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Downton Abbey and the Bouillion Spoon

January 22, 2013

If you're not fully up to speed with PBS' Downton Abbey, you may want to stop reading this now. But if you happened to watch Season 3, Episode 3, you know that Alfred, Miss O'Brien's nephew, is getting coached on the fineries of the upstairs cutlery by Mr. Carson. With an array of spoons in front of him, Alfred starts naming them: "Teaspoon, egg spoon, melon spoon, grapefruit spoon, jam spoon..." I was kind of shocked by how many different types of spoons even existed. And to think, a footman needed to identify precisely which spoon was which. The episode got me thinking about several things: 1) just how much money was spent on the fine silver, given the numerous pieces and sets? 2) the labor needed to care for such cutlery! 3) nowadays, who owns and uses such specialized flatware? I own grapefruit spoons (purchased individually and separately), and I freely use my teaspoons as soup spoons because, frankly, I find soup spoons too large for my mouth. When dining at home casually or entertaining guests, just how formal do you get with your flatware? (Image: Bouillon Spoon, globalindustrial.com)

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