Phil: So there we are in the Yumm Cafe at the Custard Factory, Birmingham about to talk book and other things, and I make a decision. Left with the responsibility of collecting the eating irons, I decided that one of the wooden forks would be a good idea. I like this kind of earthy natural stuff and for a moment and on the face of it, this was the more eco-friendly option (we’ll return to this in a moment) and I like to be a bit green when I can – public transport, reusing, recycling, that sort of thing.
What a mistake !
I dug into my lemon cheesecake and the first thought in my head was “This fork is rough.” A second later “Wow this is really lemony” replaced it, but too late. My first impressions were formed not by the fruit of the bakers art, but by the texture of the fork-stampers efforts. The fork didn’t affect the taste but as I manfully worked my way through the delicious confectionary, I looked in slight envy at Candice’s proper metal utensil.
You’re probably thinking I’m some kind of idiot for not ditching the dead tree flesh as soon as I found it less than satisfactory, but then it would have been a waste. That fork has been made out of wood from a tree that took at least ten years to grow. It would have been cut down, sawn up, the thin wooden planks stamped out in the manner of a cookie cutter (technically it’s called die-cutting but if you are reading a blog where we rattle on about cake, you’re probably more familiar with the biscuit/cookie cutter) soaked or steamed then stamped again to get the business end to a bowl shape. Next it’s packed with thousands of identical fork brothers and sisters, shipped in a container half way around the world, loaded into a lorry, then a van and finally dropped off at the cafe. Someone then releases it from the plastic bag that has hitherto been it’s home and put it into a stainless steel pot.
Finally I come along, take one bite of my cake with it and go “Oh, this fork is rough. I will discard it for the metal version I should have chosen in the first place.”. The fork will sit on the side of my plate, be taken into the kitchen and thrown in the bin, because it’s made of wood and can’t be cleaned.
Which all seems a bit unfair. Years of growing, all that effort. The very least I can do is let it have its day in the sun and finish my cheesecake. At least as it heads off in a dustcart, it can think “I did my duty and lived as full a life as a fork can expect.”
But it still gets thrown away. I mean, on the face of it the wooden utensil is the “green” option but when you think about it, it’s not really.
What’s this got to do with writing a book ? Not much but at least you know how to avoid cheesecake disappointment and because of this, I’m sure your time reading this hasn’t been wasted.