Yup I decided I wanted to write about the common fork. It’s an interesting utensil to say the least and very diverse. It can have 2 prongs, 3 or even 4. You can have one with a really long handle and 2 tines so you can stab and turn meat on the BBQ without burning your fingers or you can have a 4 pronger if you’re one of those people who wants to make sure that you keep your food in one spot while it is travelling towards your mouth. I personally would rather use a spoon and knife.

I know it sounds very juvenile but you know something I’m not getting any younger and I just don’t have time to chase my food around my plate because it doesn’t want to stay on my fork. I never have to re-scoop food when I use a spoon. Yes eating spaghetti would be challenging but I don’t eat it all that often and if I feel the need for a bowl or plate of Spaghetti Bolognese then I can always use my fingers, problem solved.

For those of you who don’t know the word ‘fork’ comes from the Latin furca which means pitchfork. The ancient Greeks used the fork as a serving utensil and yes according to Wikipedia it also has an honourable mention in the Hebrew Bible, in the book of 1 Samuel 2:13. The people of the Roman Empire couldn’t decide whether to make their forks out of bronze or silver and they used the fork depending on local customs, social class and the nature of food they were eating for that meal. Those who resided in Western Europe adopted the use of the fork around the 16th century when someone decided that etiquette dictated that people use forks, even the ancients had their own Emily Post. Sounds like a good reason not to eat with a spoon or your fingers to me, not. Members of the aristocracy thought it was cool to use 2 knives at meals which is probably why they took to the use of the fork quite happily I know it would’ve gotten me to eat slower so I don’t slice anything important while trying to get food into my mouth and the knife back out again. They were however smart enough to eat soup and broth with a spoon. One point for them.

It wasn’t until around 972 that the fork began its valiant trek west to where else Western Europe. We can thank 2 adventurous women, the Empress Theophanu who married good ole Otto II in 972 and then Dogaressa Teodora Anna Dukaina Selvo who married the Doge of Venice Domenico Selvo in 1072 for driving home the point forks rule. Then of course the rest of Italy took up the cause of the fork in the 11th century after all if the Doge of Venice was eating with a fork then by god the rest of us will, Viva la fork! So in the manner of today’s rock stars the humble fork took the rest of Italy by storm. It was number 20 on the hit parade in the 14th century and by 1600 after roughly 200yrs on the charts the merchant and upper classes took up the forks cause shooting it to number one where it has remained ever since. The Italians were very protective of their forks however and refused to share so it you were invited to supper heaven help you if you didn’t bring your own utensils. Would you believe that the guests went so far as to carry their utensils out on their dinner date in a box called a cadena and to really ingrain this custom in society Catherine de’Medici, being the wonderful and caring person that she was shared this wonderful custom with the French.

The beauty of the fork and its practical usages were frowned upon as an unmanly Italian affectation by the stubborn inhabitants of northern Europe. Some writers of the Catholic Church expressly disapproved of its use, seeing it as “excessive delicacy”: “God in his wisdom provided man with natural forks – his fingers. There it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating. Wish they would’ve spent more time contemplating the usage and design of the fork and less time meddling in the lives of people….sorry I digress. The curved fork that is used in most parts of the world today was developed in Germany in the mid 18th century. The Germans sure know how to jump in with both feet when they decide they like something. Wonder how long it would’ve taken someone else to think about curving the tines. Go Germany! They sure know how to make good stuff.

We have now moved in to 18th Century where European adults are eating with the fork while their children are poking each other with theirs since that is a hell of a lot more fun when you’re 5 than using it for eating. Great Britain has now decided to give the fork the good ole college try. There is however some difference of opinion as to when forks really caught on in England, France and Sweden. Some say it was the 18th century but some say the early 17th century. I’ll leave it up to you to decide. Whichever one it is the 4 tine design reared its practical head in the early 19th.

So now that you’ve are all experts on the history of the fork I think we should contemplate the practicality of the fork. I know what you’re thinking I mean I’ve thought of this myself. What else would we use you ask well Asia has survived for thousands of years using their fingers and chopsticks. While others use bread with their fingers for scooping food off of a plate. It’s a little cleaner that using your fingers straight up that is for sure. A fork is cool but it leaks big time. Rice falls off between the tines. Soups don’t go there because there isn’t a soup thick enough to eat with a fork. If it’s thick it’s a stew and bread ends up going in the bowl to get the gravy that is left so eat with the bread and save the fork for another day. What really gets me aside from why we decided it was better to eat with a fork than a spoon is why there are so many frigging forks. I mean seriously folks do you know how many forks someone took the time over the years to make just so you don’t know which one to use when you sit down to eat.

