la Richelieu
                                    La salade de volaille à l'ancienne
                                    La noix de jambon aux épinards
                                    Les ailerons de poulardes à la Piémontaise
                                    (Les merlans frits à l'Anglaise)
                                    Les pigeons au beurre d'écrevisses
                                    La poularde à la Maquignon
                                    Le vol-au-vent à la Nesle, Allemande
                                    Les cotelettes de mountons à la purée de pommes de terres
                                    Les filets de poulardes à la Pompadour

                                    8 PIÉCES MONTÉES
                                    An Italian pavilion
                                    A Swiss hermitage
                                    Giant Parisian meringue
                                    Croque-en-bouche aux pistache
                                    A Welsh hermitage
                                    A grand oriental pavilion (the Brighton Pavilion in pastry)
                                    Un gros nougat à la française
                                    Croque-en-bouche aux anis

                                    8 ROASTS
                                    Les bécasses bardées
                                    Le dindonneau
                                    Les faisans piques
                                    Les poulardes au cresson
                                    Les sarcelles au citron
                                    Les poulets à la reine
                                    Les gelinottes
                                    Les cailles bardées

                                    32 ENTREMETS
                                    (of which 16 are desserts, with indication of arrangement around roasts and grosses pièces)
                                    Les concombres farcies au velouté
                                    La gelée de groseilles (conserve)
                                    (Les bécasses bardées)
                                    Les gaufress aux raisins de Corinthe
                                    Les épinards à l'Anglaise
                                    (Le Pavilion Italian)
                                    Le buisson des homards
                                    Les tartelettes d'abrictos pralineés
                                    (Les dindonneaux)
                                    La geléé de marasquins fouettée
                                    Les oeufs brouilles aux truffes
                                    (La grosse meringue à la Parisienne)
                                    Les navets à la Chartres
                                    Le pouding de pommes au rhum
                                    (Les faisans piques)
                                    Les diadémes au gros sucré
                                    Les choux-fleurs à la magnonaise
                                    (L'Hermitage Suisse)
                                    Les truffes à la serviette
                                    Les fanchonettes aux avelines
                                    (Les poulardes au cressons)
                                    La gelée de citrons renversées
                                    La croute aux champignons
                                    Les cardes à l'Espagnol
                                    La gelée de fraises (conserve)
                                    (Les cailles bardées)
                                    Les gateaux renversés, glacés au gros sucré
                                    Le buisson de crevettes
                                    (Le Pavilion Asiatique)
                                    La salade de salsifis à l'Italienne
                                    Les gateaux à la dauphine
                                    (Les gelinottes)
                                    Le fromage Bavarois aux abricots
                                    Les laitues à l'essence de jambon
                                    (Le gros nougat à la française)
                                    Les champignons grilles demi-glacé
                                    Les pannequets à la Chantilly
                                    (Les poulets à la reine)
                                    Les pains à la duchesse
                                    Les truffes à la serviette
                                    (L'Hermitage Gaulois)
                                    Les pommes de terre à la Lyonnaise
                                    Les gateaux d'amandes glaces à la rose
                                    (Les sarcelles aux citrons)
                                    La gelée de cuirassau de Hollande
                                    Les céleris à l'Espagnol

                                    12 ASSIETTES VOLANTES
                                    4 soufflés de pomme
                                    4 soufflés à la vanille
                                    4 fondus

                                    EDIT: Forgot to add, this is a menu from the talents of Antonin Careme, the world's first celebrity chef.

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE
                                      POST THE WINE LIST !!!

                                      1. re: RicRios

                                        I didn't buy the book.
                                        Cooking for Kings
                                        The life of Antonin Carême,
                                        the first celebrity chef
                                        Ian Kelly
                                        Published by Short Books, £14.99
                                        In this concoction of biography and Regency cookbook, Ian Kelly draws on Carême's memoirs to trace the chef's meteoric rise from Paris orphan to international celebrity. On the way, he provides new insights into the lives and loves of the gourmet-kings for whom Carême worked and a dramatic and sensuous picture of one of the most momentous periods of European history.

                                        My guess is that the wine list will not be given. It rarely is for such banquets because the "standard" was to serve a gazillion of 'em!

                                        EDIT: There is a link on that page to some of Careme's original recipes I'd be tempted to try the first one given there if I knew where to buy calves udders and rooster testes. But as soon as I find 'em, I'm cookin'! '-)

                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                        I could see that working if people knew roughly that there would be more or less so many dishes for each course and select the ones they wanted as they were served. Kind of like sitting down to dinner at a restaurant with a long menu where the waiters bring out every single item.

