Such a common item, yet the story behind it is fascinating !
No Ariel, this is not for combing your hair !
Are you ready to travel back in time and learn the origins of the fork ? Let’s go !
Everything began in Constantinople (today known as Istanbul), around 350, in the heart of the byzantine empire, where people used a two-tide fork to bring fruits or other small bites to their mouths.
An antique byzantine fork
About 700 years later, the same type of fork arrived in Italy, after Theodora Doukaina Selvo, the second daughter of Byzantine emperor Constantine X Dukas, became the wife of the Doge of Venice.
Back then, the Italian only used it to eat pasta, and gave it the name of « forchetta » (« little fork » in Italian).
Catherine de’ Medici
Quickly after, its usage became a habit around Europe. In France, it is Catherine de’ Medici, Queen of France after marriage to Henri II, who introduced a golden fork to the Court of France in 1553.
Before the fork in France : a knife and a plate
But it took quite some time to be used in France. Religious leaders saw it as a dangerous item, « an instrument of the devil ». Instead, it was common at that time for the French to use a long knife and hands to eat their food.
The King Louis XIV
In the 17th century, the King of France Louis XIV presented all kinds of beautiful pieces of cutlery on his dinner table at Versailles, but instead of using forks, he still preferred to use his fingers to eat.
Lunch at Versailles
This is only during the Age of Enlightenment (18th century) that the fork became widely accepted in France, with four tides instead of two.
By the way, did you know that in France, forks are laid on the table with their tides facing down ? This is because the noble families of the 18th century engraved their coats of arms on their back, to show their guests their hospitality.
Who would have expected such an interesting story behind such a common item ? Follow our account to keep learning etiquette and wine culture every week !
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