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ISO Julia Child's "mashing fork", for lack of a better term

I watched an early French Chef episode in which she used an oversized fork to mash potatoes. It had a heavy handle and long tines that were bent at much more of an angle than an eating fork would be. It looked like it did a better job than a masher, with more ergonomic efficiency. It seems to me that it would also be better for hand-mixing doughs and batters than a mixing spoon. Are these still available anywhere? I looked on eBay and Amazon in vain. The Norpro granny fork is similar in size, but is too straight.

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  1. Are you talking about a mixing fork, similar to the one depicted below? In my copy of The French Chef cookbook, there are a couple pages of utensils that Julia used, with explanations. This is the only one that matches what you are describing. Called a mixing fork, Julia said she used it for mashing as well as blending soft foods.

    http://www.amazon.com/Norpro-1178-Gri...

    1 Reply
    1. I think that's a Foley Fork, but no longer made under that manufacturer. You can get similar per the Amazon link Trish provided or the original Foley (vintage) on eBay sometimes.

      3 Replies
      1. re: iyc_nyc

        Trish and iyc, I edited my OP to say that neither Amazon nor eBay have the style I saw on the program. It has just the right curve to both the tines and shaft to allow mashing without your elbow akimbo, and efficient mixing.

        1. re: iyc_nyc

          If you can find a Foley Fork, get it. They were made up through the 80's , so there should be some floating around.

        2. Dorie Greenspan talks about thIs I believe. You have to scroll down a little. The one pictured is somewhat like a Foley fork.

          http://epicurious.blogs.com/bonappeti...

          I don't think the one Amazon has works as well as the Foley. I have one I bought at an antique mall.

          It is hard to see this on the picture but the tines each are angled a little more on the Foley, so there is a little more cutting action.
          Here is a picture of one. I think you can bend the whole thing a little to make it the angle you want.
          http://www.tias.com/12908/PictPage/39...

          2 Replies
          1. re: wekick

            DG and I watched the same episode but I do not think her fork, or the Foley fork, are the same shape as Julia's, which I believe had longer tines and only 4 or 5 of them. Definitely more of an angle to the handle, and curve to the tines, though she may have bent them that way. It appears to be a better design than the modern ones. I once had a large antique eating fork that probably would have worked but never thought to use it as a prep tool, and long since sold it. No big deal as other tools suffice, but if I ever see one in a flea market or yard sale, I'm getting it!

            1. re: greygarious

              I would like to find that tool. Probably some thing she got in France! Maybe handmade. I have seen bigger mashers and the handle is angled more but the tines are closed at the top. I did see something online somewhere in Asia, but couldn't tell if the tines were closed on the distal end. I also have a slightly smaller pastry blending fork with 4 tines and it is cast aluminum I believe.

          2. The Amazon Granny Fork gts extremely good reviews. Thanks to this post I've decided to buy one. BTW, the Foley Fork in The French Chef Cookbook has a black handle. Apparently, from what I have read the black they had wooden handles at one point then switched.

            1. I think this is the fork you are referring to, starting at :20. Julia on David Letterman, back in the day.

              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHX0pv...

              Satiated

              2 Replies
              1. re: Satiated

                What a wonderful video! Loved it! Julia was one sharp cookie.

                1. re: Satiated

                  I have dial-up, so it took over a half hour to download 30 seconds of the clip but I think it is part of the PBS special remembering Julia, because I've seen it in recent years. Enjoyable clip but no, that's not the same fork.

                2. Would it be a fork like this?

                  http://www.kingarthurflour.com/shop/i...

                  I was thinking of this when reading your post.

                  I looked at the Julia video w/Letterman, and I have that fork in a white plastic. I use it for pasta, as I don't think my white version would work really well for mashing.

                  1. I have several old granny forks, including one given to me by an elderly Tennessee woman in her farm-house kitchen, so it certainly qualifies! All of mine are rather small, though. I still use them as mixing forks, especially for the initial mixing of meatloaf ingredients and stirring cheese into a bechamel.

                    Yes, I spotted that "granny fork" in a cookware catalog recently and was put off by its flatness.

                    1. I use a big, heavy stainless steel serving fork (like for dishing out sliced roast beef at a buffet lunch). It's about 9 inches long. I'd suggest searching for "serving fork" at Amazon. Lots of choices.

                       
                      1. Since this conversation is over two years old, perhaps no one cares anymore, but.... perhaps they do! I saw Julia's mixing fork on her episode of the French Chef about Terrines and Patés. I was very excited because it was something I have never seen before and it looks to be very basic but multifunctional. Perhaps it is the same one she used for the mashed potatoes.

