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Debbie Sharp Loeb, teacher by training but full-time mom to a disabled son, craftsperson, bead artist, great cook, creative homemaker & terrific spotter of cool new products for everything under the sun, presents Hodgepodge: recipes, household hints, stories about children, friends & relatives, cool stuff, music, & much more.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The Evolution of Silverware

Here’s something to think about when setting your table for Thanksgiving.
The spoon was the first utensil to be used, followed by the knife. The fork as we know it today wasn’t used as an eating utensil until the 16th century, that partly in thanks to the devil. Before that it was used manly for spearing things.
The fork reminded people of the devil’s horns. Also it was the idea that God gave us hands and food, and that we should take that which was given by God with our hands to convey it to our mouths. The Catholic Church greatly resisted the introduction of the fork.
In time the fork made its way to Britain and France from Italy. If you were invited to someone’s castle for dinner you had to bring your own cutlery. This is when the custom of turning your knife blade in towards your plate got started as turning it towards your neighbor would be a sign of hostility.
John Winthrop, the famous Puritan and founder of the Massachusetts Bay colony, had the first fork positively identified to America in 1630. Only those that were well-off had even one fork, let alone a set to serve your guests – which most of the founding fathers were.
In 1859 there was a huge silver strike in Virginia City, Nevada. This made silver and silver plate cheaper. Now implements for every conceivable use were being made. In got so out of hand with thousands of pieces to silver set, that in 1926 Herbert Hoover, who was secretary of commerce, decreed that there could be no more than 55 pieces to a silver service. That made a lot of servant-less housewives happy.
So, there’s a little something to think about if you’re setting out your best china and silver for the holiday table.

(From CBS News Program – Sunday Morning, The Evolution Of Silverware, October 15, 2006)


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