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The Rise of the Fork

Hands have always been used to eat with. As food became hotter and sloppier, knives were developed from larger cutting blades, and spoons are simple scoops. But forks weren't used in ancient eating. And when some started using them, they were considered somewhat pretentious.
In the 11th century, forks were in use in the Byzantine Empire. An illustrated manuscript from that period shows two men using two-pronged forklike instruments at a table, and St. Peter Damian, a hermit and ascetic, criticized a Byzantine-born Venetian princess for her excessive delicacy: "[S]uch was the luxury of her habits … [that] she deigned not to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth." Damian was sufficiently offended by the woman’s table manners that when she died of the plague, he regarded it as a just punishment from God for her vanity.

A detailed history of the fork can be found at Slate. Link -via Fark

(Image credit: Flickr user Caro Wallis)

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