Sunday, June 8, 2014

God Forbid

     The other night B and I went out to dinner at a restaurant. We'd gotten a gift certificate from a friend of ours for dog sitting their little pooch -- a mutt, mostly Havanese I think.

     So we went to the restaurant. It was pretty fancy, with tablecloths on the table, a nice ambiance featuring exposed wood beams . . . and prices to match. The gift certificate was for $100, and we just about used it up.

     The food in the restaurant was pretty good -- a nicely flavored salad; really good bread; clam chowder that was just okay; and a firm piece of fish with a tasty sauce. B had a glass of wine; I just had ginger ale. But I insisted in dessert. We split a peach cobbler

     What I especially liked about the restaurant was that every time the waiter cleared your plate, he gave you a new set of utensils. I hate it when you're in a restaurant, and the waiter clears the table, but takes the dirty silverware off your dirty plate, and then places it back on the table for you to use again. Don't you?

     The waitresses at the Greek diner up on Route 6, near where I live, don't do that. And there you can get a nice meal for $12. But a lot of restaurants charging two and three times that amount do it -- presumably to save the waiters a little time and a miniscule amount of money in the dishwashing.

     So anyway, last night B and I ate dinner at home. We had leftover spinach quiche that she'd made for dinner on Thursday night.

     It's my job to set the table. I always put out a fork, a knife and a spoon -- whether we're going to need them or not.

     So we're having quiche. It's easy to cut with your fork only. We finish eating; I clear the dirty plates, and the dirty forks. And I sit back down again, just so we can talk a little . . . as we usually do after dinner. I notice B is playing with her knife and her spoon, which she hadn't used.

     Suddenly, she places them out in the center of the table. And she says, "God forbid."

     I looked at her. "What?" I said.

     "You never heard of that?" she asked. "You have clean silverware left over from dinner. You don't clear them into the sink to be washed. You leave them on the table for the next meal."

     "Okay . . ." I said. "I guess that makes sense. But where did you get 'God forbid'?"

     "I don't know. It's just an old saying," she replied. "It must come from my mother's family. She's a Methodist. You know, they don't like to see any kind of waste."

     "So the idea is, God forbid you should ask someone to wash your clean silverware? God forbid that you should waste the time and the water and the money to wash a clean knife or spoon?"

     "Yeah," she said. "That's the idea."

     And I thought . . . it must be something left over from the Depression, when a tiny amount of money actually meant something. When frugality was a virtue, not a sign of someone being too cheap, too tight, too repressed, too unsociable.

     Anyway, I appreciate the old sentiment. Good for our parents and grandparents for being so sensible, so thrifty. But I don't know if we all have to go quite that far. And please, give me a clean fork when it comes to serving up the next course.


DJan said...

My husband has trained me well: we don't ever wash anything that's not dirty. But I do think "God forbid" is a bit strong, at least the way I might use it. :-)

Douglas said...

If it was handled in some way... picked up and put down, for instance... it should be washed, just as if it was used. On the other hand, the only people at home when the utensil is handled are husband and wife then there isn't much of an issue about germs and such.

I don't recall with any certainty now but I think my mother (who went through the Depression) always washed all the utensils whether they had been actually used or not.

What bugs me at restaurants is wait-staff using a napkin to buff a fork that I pointed out had food caked on it and then just put it back down on the table. This is rare enough, usually a waitperson will just replace the item with a presumably clean one or give you a new set (wrapped in the paper napkin, of course).

Anonymous said...

God forbid! We used that in our family too ( mom was a Methodist convert to Catholicism).

I am old enough to remember the Depression, which did not end until sometime after the War. (I have been told by English friends it lasted until the early 1950s.) God forbid you should waste anything. That frugality has stuck with me. If we can't use it, it gets recycled.

Olga Hebert said...

That is a new one for me. I once had a meal at a friend's house and she wanted us all to turn our plates upside down so she could serve dessert on the clean bottoms of the plates. I thought that was just going a bit too far.

Stephen Hayes said...

I never heard this expression referring to utensils. We used to call clean silverware angels .

Linda Myers said...

How about paper napkins that haven't been used? Or salad bowls? Do they get washed or just put away?

Anonymous said...

Being a neat freak, I always wash all plates and utensils after dinner, whether or not they have been used.