As a piece of cutlery or kitchenware, a fork is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines on one end. The fork, as an eating utensil, has been a feature primarily of the West, whereas in East Asia chopsticks have been more prevalent. Today, forks are increasingly available throughout East Asia. The utensil (usually metal) is used to lift food to the mouth or to hold food in place while cooking or cutting it. Food can be lifted either by spearing it on the tines, or by holding it on top of the tines, which are often curved slightly. For this latter function, in the American style of fork etiquette, the fork is held with tines curving up; however, in continental style, the fork is held with the tines curving down. A fork is also shaped in the form of a trident but curved at the joint of the handle to the points.
The word 'fork' is derived from the Latin furca, meaning "pitchfork." The ancient Greeks used the fork as a serving utensil, and it is also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, in the Book of I Samuel 2:13 ("The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant came, while the fresh flesh was boiling, with a fork of three teeth in his hand..."), however, it was not commonly used in Western Europe until the 10th century.
Bone forks had been found in the burial site of Qijia culture as well as later Chinese dynasties' tombs.
The Romans used forks and there are many examples of Roman forks on display in museums around Europe. Examples of these forks date from the 2nd century A.D.
Before the fork was introduced, Westerners were reliant on the spoon and knife as the only eating utensils. Thus, people would largely eat food with their hands, calling for a common spoon when required. Members of the aristocracy would sometimes be accustomed to manners considered more proper and hold two knives at meals and use them both to cut and transfer food to the mouth, using the spoon for soups and broth.
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