Molly Guinness

The whole kitchen caboodle

Pretentious, effeminate, sinister and even obscene, the fork of folktale was a sign of loose morals, silly decadence or sexual deviancy. To insist on eating with a fork was a very bad sign until the 17th century. Italians were the first to relax their stance on ‘furcifers’ (fork bearers, like the devil) when they recognised that three prongs were better than one for twirling spaghetti; but even up until the end of the 19th century British sailors were still demonstrating their manliness by eating without forks.

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