Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Forks: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow


Megan Blocker
 Share

Recommended Posts

Gourmet has a cute piece this month on the history of the fork, along with some nifty, National Geographic-esque shots of forks from 100 A.D. onwards. It has this to say on the history of American fork handling:

When the gently curved four-tine fork - a more versatile alternative to straight two- and three-tine models - arrived from Europe around [1830], it was dubbed the "split spoon" and handled accordingly, switched back from left hand to right.  Today, this flatware shuttle continues to distinguish Americans from Europeans, who prefer to maintain a steady two-handed grip.

Though I was born and raised here in the States, I have always handled my fork and knife in the European manner (cutting with my left hand and eating with my right) - I think because my grandmother grew up in the Bahamas, which were then a British colony. My mother learned the practice from her, and so on...

How about you? Are you a switcher? A leftie? Rightie? Do share.

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

no switch

fork in left hand...

knife in right...

i used to switch hands,

but it got to be just too much.

always pass the duchie

'pon the left hand side.

-m

Ital, inc.

Nonsense, I have not yet begun to defile myself.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eating fresh peas with forks in France was quite the social enterprise in the late 1700's or so. The forks had two tines. Peas were the "new" thing. Forks were the new thing too. At least with peas. We wore our hair up on top of our heads like small pyramids and we wore our dresses very low cut. I was there.

Can you imagine what happens at a formal dinner with Talleyrand when your pea falls off your fork down the front of your dress? My dears. I will let your thoughts dwell on this atrocity.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eating fresh peas with forks in France was quite the social enterprise in the late 1700's or so. The forks had two tines. Peas were the "new" thing. Forks were the new thing too. At least with peas.

Reminds me of an old song my Uncle Ralph would sing:

I eat my peas with honey,

I've done it all my life.

It makes the peas taste funny,

But it keeps them on my knife.

SB :wink:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eating fresh peas with forks in France was quite the social enterprise in the late 1700's or so. The forks had two tines. Peas were the "new" thing. Forks were the new thing too. At least with peas. We wore our hair up on top of our heads like small pyramids and we wore our dresses very low cut. I was there.

Can you imagine what happens at a formal dinner with Talleyrand when your pea falls off your fork down the front of your dress? My dears. I will let your thoughts dwell on this atrocity.

Good for the waistline; bad for fabrics?

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am conflicted on this issue.

I was trained to do the old switcheroo.

Then, in the past few years spending time in Europe, I started picking up the no-switch protocol. It makes much more sense.

But I would find myself trying not to switch when in Europe and the old switching habit would pop back up. I have to really think about it to not switch.

Then there is that upside down fork thing. :wacko:

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

Link to comment
Share on other sites

And then, there are all of those other uses for forks. Whisking a couple of eggs. Cutting off a chunk of pot roast. forking up a very small patch in the garden fro planting seeds.

I consider a fork a most essential tool for food!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Though I was born and raised here in the States, I have always handled my fork and knife in the European manner (cutting with my left hand and eating with my right) - I think because my grandmother grew up in the Bahamas, which were then a British colony.  My mother learned the practice from her, and so on...

I thought the switching version that you describe was the American version...very confused, I am.

How about you?  Are you a switcher?  A leftie?  Rightie?  Do share.

Switching or not switching all depends on what I'm eating, where I'm eating, and with whom I'm eating. I usually don't switch if I have to cut, and use my left, but if no cutting is involved, I eat only with my right.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Eating fresh peas with forks in France was quite the social enterprise in the late 1700's or so. The forks had two tines. Peas were the "new" thing. Forks were the new thing too. At least with peas. We wore our hair up on top of our heads like small pyramids and we wore our dresses very low cut. I was there.

Can you imagine what happens at a formal dinner with Talleyrand when your pea falls off your fork down the front of your dress? My dears. I will let your thoughts dwell on this atrocity.

Good for the waistline; bad for fabrics?

My dear! We cared nothing about the *fabrics*! Why indeed we used to use the hem that draped from the end of our sleeves as what you now call "napkins"! So really useful, you know - for they were always falling into the soup anyway! (And really - that's what ladies maids are for, to constantly tend to our clothes hair and corsets. One has to keep these people employed somehow.)

No, my little twinkling - it was the Notorious Scandal I speak of above. I am surprised that you have not been notified of this Scandal but then there is MTV now, so I do understand.

Dinner one night. A fine turn-out. Peas for dinner -so fashionable. Forks at the table, and we did have to use them for the peas to prove just how hoity-toity we were! Our reputations were made and ruined on these things.

The evening had started badly anyway. Grievous social errors were made. We were short a man (why we needed him, I don't know but we were short him anyway) and the seating was made impossible. I was seated *immediately* next to that little slut Marie Antoinette and you know how she is - always looking for trouble.

The manservant passed the peas and served them to our plates. We giggled pleasantly with a lilting tune and reached for our forks. (Dreadful things, two-tined forks.) As we raised the first bite of ever-so-gently balanced peas to our pouting lips, Marie stuck out her elbow and purposely hit my arm. Dreadful! The peas went everywhere, including one little round hot one that spilled directly into my finely-powdered decollatage!!!!

