Tuesday, March 23, 2010

PF Chang's and Levitical Guidelines for Dinnerware

We had a very nice dinner this evening to celebrate my wife's birthday. She asked to go to PF Chang's. As Chinese-American food goes in Boise, this is a better option than many (although we do have our favorites in the valley). One thing that surprised us was the new mini-dessert selection. While I am avoiding sweets for Lent, I gave myself a pass this evening... a small one. One of the things that turns me off about many restaurants is there tendency to wheel out the dessert trough at the end of the meal. You know, slices of pie that outsize any pie tin you've ever seen, sundaes that could easily reach into Monday or Tuesday. And, of course, they often have a price to match. Someone at PF Chang's caught a clue and thought up a mini-dessert—a four-bite version of their popular full-glutton desserts at $2.00. That's a perfect way to end a nice meal without needing the oompa-loompas to roll you out to the blueberry juicing room.

Another thought occurred to me as I was serving up the Wok-seared lamb entree with two spoons. I mentioned that I should have a spoon-thingee and a fork-thingee with which to serve. Gina suggested a couple of sporks. I commented that sporks were unnatural, which got me to thinking about how sporks would fit into the Levitical code. If you've spent any time reading the Torah, you've probably noticed how the line between clean and unclean animals is sometimes a bit unclear. However, some scholars have noted that there appears to be a sense that animals are being set into distinct categories: those that clearly have bovine or ungulate characteristics (split-hoofed and cud-chewing); those that fly but don't eat carrion; those that have both fins and scales. These clean animals don't straddle categories.

Which got me to thinking about the lowly spork, which clearly straddles two categories unnaturally. I am half tempted (while the better half urges restraint) to ask one of my orthodox Jewish colleagues whether a spork would be considered an unclean utensil, given that it does not clearly fit in to the category of scooping utensils or sticking utensils. I'm also reminded of another thought I had several weeks ago when viewing Lord of the Beans, a Veggie Tales take on Tolkein's classical trilogy. The fellowship of the bean encounters along its way the minions of Scaryman, which are Sporks. It seemed particularly fitting analogues for the Orcs, which were a twisted or corrupted descendant of Elves.

I didn't say this would be a particularly edifying post.
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