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Dishing It Up With Sharon Insul—How Well Do You Know Your Knives?

Sharon Insul purposely mixes modern with Victorian, and many styles in between.

Posted: Monday, June 29, 2015 – 1:34 PM

The world is filled with tons of finger foods, such as sushi, pizza, soup, chili, and even fried chicken, that in no way requires a knife . But one can not live on these foods alone.

Okay—yadah yadah … I hear some of you saying, “hmm, not so bad an idea. Stop. Wait. Before you all go native on me, consider that thick juicy steak, baked ham, or even a red velvet cake that needs cutting.

Even the cavemen honed pieces of flint used for cutting. Sheesh.A spreader knife used for spreading butter, tapénade or even a schmear of cream cheese has a rounded top, but is not generally part of your everyday place setting.

Oh please—since when has that stopped some of you out there in reader land? People, with a touch of due diligence, some good old fashioned flea market foraging, and an out-of-the-box attitude, there are finds to be found. Being of the not so matchy-matchy mentality, I purposely mix modern with Victorian, and many styles in between. Hmmm, maybe that’s why I’ve never been considered a ho-hum tablescaper.

• Spreaders are generally six inches in length, but can be found even shorter.

• Table knives, (aka dinner knives) are found in all five- piece place settings. They may vary in length, width, and design while serving an all purpose use including cutting a wedge of lettuce, and are generally 9 1/4 inches in length.

• Steak knives reside in a special class, and are chosen as to the heft of the knife, the feel of the handle, and the seriousness of the serrated edge. Steak knife lengths run between 8 – 9 inches long. Some people take their steak eating seriously, and have been known to spend hundred of dollars for a set of six steak knives.

• The shape of the fish knife has a definite shape to the design, because of the specific use. The blade is wide, dull edged, and has a notch at the tip used to separate, and lift bones away from the body of the fish. The general length is approximately 8 3/4 inches.

• Let’s not ignore the luncheon knife —really—there is a luncheon knife. The lengths range from 8 – 8 3/4 inches, and are generally used with luncheon plates that are smaller than a dinner plate.

• Dessert knives, can be found in two styles. One style has a rounded tip for soft desserts, and the other has a pointed tip to cut hard desserts. Both knives have a narrow blade and measure around 8 inches in length.

• Fruit knives, can be anywhere from 6 1/2 inches to 7 plus inches in length, and are best when the blade is slightly curved, with a pointed tip, making it easy to peel and cut fresh fruit. Again a table utensil that is generally not sold with everyday sets, but are available from the inexpensive to the sterling silver versions, and sold in sets of six unless you are lucky enough to find a few strays here and there.

Sharon Insul is the former owner of the popular Beverly Hills boutique Candle light and…

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