Sunday, September 18, 2016

"New-Fangled" Forks

I was so upset about everyone forgetting my birthday that I had lost my appetite, but Joss dug right in to his supper. He located a piece of beef in the pile of salmagundi on his plate, speared it with the tip of his knife, and brought it to his mouth. This was his habitual way of eating, despite Prissy constantly urging him to use the new-fangled three-pronged forks she set on the table.  - A Buss from Lafayette ©2016 by Dorothea Jensen


"One of the last places the fork caught on in the Western world was colonial America. In fact, forks weren't even commonly used until the time of the Civil War; until then, people just at with knives and their fingers...And as late as 1864, one etiquette manual complained that 'many persons hold forks awkwardly, as if not accustomed to them.' ' - The Origin of the Fork, Uncle John's All-Purpose Extra Strength Bathroom Reader

I figured that Priscilla, living and teaching in Boston, would have adopted the fashion of forks earlier than folks in rural New Hampshire.


Here is a serving fork from Monadnock History and Culture Center in Peterborough, NH. The re-enactor there said that in the 1820s and 1830s, forks were used for serving but not for eating.

Instead, diners would put food on the flat blade of their knives and carry it to their mouths that way.

Here is a knife from that era, also at the Monadnock Center for History and Culture.