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Write It 2017: 15-18s: Highly Commended: The Perfect Food Partnership

Write It 2017: 15-18s: Highly Commended: The Perfect Food Partnership Sofia Justham-Bello (19/06/2017)

I thought I knew what to write about when I saw the advertisement for this competition. Simple. I’m half Spanish so surely I must write about the perfect food partnerships the cuisine is famous for. From a young age I could bake ‘Tortilla’, a heavenly combination of eggs and potato that puts a French omelette to shame. ‘Churros y Chocolate’ are a match made in heaven; piped batter, deep fried and decorated with beads of granulated sugar, that scream to be bathed in the most viscous chocolate you can ever encounter. You cannot leave Spain without even a spoonful of ‘Paella’, its yellow rice merely a mellow background for crispy prawns, with beady eyes and stringy legs hidden amongst the carnival of coloured peppers.

Nonetheless this idea took a ‘Siesta’ on a car journey where I turned my attention to the radio. Despite the bad reception I could hear food-writer Bee Wilson singing praises about the fork. A fork? What’s so special about an ordinary fork? Yet what Ms. Wilson was elaborating on made perfect sense. I realised that I had never stopped to appreciate this basic tool that most people use to silently accompany their meals.

She explained that the genius utensil may have originated from the Roman Empire. Imagine bountiful banquets, where emperors with bronze forks, carefully spear salted green olives or stuffed dormice, studded with pine nuts, onto a fork.

I learnt that the Italians led the way in introducing the fork into our meal habits in Europe; due to the increasing presence of pasta dishes in the Italian cuisine. Nonetheless other Europeans scorned the fork and viewed it as an effeminate Italian affectation.

Instead I picture a well-lit bar snuggled into the rugged cliffs of Sorrento, teeming with robust men huddled around a wobbling table. Expertly, they turn spiked spaghetti forks, lost in the fold of their hands with great care. A miracle occurs. The perfect coil of linguine perches glamorously on the tip of the fork, with just the right amount of light olive oil hugging its surface. Minute particles of parmesan disguise themselves, only surfacing to the mouth to provide the earthy flavour the dish requires, thus proving that the fork is the best candidate to gather the silky noodles.

After listening to the interview, I decided to think of all the instances I use a fork in my life. Of course there is the standard, stainless-steel fork I use unceasingly. It slips unnoticed into countless bags, only to occasionally rip through the plastic that is holding my uniform pack lunch and jabbing me in the leg. I have also used it to whisk eggs, never marvelling at its power to manipulate the yolk into a frothy golden pool of bubbles.

My absolute favourite fork is undoubtedly the toasting fork. I can remember my father explaining to us that as a child he would toast bread with it; he then proceeded to fetch the ‘ancient’ relic, a worryingly rusty toasting fork resembling a baby gladiator’s spear. Thick slices of white bread would be instantly consumed by amber flames; re-emerging brown, laden with spiked crumbs, that softened with pools of butter.

And have we ever acknowledged the Chip Fork? Its design minimalist, but manages to pierce past an intense barrier of vinegar and salt granules, proceeding to firmly nestle amongst clouds of potato, balancing a chip to be quickly brought up to your hungry mouth.

Additionally, the fork is vital for lazy summer days, where one neighbour spontaneously has a barbecue. Flocks of people herd into the garden, clutching twenty tonnes of bread rolls and gallons of ketchup. On the green lawn is a barbecue, which they circle around like vultures, quietly watching the grilled food transform, flipped delicately with a barbecue fork; its blades rotating the succulent meat and herbaceous vegetables, cooking them tenderly.

Finally, one tends to forget that there is a certain etiquette when it comes to eating dessert. But no fear, we have forks, fit for fairies to help us out. Whether you are eating a dense cheesecake, generously drizzled with fragrant strawberry coulis, or an airy sponge cake garnished with dark chocolate, this time is enhanced by using the fork, which forces one to pause, and contemplate the delicacy they are savouring.

All these examples culminate to prove that the fork deserves to be recognised and acclaimed for improving how we eat. So next time you take hold of a fork, maybe pause to thank it sincerely for making our everyday lives easier. 


Author: Sofia Justham-Bello Email:

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