Day 6: Rethink a dining utensil
The history of the common fork is surprisingly intriguing.
Used in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome as tools used for cooking and carving meats from a cauldron or fire, forks didn’t make the leap to the kitchen table until as late as the 7th century in noble courts in the Middle East and Byzantine Empire. And even then, they weren’t seen even among wealthy households for another 300 years.
Prior to their emergence on the dining scene, people primarily employed the use of spoons and knifes.
Chad Ward of the food blog Leite’s Culinaria writes: “Imagine the astonishment then when in 1004 Maria Argyropoulina, Greek niece of Byzantine Emperor Basil II, showed up in Venice for her marriage to Giovanni, son of the Pietro Orseolo II, the Doge of Venice, with a case of golden forks - and then proceeded to use them at the wedding feast.”
Ward says that when Argyropoulina died of the plague two years later, Saint Peter Damian said that it was God’s punishment for Argyropoulina choosing to impale her food on a “certain golden instrument” rather than touching the food with her fingers.
It wasn’t until the 1400s when forks began appearing in cookbooks in Italy that they began to catch on in central Europe. But it took a traveler named Thomas Coryate for the fork to grow in popularity even in England.
Upon finishing a journey through France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany, Coryate wrote a book in 1608 called Coryates Crudites that explained the use and growth of the dining utensil in other parts of the world, thereupon sending the instrument into widespread use.
With that said, it appears the common fork experienced a slow growth in popularity as the result of, well, no one ever realizing it was actually possible to eat that way.
For day six of my project, I have decided to once again send dining utensils for a loop by turning a fork and knife backwards.
- Sat down, took a sip from my glass placed in front of my plate and moved it further off to my right.
- Mixed the noodles and sauce around, while holding the knife in my right hand and the fork in my left.
- Dove into the pasta believing it wouldn’t actually be difficult to eat with the blunt end of the utensils, but after spending roughly 20 seconds attempting to pick up my first piece of pasta, I fully understood the task ahead of me.
- After getting the first piece in, I struggled with two more pieces before throwing the end of my knife through one of the pieces of round pasta. I believe I repeated this task seven times throughout the whole of the meal.
- After three minutes with only actually consuming around six pieces of pasta, I realized that I could hold my knife and fork like chopsticks, but I quickly separated the utensils upon deciding that that would be cheating on the task.
- I spoke to my roommate, Franz, during the first 8 minutes of the meal. I remember him asking me what I thought of the iPhone application Instagram, to which I responded that I liked it.
- I then splattered a small portion of sauce on to the mat on the table toward the upper-right corner of my plate. I dabbed the sauce with my right index finger and wiped it on my plate.
- Franz then asked me what time the Harris Teater grocery story was opened until. I told him that I had only been there twice and wasn’t sure.
- After he left, I spoke to myself three times exclaiming that I thought the task was difficult.
- At the end of the dinner, I said, “I’m never eating like that again.”
What actually happened on Day 6? Find out here.
- From the moment I began boiling the pasta to the end of the meal, I believe the entire experience lasted 1:08 minutes.
- I believe the meal itself lasted for 23 minutes.
How long did it take? Find out here.
(Note: The yellow stopwatch represents cooking time + meal. The black stopwatch only recorded the meal.)