What Is a Marrow Spoon?

I managed to eat at the original M Wells in Queens in the year or so that it was open and the most memorable thing from that dinner was their marrow and escargot dish. It was a full on bone cracked in half so you could get at the marrow with little escargots dotting it, so delicious, though I don’t recall any particularly special utensils with it.

However, if you were a hostess in the 17th or 18th century and you didn’t want your guests sucking on bones at the dinner table, you would have special suuuuuuuper skinny spoons called marrow spoons to allow diners to get inside bones and scoop out all that delicious marrow.

They seem to have fallen out of fashion by the Victorian period or later, Emily Post doesn’t mention them at all.

Luckily for us, Martha Stewart, in all her glory, has a video tutorial of how to use them: http://www.marthastewart.com/916502/how-use-18th-century-marrow-spoons

So tell me, have you eaten marrow? Do you like it? Did you use a marrow spoon?

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What Is An Epergne?

First you have to have a table big enough to hold this thing!

First you have to have a table big enough to hold this thing!

Welcome back! We hope you had a safe, happy, and polite holiday! Please send us any etiquette questions that cropped up while you were visiting family and having big dinners! Also, wedding season is coming up, so get your questions in now! Send them to: info@uncommon-courtesy.com

 

This is really just a fun bit of household decoration trivia, but it will help you impress your friends and win at Jeopardy, so!

An epergne is simply an object used as a centerpiece on a dining table. Usually it has a slender base with a bowl or bowls coming off of it to display fruits, candies, or flowers. Traditionally made of silver they can be extremely ornate or more simple.

Epergnes first appeared in the early 1700s and in its early incarnations was really a way to serve expensive little delicacies to the whole table rather than plating them individually and risk them being wasted if the diner chose not to eat them. So people could serve themselves nuts and candies and such and the ones that weren’t taken from the epergne could be saved for later.

By the Victorian era, the style of dining had changed. In the earlier period, all of the food for the meal was set out on the table from the beginning. The Victorian’s changed to service a la russe where each course is brought in individually, so the role of the epergne changed to be a more decorative object than a real serving device.

Grape Eating Etiquette

Okay, so this is a rather fussy bit of etiquette, but when you are eating grapes in company (do whatever the hell you want when you are home alone, I always say), it is better to remove a clump of grapes from the communal bunch and eat those rather than picking the grapes one by one off the bunch. It’s one of those things that just looks neater.

But getting a clump of grapes off the bunch can be so hard, you say. That’s true, but that’s why we have sharp things such as scissors and knives. If you are really fancy, you can buy special grape scissors for just this purpose.

I should also note that if you are eating grapes with seeds, you should put the whole thing in your mouth, eat the grape-y part, and then extract the seed with your thumb and first finger and put it on your plate. No spitting!