If you’re like me, or Nigella Lawson, chances are that your home-cooked meals are one-pot dishes where everything is in just one plate (or bowl), or two. For instance, standard Filipino home-cooked fare is a plate or bowl of rice with another of viand beside it, such as sinigang, which I love to call the Filipino minestrone. Or the famously heartwarming Italian home cooking of, say, a bowl of (Italian) minestrone or pasta, which can be considered meals in their own right for the everyday eater.
Lately, I’ve been using bowls over plates for anything, and for good reason beyond the fact that my go-to bowls are fairly large, easy to handle, and designed with modernist art: It’s easy to use just one utensil, be it a spoon or a fork.
(That’s Manang Fely’s famous garlic rice. :p)
I use just one utensil for one simple reason: to save up on the washing. You may think one utensil is small and thus the additional amount of water and soap for it is negligible. It is not, especially if the soap is not environmentally-friendly as many common manufactured dishwashing liquids are. I’ve observed people as they do the dishes and have seen that as much as half a liter of water, if not a full liter, would be spent on washing and rinsing one spoon alone.
Now, imagine that for every meal that is not formal or for guests, you use only a spoon or a fork where possible (fine, and a knife maybe, for steaks or pork chops). I don’t need to tell you the math to figure out that it could contribute a lot to minimizing your own water footprint. And, in the process, bills.
The photo above isn’t complete. Let me show you the complete one below.
As seen, my meal that day comprised of a bowl of rice and two viands. For all of them, I used just one fork. I actually told Manang to return the spoon she got as I would not be needing it. In fact, I always do this nowadays. Whenever I have sinigang and rice, I am always given a spoon, a fork, and a Chinese (soup) spoon; I immediately return both the fork and Chinese spoon, and make do with just one spoon.
Sure, when eating communally, there should be a serving utensil at the communal dish in the center; that’s basic hygiene. But when it comes to eating alone, or to your own part of the family meal, I really believe one is enough, and that is easily achievable by using a bowl rather than a flat plate. I actually find eating from bowls easier than from plates, as it’s easier to scoop out every last bit of food from the former – and it is important for me that one always does so.
Living the good life well is to live comfortably but simply. Don’t aim for the cheapest, the most basic, etc., but at the same time, there is no need for pomp or luxury. Having a smartphone to adapt to the changing times and open doors of opportunity and inspiration in front of you is one thing, but acting like a lord at home is another. In the same way, you don’t really need to eat with two or even three utensils (reasons such as the desire not to mix tastes of different foods are not acceptable for me), although definitely having one utensil (or just a pair of chopsticks – and take care to mind what they’re made of) should be the case (never mind that traditionally, Filipinos eat with their hands, and many still do today).