Yogi Berra once said, "When you come to a fork in the road, take it." And like the quote itself, the brief history of the fork is almost just as bizarre.
The word "fork" actually comes from the Latin word furca, which means "pitchfork." And though some of the earliest records of using forks as part of the cooking and dining process, the historical use of forks isn't as dated as the use of knives and spoons.
According to a Slate article titled "The Rise of the Fork," the fork is the latecomer to the table. Knives are descendants of old axes, one of the first human tools. The word for "spoon" in both Latin and Greek is derived from their word for "snail shell." They likely took many forms in their earliest renditions so long as they could scoop up liquids.
But the fork? Well, it's the newbie. Though the trident shape of the fork has been around for much longer then the fork itself, even the Poseidon-loving Greeks didn't use forks at the table.
One of the earliest dinner forks is attributed to the city of Constantinople in 400 A.D., and by the Seventh Century, small forks were becoming more and more popular in Middle Eastern courts. One of those forks eventually made it to Italy, where a Byzantine princess used it while dining. The church disapproved and punished her because they saw the fork as a challenge to god's intentions for fingers.
Nearly 300 years later, the fork appeared again, gaining slow acceptance in France when Catherine de Medici brought it from Italy during her voyage to marry Henry II. These forks were almost all two-pronged.
In the 1800s, the famous French gastronome, Brillat Savarin, cultivated a culture of dining that was centered around the rules of the table. From proper dining room temperatures to a move toward cleanliness and manners, flatware was here to stay.
Eventually, the invention of silver plating techniques brought an onslaught of utensil types, especially forks. Salad forks, pastry forks, fish forks, oyster forks, lobster forks, and other varieties were produced.
Today, we have many different ways to manufacture flatware, and we have many different styles from which to choose. In restaurants, fork selections can say as much about the operation as the menu itself. So how does a modern foodservice operation go about selecting flatware?
Find out the basics of selecting flatware for a modern foodservice operation. Read our free Flatware Selection Tips today.