I acquired my all-time favorite silverware inadvertently. I was looking for Christmas gifts in T.J. Maxx and perusing the home wares aisles. This was back in 1995, and I was shopping for my middle sister, who liked pretty things. I was contemplating an enameled, turquoise skillet when I saw the gift, a boxed set of silverware, service for eight.
It was the most amazing silverware I’d ever seen. Elegant, industrial, possibly ergonomic, with round zig-zag handles ending in a steel ball. It had tool-like qualities, a wrench or a ratchet. Most of all the silverware looked heavy. I once had a friend in college who claimed you could judge a restaurant based on the weight of their silverware. The heavier the silverware, the more exquisite the cuisine. He insisted fine dining required substantial accoutrements.
I’d never really thought much about silverware before that. As long as a fork or a spoon was handy when I needed one, the aesthetics escaped my notice. I knew some families had heirloom silverware that got passed from generation to generation, but no one ever really used it, and it tarnished and had to be polished.
After my friend added value to heavy silverware, I began to test the weight of forks, spoons, and knives I encountered in public to qualify their mass. Most were lightweight, pressed metal, stamped “China,” and usually they didn’t match. The butter knife would have a swirl in its handle, while the fork had a bare, square stem. There was no universal pattern for cheap silverware in the average restaurant, which was probably due to pieces lost accidently to the garbage every day.
I bought the heavy, wrench-like, zig-zag silverware, made by Cambridge, for my sister because I loved its design. She, on the other hand, expressed neutral enthusiasm when she opened her Christmas gift. Right away, I offered to take the set off her hands. We made some kind of trade; the details elude me. All I know is I ended up completely happy with the silverware, which was beautiful and deserved appreciation.
Guests have since complimented the Cambridge silverware, mostly for its ergonomic qualities. The zig-zag stem makes the pieces easy to grip, and the metal ball on the handle adds balance.
I also have supplemental forks because it’s nice to have matching tableware for larger parties. I own twenty-four restaurant-quality cheap metal forks that are thin and have sharp edges, which make them my favorite forks for food that needs cutting, like pancakes or enchiladas. Other tableware I adore are the kind of stainless-steel serving spoons used in cafeterias and chow halls.
Unfortunately, the Cambridge set was only service for eight. And a few pieces have disappeared over the years. I blame my children, who sometimes took spoons to school in their lunch bags that never made it back home. When I was very young, between three and four, I felt compelled to stick a fork’s handle into an electrical socket, though my mother took the fork away and said not to do that again. I eventually acquired another fork and did it anyway. Luckily, I received only a mild shock before I learned sticking silverware into sockets was a very bad idea.
The Cambridge set is still my favorite, though I need some replacement pieces. I’d actually like another forty-piece set. The problem is, I can’t find them. I can’t recall the model’s name. I’ve searched image data bases and various phrases, like “silverware little ball zig zag Cambridge,” but the results have been disappointing. If anyone reading this can point me in the right direction, I’d be eternally grateful.