For one split second that seemed like eternity there was utter silence at the table.

Then with a fine whoosh of his own gold-encrusted fabrics dear old Tally-Ho (I speak now of Talleyrand you understand - this is my pet name for the dear old fellow) jumped up and ran to my side and stuck his own fork directly down the front of my dress in a courageous attempt to retrieve the recalcitrant pea.

Oh! How it tickled! In my effort to not let out a raucous bray of pleasure, in attempting to keep my laughter to a lady-like little titter, I choked and my head went forward with a jerking motion. It hit Tally's wig and fell down into a dreadful mass of sticking plaster and iron pins (this is how we needed to keep it set in such fashion).

Tally gave up on the notion of using his fork and just stuck his entire fat hand right down the front of my dress. He did retrieve the pea. It was not worth eating.

That, is why I hold no great respect for neither pea nor fork. Give me a good silver spoon any day.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lefty here, but I've learned not only the switcheroo, and the death grip, but the ambidextrous food-shovel as well.

Definition of glutton? Me!

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Though I was born and raised here in the States, I have always handled my fork and knife in the European manner (cutting with my left hand and eating with my right) - I think because my grandmother grew up in the Bahamas, which were then a British colony.  My mother learned the practice from her, and so on...

I thought the switching version that you describe was the American version...very confused, I am.

Exactly! I use my knife with my left hand, and my fork with my right - therefore, no switching involved at all. Switching would mean I use one hand for both tasks, therefore requiring me to switch my fork from one hand to the other.

Edited by Megan Blocker (log)

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Caarrot Top: yuo definitely *were* there,

eating cake along with MA and other aristocrats!

Hilarious!!

After the revolution, did you find refuge in

a fork manufactory or a pea farm?

:laugh::laugh::laugh:

Me: i avoid the issue altogether by being a good Indian

eater-with-fingers (note folks NOT with hands, with fingers).

No need to switch anything, however, lefties MUST use their

right hand, as the left hand is reserved for (ahem) cleaning oneself.....

When I eat 'vilayati khana' (=foreign food) I eat one-handed

and use my right hand only. On the very very rare occasions

when I have had to do both fork and knife, then it's Euro style

with fork in left and knife in right....

Milagai

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When I attended 6th grade camp, the dinner tables were like picnic tables with bench seats. I ended up on the left end of the bench which, when you're right-handed, meant for cramped quarters due to the kid on my right. I quickly learned to use my left hand for eating and cutting and whatever have been ambi-dextrous when it comes to eating ever since.

Funny how one week on a bench seat could initiate such a lifelong change of habit...

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

– From Fox TV’s “Family Guy”

 

Tim Oliver

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually get pissed off even when thinking of the American way of switching the fork and knife around. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS? :blink::sad:

Except of course if you are eating a spaghetti squash. Then you must do whatever possible to delay the experience of putting the food in your mouth. :smile:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Me, I like the single plain wooden chopstick more than the fork.

Good for getting all the last bits of coffee out of the grinder and stirring the yogurt when you first rip the tamper-proof foil off.

Handy when the cast on your broken foot begins to itch. Shouldn't have kicked that drunken aristocrat lying in the gutter, powdered wig askew, gravy stains turning the delicate lace on her sleeve a muddy brown...

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That, is why I hold no great respect for neither pea nor fork. Give me a good silver spoon any day.

So, do tell - when eating cake, does one use a spoon, one's fingers, or the dreaded fork?

Actually (NERD ALERT!), I just finished a biography of Marie Antoinette, and she never said "Let them eat cake." It's an apocryphal saying, first attributed to two or three other, earlier aristocrats. Yup, yup. Anyhoo...

"We had dry martinis; great wing-shaped glasses of perfumed fire, tangy as the early morning air." - Elaine Dundy, The Dud Avocado

Queenie Takes Manhattan

eG Foodblogs: 2006 - 2007

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, do tell - when eating cake, does one use a spoon, one's fingers, or the dreaded fork?

D. All of the above

The are "finger cakes", usually unfrosted, meant to be eaten by hand, rather more like brownies or bar cookies, but cake is usually served with a fork. If you're having cake and ice cream it's kind of tough to get all the cake crumbs and soft ice cream at the end. You have to mash them together and pick them up between the tines of the fork, but hey, who's going to complain about eating cake and ice cream.

And, less than one-half hour ago, I ate cake with a spoon. I placed the cake in a bowl, frosting side down, poured cream over it, and let it soak in. I don't recommend doing this very often out of consideration for your arteries and waistline, but it was the last piece left of my birthday cake from last weekend.

SB :smile::raz::laugh:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I actually get pissed off even when thinking of the American way of switching the fork and knife around. WHAT IS THE PURPOSE OF THIS? :blink:  :sad:

I think Americans developed the switching-thing to help burn additional calories. By switching back and forth, one must burn at least 5 or 10 more calories than with not switching, thereby off-setting the bad effects of the super large portions served at many American restaurants.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...