Oyster Fork

by curiousmiscellany

The oldest known forks (we’re going back to Ancient Egypt here) were used as cooking utensils and typically had only two tines. It wasn’t until the 4th Century, with the Byzantine Empire (perhaps by way of the Persian Empire), that forks were used personally at the table and that the three or more tines became the norm. Thanks to a Byzantine princess who married a Venetian Doge in 1075 AC, the fork soon became widely used throughout the Italian peninsula, before traveling onto France by way of the Florentine Catherine de Medici and her court. By the 16th Century, it was popular among the noble classes and royal courts to carry a cadena, a small case for one’s own personal fork, when dining out. It still took another few centuries for the fork to reach and then catch on in Northern Europe and North America, but caught on it did…and then some. The Oyster Fork, a small utensil with three wide tines used to extract the oyster meat from its shell, is just one (though perhaps the most fanciful and the only fork allowed on the right-hand side of a table setting) of over fifteen forks now in existence. Its sisters include the Shrimp, Relish, Salad, Fish, Pastry, Dinner, Fruit and Dessert Forks, among others that, going back to their humble roots, assist more with cooking or serving than with dining (such as the Asparagus, Cheese and Cold Meat Forks).

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