If you’re like me and you like eating desserts, it will come as no surprise that eating the last course of a meal in France and in the U.S. requires a mastery of kitchenware juggling in order to indulge. Yes, you have guessed correctly, the war has begun between the fork and the spoon.
Guests and friends who come to my house for dinner always experience dessert à la française, meaning with a spoon sitting above the plate. If they’re unaware of this dessert-eating difference, it can be quite challenging at first. Some people will hold their spoon in the air to clearly show that a mistake has been made, waiting for someone (me?) to say “Sorry, this was an oversight”, while others will carefully take a shameful quick peek at other guests, hoping for a courageous someone to dig first and all the while thinking “Are we really doing this with a spoon?” It’s another one of my little pleasurable dinner games. The more outspoken guests will raise their voice and request that a switch be made – this is how forks end up on my table at dessert time.
The table has turned on me many times and I found myself on many occasions asking a waiter for a spoon so I can “properly” enjoy my dessert. Disappointment can only follow wide-open eyes and transient lack of motor reactions from the wait staff as they bring me either a tiny teaspoon or a big spoon. This is dessert, not soup! Americans will need to continuously explain to me over the next decades to come as to why it seems logical to eat dessert with forks. My fellow Europeans will be scratching their heads to know that when you order cake or pie in this country, it comes with a fork – even if a scoop of ice cream is served with it! I am never sure if it means I’m allowed to lick my plate at the end to enjoy the last bit of ice cream or if I simply need to use my finger to be part of the Clean Plate Club. In any case, not very proper!
Both dessert fork and spoon are provided in upscale restaurants in France just like in the U.S. They are supposed to be used simultaneously as the fork pushes the food into the spoon for proper eating. But it looks like both sides of the pond dropped one of them for daily usage on modern kitchen tables therefore becoming complete opposites. Our ancestors probably knew that dessert eaters and lovers across Europe and the U.S. would be challenged in the future because patents for “spork” and “foon” designs were already created at the end of the 19th century. I don’t know if a “spork” is the answer to all our dessert prayers but it is an interesting concept and could mean a reconciliation to come.
Whether you like to stab your dessert digging into it with a fork and ferocious appetite or prefer to romantically scoop and spoon your way till the end of a sweet indulgence, take the quick poll below. After all, we’re all here to eat dessert!