Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Finger Bowls No More in Oregon?

The death of finger bowls was predicted very early in the 20th century, as more and more people traveled by rail and fewer people entertained with grand, multi-course meals. The use of finger bowls wouldn’t truly become uncommon until the 1960’s. Sixty years later, they are a welcome surprise at an exceptionally fine dining event. It’s too bad that very few people have the opportunity to use one, or even the knowledge of how to use them properly. 

SALEM, Ore., Feb. 19. (United Press)— The dear old finger bowl, which was to a restaurant waiter what the whisk-broom is to Pullman porter - the reminder that a generous tip is expected - is joining the Oregon elephant in blissful extinction. It is still used to some extent, but it is not so obvious as of yore.

Early in January the State Board of Health in conference assembled put its germ-killing heel down upon the post-prandial ablution. The board gave restaurateurs thirty days in which to store all finger bowls and ordered them never to allow bowls to appear on patrons' tables again.

The bowls spread germs, these guardians of the state's health maintained. Even scalding fails to kill the little fellows that know no union hours but work the clock around.

Because they were detremental to the state's health, particularly he health of those portions of the state which could afford restaurants where the finger bowl was an important adjunct to the cuisine, the bowls were ruled off the boards by the anti-germ campaigners.

Nowadays— in Oregon - upon the completion of a successful meal, one must seek the nearest sanitary drinking fountain and surreptitiously permit the limpid fluid to trickle over the fingertips in cleanly abandon. And then one uses one's handkerchief to do the drying, or waves the hands about in the air much in the manner affected by the young lady in "The Dance of the Fairies."

Some people doubt if the bowl ever will go out completely in Oregon. Some restaurateur may work up a test case, in which event the evidence introduced in court promises to be interesting. — Madeira Tribune, 1923

🍽Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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