And it’s not just forks. Prize-winning poet Hilary Menos calls in whole canteens of cutlery. That includes asparagus tongs, teaspoons with wrythen knops, a caviar shovel and a set of butter knives. Not to mention zombies, an oyster shucker, a burr grinder, a salt sabre and a brass pendulum.
But (like all poetry) Fear of Forks is really about many other things. And if the underlying threat is death in all its forms, then the antidote — proved upon the pulse of these precise and tender poems — is love.
This week his homework is knife cuts.
He waits at the block in full whites, apron and toque,
a carrot in one hand, his new chef’s knife in the other.
Beside him, a head of celery, a bundle of leeks
and a red net of onions. I feel a mirepoix coming on.
He starts with strip cuts—pont-neuf (perfect for chips),
battonets, alumettes, juliennes. He slices, shreds,
measures and minces, until the board is covered
with stacks of sticks and a shower of chiffonade.
Then on to the cube cuts, in descending order—
carré, parmentier, macédoine, brunoise fin.
Behind him, on the beech rack, his first knife,
the Petty we had made for his tenth birthday
with an A1 steel blade, a handle of lignum vitae
and a ferrule forged from a brass threepenny bit.
He peels and turns and weighs the last of the spuds
— château (like a rugby ball), à l’anglaise (like an egg) —
slides them into a pan, wipes his knife clean
and puts it back in his standard-issue plastic mallette
with the whisks and the ladles and the spoons,
the brushes, ballers, sieves, tweezers, spatulas —
all the tools of his trade, the means
to prise open, pare, fillet, get close to the bone,
prep and plate up, working with broad strokes and fine
and with so much craft it starts to seem like art.