You’re not going to believe all of this:
1. Asparagus fork
2. Beef fork – A fork used for picking up very thin slices of meat. This fork is shaped like a regular fork, but it is slightly bigger and the tines are curved outward. The curves are used for piercing the thin sliced beef.
3. Berry fork
4. Carving fork – A two-pronged fork used to hold meat steady while it is being carved. They are often sold with carving knives or slices as part of a carving set. Picture a short BBQ fork with a knife.
5. Cheese fork
6. Chip fork – yup you are reading this right. It is a 2-pronged fork, usually made out of sterile wood (though increasingly of plastic), specifically designed for the eating of chips (or french fries)
7. Cocktail fork – A small fork resembling a trident, used for spearing cocktail garnishes such as olives.
8. Cold meat fork
9. Crab fork – A short, sharp and narrow three-pronged or two-pronged fork designed to easily extract meat when consuming cooked crab.
10. Dessert fork (alternatively, pudding fork/cake fork in Great Britain)
Any of several different special types of forks designed to eat desserts, such as a pastry fork. They usually have only three tines and are smaller than standard dinner forks. The leftmost tine may be widened so as to provide an edge with which to cut (though it is never sharpened).
11. Dinner fork
12. Fish fork
13. Fondue fork – looks like a really short BBQ for but I wouldn’t want to try turning a steak with it. Now the official description is a narrow fork, usually having two tines, long shaft and an insulating handle, typically of wood, for dipping bread into a pot containing sauce
14. Fruit salad fork
15. Ice cream fork – good lord I’m a barbarian I use a spoon.
16. Knork – I want one of these and it’s just because it has a cool name. If you are wondering what it is well it’s a utensil combining the characteristics of a knife and a fork.
17. Lunch fork
18. Meat fork
19. Olive fork
20. Oyster fork
21. Pastry fork
22. Pickle fork – get this… it’s a long handled fork used for extracting pickles from a jar, or an alternative name for a ball joint separator tool used to unseat a ball joint.
23. Pie fork
24. Pitchfork
25. Relish fork
26. Salad fork – Similar to a regular fork, but may be shorter, or have one of the outer tines shaped differently. Often, a “salad fork” in the silverware service of some restaurants (especially chains) may be simply a second fork; conversely, some restaurants may omit it, offering only one fork in their service.
27. Sporf – A utensil combining characteristics of a spoon, a fork and a knife. I think someone was bored when they came up with this one.
28. Spork – A utensil combining characteristics of a spoon and a fork
29. Tea fork
30. Toasting fork – see description of BBQ fork. A fork, usually having two tines, very long metal shaft and sometimes an insulating handle, for toasting food over coals or an open flame

Then someone got really bored and came up with you guessed it novelty forks

Spaghetti fork
31. Extension Fork – A long-tined fork with a telescopic handle, allowing for its extension or contraction.
32. And finally we have the Spaghetti fork – A fork with a metal shaft loosely fitted inside a hollow plastic handle. The shaft protrudes through the top of the handle, ending in a bend that allows the metal part of the fork to be easily rotated with one hand while the other hand is holding the plastic handle. This supposedly allows spaghetti to be easily wound onto the tines. Electric variations of this fork have become more prevalent in modern times.

Now either I’m missing something or there really is a reason to have 32 different forks to jab, turn, poke, hold, cut, or dig food out of something. Personally, I think some rich person a couple hundred years ago decided that they wanted to do something different for a dinner party they were having in 2 weeks so they called the local silversmith and told them to invent an instrument to eat the berries that were for dessert at their dinner party. The silversmith who thought the rich person was an idiot since they could just eat the berries with their fingers like everyone else just took the BBQ fork he had in his shed and just made a shorter version. The rich person was happy and of course his stupid friends had to play an unnecessary game of one-upmanship which resulted in 32 kinds of fork that only rich people have or know when to use.

The lowly fork…friend or foe.

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