Italians on Italians
Beyond Toscano

Pointing to the origins of the fork

It’s second nature to us now, but the idea of using a fork to eat our food took a while to catch on. While most of Asia had been using chopsticks for centuries, the western world saw no need to abandon eating with their hands.

For a long time, the use of forks was reserved only for royalty, who surely sought to protect their finery by keeping food away from their fingers. Previously only used to aid with cooking, one of the first silver table forks made its appearance in the late 14th Century as part of the King of France’s banquet set.

Outside of royalty, use of a fork was seen as a sign of weakness or ostentation, with clergy believing forks were cursed by Saint Peter Daman for being a luxury that would only attract evil. 

Tuscany’s Catherine de Medici helped bring forks to popularity in Italian royalty, but it was only with the popularity of spaghetti, and the realization that eating it with your hands was quite the challenge, that finally brought forks into the mainstream in the late 18th Century.