Though forks, knives, and spoons have been around for centuries, their use has evolved over time. Cutlery has become an essential part of our dining experience and is now used for more than just eating. In this blog post, we'll explore the history of cutlery and its many uses. So whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, read on to learn more about the fascinating history of cutlery!
The first cutting tools date back to prehistoric times
One of the oldest objects in the British Museum in London is a stone cutting tool found in a primitive human settlement in Tanzania. It is thought to be 1.8 million years old. Experts have suggested that this tool may have been used as a primitive knife, to cut meat from large animals or break bones to extract marrow - an essential part of the early human diet.
The Middle Ages: the first knives are used at the tableKnives have been used as weapons, tools and cooking utensils since prehistoric times. However, it was not until fairly recent times that knives were designed specifically for use at the table. In the Middle Ages in Europe, hosts did not provide cutlery for their guests. Most people carried their own knives in sheaths attached to their belts. These knives were thin and their sharp ends were used to pierce food to bring it to the mouth to eat.
However, long after knives were adopted for the table, they continued to be used as weapons. As a result, the versatile nature of the knife continued to pose a danger during meals. However, when forks began to arrive, men realized that they were a more efficient way to pick up food. The dangerous tip of the table knife was no longer necessary.
In 1669, King Louis XIV of France decreed that all sharp knives used in the street or at the table were "illegal" and ordered that all knife tips be ground, and rounded like those used today... to reduce violence!
In the early 18th century, relatively few forks were imported into America. However, knives were always imported with increasingly rounded tips. Since Americans had very few forks for dining and no knives with pointed tips, they were forced to use spoons instead of forks. They used the spoon to steady the food while they cut, then passed the spoon to the other hand to pick up the food and eat it.
Spoons are certainly the oldest type of cutlery.
Spoons are among the oldest known eating utensils. It is not difficult to imagine that early humans started by using natural spoons like shells or stones, then moved on to spoons made of wood, animal horns and finally metal, to which they added handles over time.
One of the oldest spoons preserved in a museum is believed to be a pair made of mammoth ivory found at a Paleolithic archaeological site in Russia, discovered in the late 1940s. The spoons are believed to be about 21,000 years old.
As early as the 1st century, the Romans were making spoons with silver handles - you can see a set of silver spoons that are about 2,000 years old on your next visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The earliest forks discovered date back to the J.C.
Forks came later in the realm of tableware. The first forks are thought to date back to 350 AD in Constantinople. The ancient Egyptians and the Qijia culture in present-day China were the first to use table forks.
The fork began to be democratized among the bourgeoisie in the 11th century, in 1004 when the Greek niece of the Byzantine emperor used a gold fork at her wedding in Venice.
The fork as we know it
The shape of the fork was not new, as it had been used for ceremonial and culinary purposes since ancient Egypt. It did not become a fixture on European dining tables until 1533, when Catherine de Medici, wife of Henry II, brought it back to France after a trip to Italy and started a whole new trend. However, design flaws, such as two prongs instead of the usual three or four, made the use of these new utensils impractical. It was in Germany, in the early 1700s, that forks took a leap forward in design by adding the extra tines we are so familiar with today.
In the 1800's, almost every western household had a complete set of cutlery, forks, knives and spoons on the dinner table. As a result, many specialized cutlery items appeared, such as our dessert forks, fish forks and coffee spoons.
Cutlery has a long and textured history, from its humble origins in the hands of blacksmiths to its current role as an essential tool in the modern kitchen. Though it may seem like a simple implement, cutlery has come to reflect the changing needs and values of society throughout history.
Today, cutlery is more than just a functional tool – it is also a symbol of status and luxury. As we continue into the future, it will be interesting to see how new technologies shape the design and function of this age-old invention.
Now that you know the history of your flatware from its creation to today, what are you waiting for to sublimate your dining table with gold flatware?