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Feb 19, 2012 10:05 AM

common salt and pepper bowls

So, I'm feeling incorrect: we went to a restaurant recently that had a bowl of salt and one of ground pepper on the table, rather than shakers. Each had an itty bitty spoon to go with it. I found that it was very hard to control a proper sprinkle or dusting of either salt of pepper from the spoon.

What do you all think is the best/most proper way to handle such an arrangement? (I was tempted to just take a pinch with my fingers, but I'm betting that a lot of people wouldn't be happy with that.)

Thanks for the guidance!

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  1. Interesting, I've never encountered pepper served that way, but I have seen (but not used) salt cellars.
    I would have put a tiny anount in the palm of my hand and then sprinkled from there, discarding the rest on my napkin or bread plate.

    1 Reply
    1. I find this one of the most irritating things I come across in restaurants. I'm pleased that you didnt take a pinch but always wonder how many previous customers have dipped in before I sat at the table. We always decide not to have salt or pepper in such circumstances. I am surprised that the practice is permissable under food safety regulations - it won't be when I become world dictator.

      As for spoon technique, it comes with practice. I inherited a small collection of cut glass salt bowls and silver spoons when my mother died. Occasionally we use one.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        Good point Harters... restaurants in the US (in NY anyway) have to serve sugar in packets or from pourable containers. And salt/pepper from shakers or individual packets. So I'm not sure if ths salt cellar is OK in restaurants.

        1. re: Harters

          " I'm pleased that you didnt take a pinch but always wonder how many previous customers have"

          would wonder about that too.......that'd be a reason to not use the s&p

        2. While it may be uncommon on the American is not uncommon to be seen in other cultures. I know the French like to serve certain meats, pates and terrines with coarse salt. The Japanese like to offer Togorashi with meals....and the Chinese offer Seasoned Salt or Sichuan Seasoned Salt for certain poultry and seafood dishes.

          All are usually served in a simple bowl or covered box, with or without a spoon..

          1. I use salt cellars and spoons in my home (but pepper in a grinder), have never seen it in restaurants. One gets accustomed to using the salt spoon, but spooning some into your palm and using it from there seems perfectly acceptable.
            As much of a germ-phobe as I am, I wouldn't abstain from salt and pepper for fear of a prior diner dipping his fingers in it. The chances are much greater that someone used the restroom, or blew his nose, didn't wash his hands, and then picked up the salt shaker or sugar shaker leaving germs. The chance that there will be a germ on a grain of salt is pretty minimal compared to the other possibilities.

            2 Replies
              1. re: sandylc

                Haha, sorry. Welcome to life inside the head of a one-time microbiology student.