4 interesting facts about coconuts – Royal Examiner
For a short time in the year 1004, it was the talk of Venice. The foreign wife of an aristocrat, offending all the guests at the wedding feast without saying a single word.
How did she do it? She ate with a fork, of course.
Maria Argyropoulina didn’t mean to offend you – forks were commonplace at our house in Constantinople. But according to Scientific American, the local clergy in Venice still took it pretty seriously, condemning its eating etiquette as an offense to God. When Maria succumbed to the plague a few years later, at least one priest said it was God’s punishment for using a fork instead of his fingers.
Even in the 11th century, forks had been around for a long time. According to Leite’s Culinaria, the ancient Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans all had forks, although they weren’t used for eating. Their long-handled versions were merely cooking utensils, used for carving meats or safely removing food from cauldrons or fires. Eating was a hands-on affair, with just a knife (which you brought yourself) to help. Small eating forks did not appear until the 7th century, when aristocrats in the Middle East and the Byzantine Empire began to use them.
After Maria Argyropoulina’s forking scandal and her untimely death, forking took a long time to take hold, and it took a few centuries before it became widespread. When Catherine de Medici married Henry II of France in 1533, she brought with her dozens of silver forks from Italy. But this bride’s forks didn’t cause a scandal – instead, French aristocrats rushed to adopt the fork themselves.
Despite the sudden spike in popularity, detractors persisted for centuries. As late as the early 1800s, some nascent United States citizens considered the fork an affectation and preferred an old-fashioned knife and spoon. But these criticisms eventually died out, and by the mid-19th century the fork had a permanent place at the table.