Thursday, October 8, 2009

Spoon Man

I just realized, at lunch, that I've probably eaten with a "spoon", you know, the utensil, more in the past 30 months than in the past 30 years! Yeah, I ate a lot of jello, cereal, soup, etc. growing up, but really not that often.

When I think about it, I picture a "fork" when I think about eating in America and "Chopsticks" when I daydream about eating Japanese or Korean food. Before I came to Thailand, I just assumed that chopsticks would be the utensil of choice, but actually, people use spoons a lot here.

Soups, curries, rice dishes...all eaten mainly with a spoon. A fork is often used kinda like people use a knife in the states...you know, to slide food up onto the spoon. Pae actually uses the fork and spoon about equally, she's been doing it since birth...but when it comes to grabbing some utensils out of the dish rack, I always end up grabbing a fork and spoon for her and a lone spoon for myself.

I guess it was similar in Korea when I was there. The Koreans used to laugh at the Americans because we would go there and sit for a lunch or dinner on a Korean Army base or at a church member's home, and we would struggle to eat with chopsticks. Even the most expert chopstick usage would get grins and chuckles.

Why? Turns out that Koreans also use spoons a lot, they actually use the spoon to eat pretty much any rice dish, every stew, every soup...with chopsticks being used for side dishes, noodles, ramyun and meat buffets! So a wide, shallow, long handled spoon and thin metal chopsticks for pretty much every meal.

I don't even know the word for "fork" in Korean and I used to be very proficient in the language...just rarely had to ask for one, and when we did, we just popped out the Konglish "fo-ku". The Korean would generally look at the mangled looking metal chopsticks in our hand with a solitary piece of rice stuck to it, a plate still 90% full when everyone else's was almost empty, and a line of dropped kimchi and fish cake from the center of the table dish to your rice bowl, laugh and go searching for a "fo-ku". If I had 100 won for every time I dropped a pickled cucumber or a piece of curried potato on my white shirt in Korea...those needle-like chopsticks are for anorexics!

Forks aren't that hard to find here in Thailand, they're actually a part of most meals. It's just that I rarely need to use them. I've become a spoon man!

Thai's use them in tandem to separate the parts of dishes that aren't eaten, to scoop with, and of course to eat different parts of the meal. So much do they use them both at the same time, spoon in the left hand, fork in the right, that I don't imagine that the "spork" ever took here. Here you would actually need one of each rather than both combined.

A slightly related tangent to end this entry...I so rarely used spoons in America that when I moved back to Utah from Hawaii in the late 90's I always heard my little sisters talking about so-and-so "spooning" so-and-so and I always pictured it as being something bad...

Not a spoon man at the time, I analyzed the term and related it to the word "fork". Then I tried to slangify "fork" and make it a verb and all I could come up with was "forking". No joke. Then I replaced "spooning" with "forking" in the same context.

"We were spooning, watching COPS when his parents walked in" became "We were forking, watching COPS when his parents walked in". So, honest story, this is why I thought "spooning" was a bad thing. I believe I finally asked Naomi or one of those lovely spooner sisters of mine what it meant and they explained it to me. Then, you know, the image of spoons in the silverware drawer finally clicked in my brain and it all finally made sense to me.

All I can do is laugh about having my sister, 10 years my junior, explain "life" to me!

Pretty "forking" funny if you ask me!

Love to you all.

1 comment:

Naomi Hanks said...

I'm glad you finally figured out spooning Chris! It would really be a shame to go through life without it!

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