Massachusetts governor demonstrates the fork

A possibly apocryphal account has it that a Byzantine (Turkish) princess married a Venetian nobleman, bringing with her her land’s custom of eating with a fork. That habit horrified the Venetian court, who told her using utensils were an affront to God, who created humans to eat with fingers. Regardless of its veracity, it remains one of the earliest mentions of the utensil in Western lore. Centuries later it caught on as a method to keep food cleaner, without having dirty fingers touch it. As for how it came to be in the States, that’s a story in itself.

On this day, June 25, in 1630, Governor Winthrop of Massachusetts introduced the first and only fork in colonial America. The colonists still considered the utensil sacrilegious, preferring to use wooden spoons, knives and most of all their fingers.

England got the fork decades most of the rest of Europe did, and only through a decree by King Charles sanctioning their use. British author Thomas Coryat first began promoting the use of spoons through his book “Coryat’s Curdities Hastily gobbled up in Five Months Travels in France, Savoy, Italy, &c.” Still, the fork had a tough time of being accepted among men, among whom “Furcifer,” meaning fork-bearer, was a standard insult to mean weak and feminine.