Ode to an Oversized Fork
I have spent the last several weeks cooking, dutifully photographing my food, testing and then writing out recipes every afternoon (during my break), in the hopes of compiling a serious collection to share with others. Today was hard for some reason. I tried early in the morning. I tried after lunch (but fell asleep instead). I tried after I was done cooking dinner, and it still wasn't happening. So, I looked backward and found a funny piece I once wrote as a submission to Saveur Magazine's Top 100 (it was politely refused). It was written during a time when I spent my summers caring and cooking for a gaggle of 6+ children; some my own, some related, and some unrelated, but part of our large, extended family nonetheless. Interestingly, I still feel exactly the same way about that fork.
Ode to an Oversized Fork
In a cook's kitchen, where I generally feel that I have whatever I want in terms of gadgets and tools, I somehow manage to use an old, oversized serving fork more than any other for the acts of stirring, beating, folding, mixing, smashing, and gesticulating. It is a humble instrument, left by my grandmother Marjorie who was my cooking mentor. The fork came with a set of crappy utensils purchased in the 1960's for her modest Nantucket ranch house (bought on a public school teacher's salary!). I don't know the brand, but it is solid and utilitarian, four-pronged, and squarish. It fits perfectly in my hand.
In the morning the fork comes out. It gets to work mixing pancake or waffle batter, beating up a batch of biscuits, muffins or scones, scrambling a dozen eggs, moving potatoes around in a skillet, shifting bacon or any other porky breakfast treat in the pan, even dangerously spearing a piece of bread that is stuck in the toaster.
In the afternoon, I break out the fork for mixing up a batch of chicken or egg salad, smashing up a batch of bluefish pate, tossing a salad (using my hand as the salad spoon) or for spearing something off the grill.
In the evenings when making desserts, I have been known to take shortcuts with a Cuisinart. Most times however, I am content to use my fork. It has tenderly blended fat into flour for hundreds of pie and tart crusts over the years. Cookie dough? Cake batter? A batch of brownies? Absolutely.
I have gone so far to point out to family members that if I had to choose one tool to keep in my kitchen, it just might be that fork. It is a better choice for stirring sauces than the whisk/wooden spoon combo. It serves as a spatula in a pinch. You can spear and poke holes to release steam with it (have I convinced you yet?) .But of course at the end of the day, you could always use it for its original purpose: moving food from platter to plate along side its accomplice, the oversized serving spoon.