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          I may or may not understand correctly, but I think the diners got up from the table and went to the HUGE table with the food of the course they were working on and either served themselves or had the staff serve them. Some tables held both sweet and savory dishes, and they all had huge food "assemblages" in the center in the form of buildings and statues and other such masterpieces. The diagrams of food placement that I've seen show the dishes all the way around the table in a front row and a back row surrounding the enormous centerpiece.

                                          Having read many of the recipes, I'm not convinced I'd enjoy them -- simple is often better -- but I would LOVE to walk around and look everything over. From the drawings in my cookbooks, the foods and centerpieces were unbelievable! Sometimes three and four feet tall.

                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                            And, in all honesty, when I studied Careme, and had to study Careme, the point wasn't to eat, but to *show* -- show magnificent creations, constructions of food a yard high, food sculptures, excess, artistry.

                                            The movie "Vatel" is an excellent reference. Though based on Careme in part, it's the story of Vatel.

                                            And, from there, I have to send you to one of my favorite Chowhound threads, one that talks of both Careme and Vatel:

                                            If You Were Offered One Free Meal Anywhere In The World...

                                            1. re: maria lorraine

                                              The meal anywhere thread is fun. Some of the answers are quite touching.

                                              Some of Careme's creations are obviously to be seen, if not savored. Most notably those centerpieces and gazillion ingredent dishes for grand banquettes. One such recipe is here: http://www.channel4.com/history/micro...
                                              Which is what I wass alluding to with the "as soon as I can find calves udders" remark. But the second and third recipes on the page are amazingly simple and straight forward for the time, and I therefore suspect they must be incrediby flavorful if the recipes were kept that "pure." I've added them both to my recipes to try, though the peas for the soup will probably be much easier to come by than great fresh sea bass in this land locked area. So it seems that not all of Careme's food was intended to be solely eaten with the eyes! But you're absolutely right that that is what he was most famous for.

                                              As for the fun question of your referenced thread on where to eat if time and price played no role in the choice, my choice(s) would undoubtedly be for places I've already been for those tastes that vibrate in my memory but have not been reattainable. Or maybe I'm just playing it safe by wanting something I know would be great as opposed to risking disappointment based on someone else's opinion or repuation. I can't imagine that I'm the only one who has ever gone to a famous and fabled table and come away humming that old Peggy Lee lyric:
                                              Is that all there is?
                                              Is that all there is?
                                              If that's all there is, my friend, then let's keep dancing.
                                              Bring on the booze, let's have a ball, if that's all there is.

                                              I suspect calves' udders and rooster testes would bring about the same reaction. But they'd be pretty!

                                              On the other hand, if time travel is allowed, and if you don't have to pass through metal detectors, and you can have unlimited secret pockets... Well then, take me to that Careme banquet and let me at that silverware...! '-)

                                        2. re: Caroline1

                                          makes the russian revolution make sense ,no?

                                  2. 12 out of 20. When I was a teenager I used to study Emily Post. Weird, but true.

                                    One really important thing I got out of that was learning that all of our "etiquette" conventions came out of making things easier for people or for them to feel safe or comfortable.

                                    I was given an antique asparagus server as a wedding gift. I thought it was an odd gift and returned it, but remembered that it existed as a distinct piece. I got the question wrong anyway because the one I got was completely different with a scissor-like tong designed to hold the asparagus onto the fork part.

                                    The stilton server was a giveaway b/c the utensil was apparently English and the other cheeses (feta, mozarella and gouda) originated in other countries.

                                    totally fun.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: chicgail

                                      Besdies which, Stilton is the only cheese on that list that's really scoopable.

                                    2. I got 20/20,six were educated guesses.I alway poke around old silver and kitchen stuff
                                      at flea markets,auctions and thrift stores.Some was easy because I grew up with
                                      FRANCIS I & TIFFANY ROSE.Relics from another era,$ on e-bay.
                                      It was fun THANKS

                                      1. I was 12/20, but thoroughly enjoyed this quiz and learned a few things. Thanks for posting it!

                                        1. 19 out of 20!

                                          When I was a metals student there was an assignment to re-interpret eating utensils. Victorian silver collections were a great source of inspiration. While I seldom remember much that is actually useful, I guess I still remember the esoteric trivia best!

                                          1. 7/20? Officially the lowest score? Man, that was rough, but fun!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. 14 correct. I do think that it would have been helpful with a couple of them to note size (like the lemon fork). The potatoe fork was interesting, looked like something that I made during school lunch (along with a spoon bracelet) that I had to write an apology letter to the school for.

                                              1. 10 out of 20, I missed the stilton utensil compeltely!
                                                The other thing I was completely baffled with was why they would use that ugly sporkish thing for ice cream, besides the kids could poke an eye out.

                                                1. 10 our of 20, some of those things looked mighty dangerous.