What is the origin of cutlery?

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D. Maria

What is the origin of cutlery?

Spoon, fork and knife are indispensable tools in our daily life and a great help to better enjoy the meals. However, did you know that the fork appeared centuries after the knife?

This and other curiosities to read in this article.


Origin of the knife

The knife has been used since primitive times, where it was used for sinking, cutting, boning and poking.

Because of their dangerous nature and their use to attack or injure rivals, knives were objects associated with power.

A good part of history had to be passed down for knives to become table utensils. In fact, it was the Dynasty of Bourbon (France) the first to introduce the knife as a table tool, a behavior and concept adopted since then.

However, it must be said that the adaptation was not easy. At that time, knives were very sharp and large. If we think that people were not used to eating with something so sharp near their mouth and that most of the drinks contained alcohol, it is simple to imagine a potentially dangerous situation.

It was with Louis XIV that knives gained a form more similar to the physiognomy of today’s knives, allowing easier and safer use at mealtimes.

Even so, it was necessary to reach the twentieth century to have one of the innovations of greatest impact on the process of producing a knife, and that ensures a quality that until then was not possible: stainless steel knives.


Origin of the spoon

Spoons are one of the oldest tools in the world.

It is not possible to know the exact date of its invention, since it has been used by many communities around the world and it is impossible to determine an exact period of time.

However, it can be said that the earliest records of the use of spoons date back to 1000 BC, when the Egyptians used them.

The first spoons were very primitive and do not remember today’s utensils, as they did not have the handle that is so useful. That is due to the fact that the first spoons were just shells or stones used to collect water and food.

The spoons started to look like the ones we have today that were used to accrue animal bones to the shells and stones. Although very primitive, these models, easier to use, made clear the importance of the handle on the spoons. The handle underwent many modifications, being that later on it was made of ivory or wood. 

Only after the rise of the Greek Civilization and the Roman Empire did they start having bronze or silver spoons, symbols of power and wealth.

Over time, the design of spoons changed constantly, especially during the Renaissance and Baroque periods, and it was only in the 18th century that spoons acquired the shape and design that we know today.


Origin of the fork

The fork was the last implementation as far as table utensils are concerned.

Although the primitive communities used similar tools, the truth is that they were just two spikes that served to cook and serve the food.

Like spoons, the Egyptians were pioneers in their use, and the Qijia culture (2200 BC – 1600 BC), located in what is now Chinese territory, also used this type of utensil.

The fork barely reached Western society in the 11th century, but it took until the 16th century for the forks to become popular. We owe it to Catalina de Medici, who was responsible for popularizing the forks, but also the olive oil, the pasta and the oil.

The fact that it was more hygienic to eat with forks than with hands also helped to increase the popularity of forks.

These utensils were not used by the majority of the population until the Industrial Revolution, when people were actually able to buy their own cutlery.


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