                        I went back through and looked at it frame by frame, googled again and again, with all the possible name variations, and looked at several local kitchen stores. What I came up with is that she is using this: http://www.amazon.com/RSVP-Endurance-... or something virtually identical to it. The tines on this fork have uniform length and curve, so it is not a Foley, Pastry, or Granny Fork. It has a black plastic handle that is the same size and shape as the one in the episode. The tines have a pretty severe curve (although a little difficult to see in the product photo) like the one she had, but it is posible that she bent them even further (this would be easy to do). It is entirely possible that she had different similar tools -- the one in the Letterman clip is totally different -- but this is definitely the one she used in the paté episode. I was able to find one at a local shop. It only cost a few dollars and I am anxious to try it out.

                        Good luck finding the tool you are looking for. Hope this helps!

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: oceanhillbk

                          Thank you - it is helpful to know that there's more curve than one would think from the picture.

                          1. re: oceanhillbk

                            I care! I'm watching that episode now and just ordered the fork. Thanks! Can't wait to get it.

                            1. re: oceanhillbk

                              Oh I think this is it! And may have to buy it!

                              My mom had what is known as a foley fork - and it was AWESOME. By the time I could get it from her, it had over 50 years of use and was a bit mangled. So I got the norpro granny fork - and it's not "it".

                              This looks oh so close...

                              Thank you for the post!

                            2. Why don't you just use a ricer?

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: pdxgastro

                                Because I loathe wasteful unitaskers, and because a ricer takes up a lot more storage room, and is pricier, than a fork.

                                1. re: greygarious

                                  Does this article help?

                                  http://shine.yahoo.com/shine-food/bac...

                                  It's a lot like the Granny fork linked above, but there is a better shape to it.

                                  1. re: MplsM ary

                                    Thanks - obviously the writer and I saw the same show. I put the fork on my Amazon list.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      I finally got the RSVP Endurance model http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000... a few weeks ago. It's not the same as Julia's but works really well and I *love* it.
                                      In addition to mashing, it is excellent for mixing muffin-type batters, scrambling eggs, and the like.

                                    2. re: MplsM ary

                                      That's the Dorie Greenspan article, reprinted.

                                      That said, I did buy the endurance fork from Amazon and it looks awesome (just got it today.) The handle has a bit more curve than I recall of my parents Foley but the fork itself appears to be spot on. The right shape tines and curve.

                                      After I use it I'll report back.

                                2. Is this the "potato fork" you're asking about? Sorry the photo is so bad, but I captured it from a very old Julia video and it ain't easy to do! Anyway, if you can watch videos on youtube, you can find the whole "Potato Show" here:
                                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6vyP_...

                                  As for what it is and what it's called, I haven't a clue! I doubt very much it was a tool she learned about at Le Cordon Bleu, but who knows? Maybe she did. Good luck and I'm curious whether this *IS* what you're looking for? And for the record, you could do the same thing she's doing in this video (13 minutes and five seconds into the program) with an old fashioned wire potato masher like this one:
                                  http://tinyurl.com/p3a6unp

                                   
                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    That IS the one I saw her use. As mentioned upthread, I bought the RSVP Endurance fork over a year ago and am very happy with it, though its bend is not as sharp an angle as Julia's was. I have had one of the old-fashioned serpentine mashers you linked to for decades. It does the job too, but not as quickly as the mashing fork. It also requires more force than the fork does.

                                    1. re: greygarious

                                      I used to watch her first run shows when she came on the air with the original "The French Chef" series. If I remember my and her "chronology" correctly, I was taking daily "cooking lessons" from my newly retired licensed haute cuisine chef/housekeeper when I lived in Turkey about the same time she was finishing up her Cordon Bleu classes, or something like that. Anyway, I used to watch her first run shows to see if she knew anything I did not, as well as to see if she made any major cooking faux pas. THAT "potato fork" I thought was one of them. I could not understand why she never used a potato ricer on the show. In those days potato ricers were pretty much the standard for haute cuisine. A VERY classic way to serve potatoes was to ride them directly into a serving bowl letting them pile up into a mountain of potatoes (more like cone shaped than mountain), then top them undisturbed with a "lava flow" of drawn butter. The potatoes were cooked in salted water, so they needed no seasoning. Nearly 20 years ago I gave my potato ricer to my daughter, and have been kicking myself ever since!

                                      If you do just happen to have a potato ricer, give it a shot!

                                  2. It was in fact a Foley Fork that Julia used and likely that she bent it to the shape seen in the video through continued use. They are readily available on eBay.