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Any fork can be used for eating fish, but a formal place setting typically contains a special fish fork. These are generally only used when more than one fork will be placed next to a plate, one for each course. A fish fork will usually be the center fork, between the salad fork on the left and the meat fork on the right. Which fork you choose will often depend on your personal preferences, how formal you wish your meal to be, and the design of your other flatware.
To be sure you purchase an actual fish fork and not one meant for something else, you can usually compare it to the other forks and see a definite difference. The salad fork, generally placed on the far left of the place setting, will usually have tines on both sides that are a little thicker than the middle tines. These are designed to allow you to use the edge of the fork for cutting through large pieces of a salad without the use of a knife. Meat and fish forks often look the same, without thicker tines on the sides, but the meat fork will almost always be the largest of the forks on the table. Fish forks are usually a length that falls between the salad and meat forks.
Most formal flatware sets contain several different types of utensils, including fish forks. If you want utensils that clearly belong together with the same finish, size and style, then you may wish to buy your formal flatware as a set. Formal dining utensils are generally made of either stainless steel or silver. Stainless steel is relatively maintenance-free, while silver flatware will typically need more care and occasional polishing.
If you want to buy a type of fish fork to add to a flatware set you already own, you might first try looking at stores where that brand is carried. Styles of flatware that are still being manufactured should be easy to find. If the set is no longer being made, you may wish to look through the inventory of shops that specialize in missing pieces of sets. Some stores, especially those found online, specialize in finding pieces of china and other tableware to match the ones you already have.
Flatware styles that are hard to find may require you to find a piece that complements the set without actually being a part of it. A silver fish fork, for instance, can look nice in a silver set of flatware as long as the size, shape and general lines are similar. The only time a fish fork might look out of place will typically be if there is a contrasting design on the handle, or the fork is shaped with hard lines while the other flatware has curved handles. As long as the fish fork you choose looks like it belongs with the other flatware, it should be perfectly acceptable to use it in your formal place settings when you serve fish.
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