Let’s take a step back from everything we are accustomed to and travel back to the 10th Century when forks first came to be.
As the story goes, the wife of Roman Emperor Otto II, Theophanu Byzantine introduced this tool to the Roman Empire and by the 14th Century merchants were using and trading this handy utensil as an every meal staple to be paired with a knife throughout Italy. She was noted to have used a golden fork to eat at her wedding to the Roman Emperor.
Despite the rapid surge in fork usage, British men mocked the utensil calling it a “Feminine Affectation of Italians”.
Then this snowballed into a larger religious conspiracy-the thought was that people were given ‘natural forks’ from God (fingers). During this time eating with hands, and knives was most common calling forks an insult to God. So naturally, after God into the argument, people were confused as to whether or not to use forks. Then when Theophanu Byzantine died from the plague reforming Benedictine monk Saint Peter Damian said that her death was brought on by her sinful behavior, and vanity. Yes, we’re talking about using forks.
Still, vain or not the use of forks spread throughout Europe, and forks continued to be used by monarchs, Catherine de Medici had even brought a silver set of forks from Italy to France which only boosted the exposure to forks.
The Catholic church still wasn’t on board with the whole fork thing and they pushed back explaining that this was pure vanity, and sinful. Having such an excessive delicacy was seen to be outrageous.
By the mid-1800’s the fork was widely used in the American colonies and the population had learned to use their left hand in eating with silverware. Before this, the normal eating process was to spear food and use teeth to tear it into pieces so that people would not have to use a knife which made it easy to avoid switching utensils.
Some, like Admiral Nelson, opted for a combination utensil that acted as a holding device, fork, and knife. Nelson did however only have one arm…