Thursday, 27 July 2017
Off-Topic: Knives and Forks
In October 1978 I bought a stainless steel cutlery set. It cost 300 Marks (150 Euros), which was very expensive at the time, but I wanted good quality to start my life as a newly independent bachelor, rather than have to make do with the cheap cutlery I'd used all my life with my parents. It was a 30-piece set, with six each of knives, forks, tablespoons, teaspoons and fish knives. Who uses fish knives anyway? I would have preferred a set without fish knives, but they were only missing in the cheaper sets.
In March 1982 I got married. The wedding present from my wife's parents was a 60-piece silver cutlery set. Yet another 12 fish knives that we would never use, but it meant we would have 18 each of the useful articles. Or so I thought.
As soon as we had the silver cutlery my wife started complaining about my cheap cutlery and said she didn't want to keep it. It's true, silver cutlery costs a lot more than stainless steel, but that doesn't mean my old cutlery set was any less valuable. Over the next few months my wife began to throw away my cutlery. I didn't complain about her disposing of the fish knives, but I frequently rescued the other cutlery from the garbage and put it in the dish washer.
All that's survived to today is the four items shown above.
Usually my wife is stubborn and refuses to accept when she's wrong. This is a rare exception. She now agrees that my stainless steel cutlery is better than the silver cutlery, but it's taken her 35 years to realise it.
There are two problems with silver cutlery. The first problem is that it becomes discoloured with time and has to be treated with silver polish to be restored to its original appearance. How many housewives want to spend time polishing their cutlery? Stainless steel cutlery retains its shine by being washed, with no additional treatment.
The second problem is more serious. Silver is sensitive to the chemicals used in dish washers. It might not be immediately apparent, but over the decades it becomes thinner. Two days ago I was eating dinner with a silver knife, and the knife snapped. That would never happen with my remaining stainless steel knife. Stainless steel cutlery can last a thousand years.
This might sound like useless information to some of my readers, but others will see it as a recommendation for their future. Don't buy silver cutlery, even if you can afford it. Stainless steel is better. If you buy a good stainless steel set, not the cheapest on offer, you will have something practical that you can use for the rest of your life.