A dinner fork is probably the most familiar eating utensil to most diners. The tines are curved for holding food in place, while the handle is long for comfortable handling. A salad fork is smaller and narrower than an average dinner fork, with three sharp tines. This design is ideal for piercing vegetables and securing salad items. A pastry or dessert fork is similar in size and design to a salad fork.
Knives are used for slicing food into smaller, bite-sized pieces. If your meal does not include meat, a simple dinner knife will suffice. The blade of a dinner knife allows the diner to cut soft foods; however, it is fairly dull. In comparison, a steak knife will have a sharp, serrated blade designed for sawing easily through steak, beef, chicken and other meats. The steak knife will often have a wooden or rubberized handle to allow for greater grip while cutting. A butter knife is often included with formal dinners. Butter knives are smaller than dinner knives with a very dull blade. Their sole purpose is to smooth and spread butter. The tip of a butter knife may be pointed or rounded, depending on the owner's preference.
Many meals begin with a warm bowl of soup and it's best to accompany this course with a soup spoon. Soup spoons are wide and deep to contain large mouthfuls of soup. Your table may also include a coffee or teaspoon designed for stirring a hot beverage. These spoons are typically small and narrow as they may also be used for scooping sugar into the cup prior to mixing. If you are planning on serving a custard, ice cream or other soft dessert, you will also need a dessert spoon. These spoons are small and pointed for scooping delicate spoonfuls of sweets.
According to the Hospitality Guild, chopsticks originated about 5,000 years ago in China. Chopsticks have traditionally been made of bamboo since it is inexpensive and readily available. Today, chopsticks are used in Japanese sushi restaurants, Chinese restaurants and many people's homes. The sticks are broad at the top and get more narrow toward the tip. Their delicate design makes them perfect for picking up small pieces of vegetables and meat.