I was thinking ... wouldn't we only ever put a fork or spoon in our mouths because we knew it was completely sterilized and had come out of a scalding hot, sanitizing dishwasher? Assuming your answer is a resounding YES, my question is, why wouldn't we run for our lives, if we were asked to enjoy our dinner off of utensils that the wait staff had "cleaned up" with a smelly wet rag?!
It makes my skin crawl even writing that ... I'm sorry to put the image in your head! Here's the deal, though. If our tabletops aren't being run through a sterilizing dishwasher cycle after each and every guest turnover, then the utensils we eat with have no business being placed directly on those tabletops, EVER. We all know how germs work at this point. Even though only two square centimeters of our forks actually touch the table's surface, that doesn't mean that they weren't potentially exposed to 4.2 trillion stains of illness-inducing, life-turning-upside-down (or even worse) bacteria.
The fact is, flatware should never touch a table top. Not before the meal. Not during the meal. And not after the meal ... to help protect the next guests from whatever we may have introduced to the table top.
In the last decade, an attempt to address this problem with burgeoning awareness has had restaurants tucking their flatware into napkins when they set the table for a new party. The thing is, once we sit down as guests, etiquette dictates that we all take the silverware out of the napkins to place them in our laps. So what do we do with the loose utensils at that point? Well, firstly, we feel awkward. That's a given. Then, we look around at what other people are doing, and we probably try to copy them. Whether they put the utensils on their big empty plate to slide around loudly, or prop them precariously on the bread plate to the side ... or god forbid ... put them down on a bare table surface, because there are NO PLATES on the table to start with, the fate of our basic hygienic safety, not to mention peace of mind, is left entirely up to chance.
Flatware rests are not a novelty or luxury item. They are a necessity. So why are't they on every table in every restaurant around the world? At Dining Elevated, we are nothing short of obsessed with making certain that the dining public knows this is an option and that the hospitality industry understands how easy it is to provide it. Amazingly, using cutlery rests instantly LOOKS better and FEELS better at the table. This is because they're quite lovely, yes, but more importantly, it's because our subconscious minds are the ones doing the work to keep us safe all day long. Once we give them the night off, we can actually just relax and enjoy a meal and the company with which we're sharing it!
One can find countless studies about the dangerous bacteria levels present on tabletops worldwide. Here's a recent one from the Today Show on NBC. Enjoy reading #3 on the "Six Germiest Places in Restaurants" list. And keep an eye out for the other 1-6, too! Protect yourself, your loved ones, and dine on, my friends!