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Culinary mysteries with no real explanation:

>What has happened to the spoon?

Enter even an upscale restaurant and you find a knife and fork at your place. A knife and fork period. No spoon.

Yes, yes. I know the server will bring you a spoon if you order soup, but what if you're the sort of person who likes to eat pasta with a spoon? Or applesauce? Or who wants to fish the ice cubes out of your beverage? You have to ask.

Let's have some respect here. After all, homo sapienswere eating with spoons (or spoon-shaped implements) long before the fork was invented. They were still eating with them in medieval France until Catherine de' Medici brought silver forks from Italy when she married Henry II. (That's what Italians say, anyway.)

Spoon lovers of the world, unite!

>Why can't I open food packages anymore?

There's a special place in hell reserved for the inventor of shrink wrap. I just spent 15 minutes trying to extricate a nice little lamb rack from a plastic shroud that even Houdini couldn't wiggle out of. The packaging didn't tear; the scissors didn't cut in close enough; the knife slipped. See the blood?

And it's not just meat try to peel the film from a carton of cottage cheese or try to open a carton of milk by making a spout from the top of it. I know about tamper-proof, I know about extending shelf life, but surely they can do better than this.

First you couldn't shake out an aspirin; now you can't extract an Oreo. It started with medicine; now it has spread to food.

>Why, why can't I get a glass of water in a restaurant without asking for it?

I have been crazy on this subject for years, but I am still mad. And, when I do get the water, why am I the only one at the table so favored, while my thirsty companions look on? Not very hospitable, I would say.

I know the glass costs money; the soap to wash the glass costs money; the ice in the glass costs money. But I am also paying money.

And here's a new twist(!):

The lemon slice that many places gratuitously insert in the water also costs money. (You know that lemon slice. It's the one I would like to remove with my spoon.)

>Why are my readers so much smarter ?than I am?

Last week's column about food in films mentioned five of my favorites ("Babette's Feast," "Big Night," "Tampopo," "Like Water for Chocolate" and "Julie & Julia"). More suggestions arrived right away.

Among them: "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman," about the chef with failing taste buds and his three marriageable daughters, and "Mostly Martha" (U.S. remake: "No Reservations"), about an obsessive chef and her young niece.

I deliberately left out the animated "Ratatouille" because there is no such thing as a cute rat as far as I am concerned, but, way back when, "Who Is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe?" was a silly delight.

And then there are the nonfood films with fabulous food scenes like Clemenza teaching Michael how to make sauce in "The Godfather" (scary), the parents meeting in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" (funny), and Albert Finney and Joyce Redman enjoying dinner and then some in "Tom Jones" (sexy).

And how did I miss "Dinner Rush" with Danny Aiello as a harassed restaurateur? Several of you suggested it, but I had never even heard of this flick.

But not to worry. It's on order. Thanks all.

Send your questions and comments about dining out to Janice Okun at janiceokun@yahoo.com. She will respond in this column, which appears every Wednesday in the Taste section of The Buffalo News.