Did you know that the common fork was once considered evil and a tool of the devil? It seems hard to believe today, but in the middle ages the Europeans took an especially harsh dislike of this new wonder tool for the dinner table.
The fork had a fairly humble beginning. It was used early on by the ancient Greeks, Not for eating, but for holding the food still from wiggling around. It wasn’t until the 7th century AD in the Middle East that the fork as we know it today began being used as a way to convey food from the plate to the mouth. This fork wasn’t the kind we use today however, it was straight, dead straight from tip to tip.
How did forks become evil?
The year is 1005 AD, enter a Byzantine-born princess. This princess was wed to doge of Venice. Not much is out of the ordinary with this arrangement, except for the way she ate. The princess brought with her some golden forks with which she ate. The Italians were not impresses at all. Their belief was that food was a gift from God, and by using forks to bring it to the mouth implied that Gods gift was unfit to be touched by human hands.
Unfortunately for the fork things were about to get worse. Not only had this Byzantine princess implied that the gift of food from God was unfit for her hands, she would soon die from the plague. Why was this bad for the fork? The Venice clergymen declared it was her use of the two pronged, or two horned utensil of vanity prompted the punishment from God Himself. Word of the evil fork spread throughout Europe. The French believed it was too effeminate to use, while the English took the line of the Italians. The fork was evil and a product of the devil for centuries.
It took another 500 years before the Italians accepted that the fork was not evil. In England the fork eventually became fashionable during the 1600’s. It wasn’t until the 1700’s that the French accepted the fork as it made it easier to eat peas.
Author Sarah D. Coffin has written a book that explains this exceptionally well, as well as many other fascinating facets about food and dining. You can buy the book called Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005 from Amazon here or from the link below.