Clean silver

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A comparison of silverware storage behaviors between a small Indian restaurant in Yangon that shrink-wraps all of its cutlery and a cafeteria in a Bangkok mall that lets the diners play along by immersing their silver (or, in the case of chopsticks, their melamine) into scalding water. Does this reflect differences in conceptions of “clean”, the disparity in available resources, or a consideration of scale/style of the dining establishment? Which method your cultural/ecological values have you prefer, and why?

For the hypochondriacal amongst you, the Bangkok mall solution may be more satisfying, giving you direct authority over the cleanliness of your silverware. Does this have the risk of implying that the unwashed silverware sitting in the stainless steel trays are dirty unless you douse them in water, though?

The Indian restaurant cleaning solution, while admittedly happening out of sight, leaves no room for “diner error” – these forks and spoons are (by someone’s standards, at least) clean. There is also the ritual aspect of servers who, upon depositing the food at your table, go through the very deliberate motion of “unsheathing” the silverware from their plastic wrappers and placing them upon your empty plate. At the Indian restaurant, also, eaters using hands and those choosing the plastic-sheathed silverware were split about half and half, from my corner-of-the-eyes poll of fellow diners.

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