Did you ever notice a metallic taste when eating with a stainless-steel fork or spoon? This metal taste is usually subtle, but it becomes obvious when you eat acidic fruit, salad with lemon dressing, or delicate food. When I told a group of friends about my finding, many were skeptical. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, but since I don’t make pudding, I opted for a tuna avocado salad with lemon dressing. I prepared the salad, set it down on the table and handed out wooden forks and metal forks. Sure enough, with a side-by-side comparison, even my most skeptical friends tasted a silent metal favor in the creaminess of the avocado marinated in lemon dressing. With wooden forks, the salad tasted pure. Indeed, the metal utensils changed the flavor of an acidic salad. While we finished lunch, we wondered aloud about how many people actually taste a metal flavor when using stainless-steel utensils. A quick search online brought us to a Facebook page dedicated to this exact issue: “I hate when my spoon or fork tastes like metal.”
Don’t Kill the Fish Twice With A Metal Fork
I once saw a man eat sashimi with a fork at a Japanese restaurant. While most people picked up the delicate raw fish with wooden chopsticks, he used metal cutlery. As he speared the toro, I felt as though the blue fin tuna had been killed twice—first by the fisherman and second by the sharp stainless-steel tines. He then dipped the toro into soy sauce and wasabi before finally putting it in his mouth. With the fork stuck through the delicate fish, the taste of the fatty tuna was indelibly altered. I looked around the restaurant and thought, “In a perfect foodie world, the sushi police would miraculously appear, stop the man from forking his toro and then a kind waitress, standing right behind the man, would offer him the perfect alternative—a wooden fork.”
Perhaps because many Asians grew up eating with wooden utensils, we are more aware of the metal taste; after all, wooden utensils are a lot more popular in the East than the West. Every year I go back to Asia, and each time I find more varieties of wooden forks and spoons, crafted in different lengths and shapes and colors. Finding the perfect wooden spoon or fork is like finding the perfect pair of jeans; it requires time, energy and dedication (but luckily no diet). Many of the wooden forks I found were too flaky and broke after a few uses. And many of the wooden spoons were either too shallow to hold much food or too big to eat comfortably. My favorite wooden spoons and forks measure 7 ¾ inches, just the right length for eating. I especially like the ones with black threads wrapped tightly around the handles; not only are they beautiful, but they also prevent slipping.
Although wooden utensils are generally dishwasher safe, I recommend washing them by hand in order to prolong their lives. Wooden forks and spoons, which guarantee a pure eating experience, belong in everybody’s utensil drawer and make great gifts, even for people who seem to have everything.