It may look a little bit weird in its appearance, but the use of fork is natural habit if you are from Europe or America. People don’t know when this peculiar thing became a part of their eating utensils but it feels like it has been there forever. Famous poet Charles Simic thought it “must have crept out of hell itself”. It would be interesting if we start to trace the history of things we use daily but don’t give a thought about. And fork is one such thing.
Even though it is a permanent part of Western cutlery, fork can be considered a late arrival to the group. Knives and spoons were the most common utensils in ancient days. Although fork had arrived in a much rudimentary forms with the aforementioned utensils, it didn’t begin to be featured prominently on the dining table until much later.
Some of the earliest known specimens of table forks were in use in the Ancient Egypt. They are also found to have been used in the Qijia culture that flourished in parts of China in second millennium before Christ. The Persians in 9th century and Byzantines in 11th century are reported to have used forks.
By 15th century, forks had been used in the dining culture of several countries, albeit occasionally. It was further popularized by Catherine de Medici, who went on to marry Henry II of France and became queen of the country. She conducted many public functions and the fork was part of the dining utensils. However, those types only had two prongs, and were used primarily to pick sweets.
It took several centuries again for fork to establish itself as a permanent part of cutlery. Still, its presence was limited to upper class families in those periods. Even though forks became a part of cutlery, people were still reluctant to use it. However, as the societies developed new eating etiquette and neater eating habits were demanded in public gatherings, fork began to cement its presence. Around 18th century, the number of spikes became three and four as well.
|Types of Forks (click to enlarge)|
By 19th century, it had become so common and been used by commoners. With the invention of silver-plating techniques, different types of forks also began to appear, used to eat different delicacies. Now they are as popular, if not more popular, as knives.
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