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What is flatware?

Flatware is a confusing term. In countries outside of the United States, flatware refers to flat tableware like plates and dishes, but in the US, flatware refers to cutlery. Of course, sells both tableware and cutlery, but here the focus will be on American flatware.

Flatware encompasses the items you hold to prepare, serve and eat food, including forks, knives, spoons, serving utensils and multi-piece sets. The vast majority of flatware is made of stainless steel, which, as the name suggests, is highly resistant to rust and corrosion, can safely be washed in a dishwasher and doesn't add an unwanted metallic aftertaste to your meal. Polished stainless steel flatware can add an elegant accent to your dining room, but take care to choose the proper set for your needs. 20-piece flatware sets provide service for four people, and 45-piece flatware sets are suitable for parties of eight. Many sets also include more specialized implements like slotted spoons, serving spoons, butter knives and cold meat forks. Tongs are usually sold separately and are a necessity for barbecue season. There's also a variety of chopsticks in bamboo, metal, plastic and other materials for enjoying Eastern-style meals in an authentic way.

If you're throwing a party and you don't have enough flatware to accommodate all of your guests, you should pick up some disposable cutlery, which is made of plastic and is often available in bulk. Plastic flatware can also be a good choice for young children who can't handle the weight of stainless steel cutlery yet.