Why am I so obsessed with the fork? For me, it is the most helpful ‘tool’ in the world when it comes to healthy eating. That’s the reason why I named my business Fork Story, because everyone has stories to tell about food. Here is the fork short story.
The fork or small pitchfork, from the latin forca, has had a long history of nomadic travels before arriving to our modern tables. The first discovered forks were originally found in ancient Egypt as well as in early China. Across continents, this tool was mainly used for cooking and serving since men always liked eating with fingers, a common practice remaining in the Renaissance and later at the table of the kings.
However, by the 10th century, the table fork was in common use throughout the Middle East and from then was imported to Italy where its usage was reinforced by the increasing presence of pasta in the Italian cuisine. The gradual adoption of the fork by the other European countries became final in the 18th century. Nowadays, numerous fork types are available to better fit to usage and events. Have you heard about the spork? This is a hybrid tool combining the spoon scoop with two to four fork tines. A ‘cutting’ spoon including the knife edge called splayd was created in Australia.
Believe it or not, the fork “placement” debate is still on. Etiquette varies by countries to answer the important question of the tines up or down. Since the Renaissance, the fork is placed spikes down on the European tables of the rich and wealthy to make their coat of arms engraved on the back of the handle very visible. In England, the fork was placed the tips up because the coat of arms was engraved on the front of the handle. And that’s why many centuries later, we set the table the way we do.
Finally, what about telling the waiter or your host about your meal? The resting and finishing positions of the cutlery in the plate might be of some help. Setting the knife and fork handles in a 5 and 7 o’clock position with the fork tines turned downwards on the plate indicate you are still working on. On the contrary, when the handles read the 5 o’clock position, with the fork tines turned up and the blade of the knife facing inwards, the guest is finished. Not happy about that restaurant meal, the fork can tell too. Just top your knife with the fork in a crossed position. Voilà!