“When you choose to make this dinnerware duo yours, you’re telling the world that you care about design,” the Nambe web site brags. You’re also telling the world that you don’t care about properly seasoning your food. This salt and pepper duo is one of many whose design obscures its contents. Which is the salt shaker, and which holds pepper? Yes, one hole is slightly bigger than the other but we’re not sure what that means. Indistinguishable salt and pepper shakers, we christen you diner enemy #1. (And tell your friend the salt cellar, aka the fine dining equivalent of the communal bar nut bowl, that we’re coming for his grubby little self too.)
Stemless flutes concentrate the bouquet but warm up the liquid more quickly. And then there are those irritating baseless sets where you pull glasses, often shaped like flowers, out of a bucket. Yes, they’re festive, but please only bring them out when you want a one-gulp flute of bubbly.
This sad little cutlery set looks like the stubby FAA-approved utensils that you get on transatlantic flights. The forks tines are so short they resemble a spork. The spoon is so shallow you’ll be lucky to convey much more than a droppers-ful of food. And the knife is so rounded it’s dull, all of which leaves diners desperately ripping and tearing at food like cavemen back from the woolly mammoth hunt.
Sometimes simple is better. The proliferation of table-mounted, high-tech wine openers on the market today leaves me yearning for my $3, plain-Jane corkscrew I purchased over a decade ago for a picnic in college. You should not need an engineering degree just to open a bottle of Brunello, especially when you’re already a few bottles in.
We’re all for forward-thinking design, but plates should complement what’s being served on them. And wiping the last delicious ribbon of hollandaise from a plate only to be confronted by beady beetle eyes is enough to make us lose our brunch. We’ll leave the bug dishes to Fear Factor, thank you very much.
The Japanese know product design. Take kaiseki. It’s an entire art form dedicated to the presentation of food.But, in the case of this pasta fork, those skills have not been well-applied to the wonders of Western cuisine. Its mutant mini-tine is meant to mimic the thumb on your hand to make grasping noodles easier. Yet, without the opposable movement, the fork thumb ends up being about as useful as an ice cream scoop at a sushi bar.
These beautiful pieces of silver are something that you’re expected to register for, or would be handed down to you by your grandmother. But can it serve a piece of pie or cake? Between the rounded edge, and the heap of detailing, it would be impossible to get a clean cut, let alone something resembling a slice.
There is nothing worse at a cocktail party than trying to hold your cocktail in one hand (undoubtedly in a spill-inducing coupe glass) and then be confronted with appetizers served in these stupid over-sized spoons. They’re too big to fit in your mouth, so you have to do some awkward side-slurping action that generally ensures that its contents will find their way onto your clothes. Finger food should be consumable with fingers, people. And if you’re serving soup, I’ll have it in a shot glass.
Everyone rags on the culinary shortfalls of our crosspond neighbors, but the biggest British crime against food-manity is the toast rack. Toast gets cold quickly, at which point it become impossible to spread on the toppings that make toast delicious. Though easy on the eye, this rack leaves you left with dry, useless slices – or a mass of bread crumbs with chunks of unmelted butter.