When was forks first used for food?

Ferenc Nagy’s answer is not only pretty, but almost entirely correct.It is one of the usual answers to this frequently asked question. However, there are several such stories, and they always come from court life, only after that from other noble circles. So here the Kingdom of both Sicily and the Spanish Netherlands…

Strictly speaking, however, these usual answers do not answer the question at all.The question should then have been: When and in what environment were forks commonly used at the table or?expected to use it?

There are countless easy-to-find articles on the Internet, at least in English.Instead, I recommend the book by Bee Wilson, Consider the Fork: A history of how we cook and eat.It is well researched and very enjoyable to read.
Wilson, however, deals almost only with the courtly table manners, the above-case story can also be found in it, as well as others from France, for example.

The point, of course, was that no more large sharp knives were needed at the table.Too often they were used in disputes. But this also changed the way of cooking – meat had to be more tender and easier to cut, preferably served in smaller parts, e.g. roast slices. But because you also exclude cuts of meat and cooking methods, there are own steak knives in France, for example. And anyone who has ever eaten roasts in France would like to see such knives on the table more often. The associated steak forks don’t really bother…

However, this does not clarify the actual question and does not clarify it.This is only part of the history of today’s table manners. A single first time will not be precise, but it must be earlier.

This raises the question of what characteristics an eating tool actually has to have in order to be considered a fork.Presumably, the tool should not cut, but only sting, and should not really be suitable for the transport of liquid food to the mouth. The number of tines should be at least two, although later forks typically have four, less often three tines. To this day, however, we refer to the tool used to hold meat for cutting as a roast fork – and it usually has only two tines.

But which forks orwhich type of fork was perhaps used for food beforehand, i.e. before they appeared at the court table?

A few archaeological finds could help:

The “Dreizack” Poseidons orNeptune was not perceived as a fork. It was not an eating tool, but a hunting device, a three-pointed harpoon.

The earliest account of a fork I could find is in the Bible in 1.Sam 2,13, where misguided priests fetch sacrificial flesh with the fork from the heat.This fork has three tines. It is not really clear from which year the report originates. However, it is assumed that its original template was well before 400 BC. written.

Two-galvanized forks were already used by the Greeks and Romans to bring sticky, slippery or hot pieces to the mouth (examples: confectionery, fruit, meat), but mostly for presentation.Normally, as in most cultures, people ate with their hands.

It is assumed that forks at the table were “first” from about the 7th century in noble and royal houses, especially in the Levant, but also in other parts of the Middle East as far as Persia – but probably only as a cutlery!- shortly thereafter, before the year 1000 also in Constantinople/Byzantium . Probably from there also the forks, which are in at least. two Viking settlements were found, including Haithabu (now Haddeby, near Schleswig), one of about 770 -1066.

It is reported from Venice in the 11th century that a Greek princess fed the Doge with a golden fork, which caused outrage – the fork was considered the devil’s tool, but was consequently also known.

A century later, it is said that it was especially love-servants of the Venetian nobility who ate with forks.

In Switzerland there is a pit find of a meat fork, which (!) about to the transition 12./13.dated 19th century.

Charles V of France (King of 1364-1380) had forks, there is an inventory list.Whether they were used is questionable. Long later, the “Sun King” Louis XIV of France (King of 1643-1715) forbade his family to use forks. He used only a knife and his fingers to eat.

Some of this information comes from this worth reading page: The Fork in History.But I have also checked them at other, apparently independent sources.

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