Before the arrival of the fork in Europe, most people used only a knife and a spoon to facilitate eating, and they simply took large pieces of food with their hands. In some cases, wealthy people could wear special gloves before eating, which were simply thrown away after eating.
Sometimes aristocrats even used two knives, with one they cut food, and the other brought food from a plate to their mouth. We can say that one of the knives served as a fork, although, of course, it was not adapted for this.
Byzantium - the birthplace of the fork
The fork is first mentioned in the Middle East around the ninth century. Initially, the fork had only two prongs, and they were straight, so this cutlery could only be used for stringing food, it was completely impossible to scoop anything with a fork.
In the eleventh century, the fork was brought from Byzantium to Italy. There is a description of the habits of the Byzantine princess, made by St. Peter Damiani, which indicates that Maria Argira (that was the name of the princess) forced her servants-eunuchs to cut food into small pieces, after which she picked them up with a special device with two prongs and brought them to her mouth. The fork became widespread in Europe only by the fourteenth century.
Fashionable reasons for the spread of forks
And in the sixteenth, in particular, in connection with the development of fashion, she became an indispensable attribute at aristocratic meals. The fact is that by the end of the sixteenth century, the so-called mesenses had come into vogue in Spain. It is a kind of pleated collars. They were starchy and most of all resembled dishes on which the heads were laid. Their size varied, especially zealous fashionistas wore truly huge mesenteries, which made it difficult for both movement and coordination. The forks on especially long handles made it possible to bring food to the mouth as gently as possible. Interestingly, the fork was poorly accepted by the Catholic Church, as it was considered an unnecessary luxury.
The fork came to Northern Europe much later. In English, the fork was first mentioned only in 1611 in a book about Italian travels by Thomas Coriet. The fork became widespread in Britain only in the eighteenth century.
The plug was brought to Russia in 1606 by Marina Mnishek. At the wedding feast, she shocked the boyars and clergy. The very word "fork" only in the eighteenth century entered the Russian language, until that time it was called "Viltsy" or "spear".
The fork with curved teeth familiar to modern man, which allows not only stringing, but also scooping food, appeared in the eighteenth century in Germany. Around the same time, the appearance of a fork with four prongs is attributed.