Friends gathered in my kitchen on a Sunday afternoon and I read them a story about a Byzantine princess excommunicated for travelling with a case full of forks. After navigating the surprisingly complicated history of the fork, we decided to leave the skewering instrument behind and use our “God-given fingers” to feast on a lunch of fresh barms, tuna salad and pickles. After the meal my guests all gave me a recipe each. 

Below is the story I read to my friends and the recipes they gave in return can be found in the recipe section of the website under “The Fork”. 

The ForkBirnbaum, C., Näher, C. and Grindell, N. (2013) Pies, pâtés, and pastries Secrets old and new of the Art of Cooking. Berlin: Sternberg Press.
When, in the eleventh century, a Byzantine princess, the prospective bride of a doge, arrived in Venice, her luggage contained something that caused quite a scandal-a case of forks! Never before had anyone seen such affectation! The church immediately identified this perverse cutlery as an instrument of the devil himself, “causing people to forget the natural use of their God-given fingers,” as one traveler from Venice excitedly put it. The princess must have wondered what all the fuss was about, since at the tables of Greek and Roman gentry forks were perfectly ordinary tools for skewering sticky sweets and fruit. Nonetheless, the church decided to excommunicate the princess. Before long, the poor woman was gripped by a terrible illness that totally destroyed her famous good looks-to the satisfaction of the prelates. 

Forks did indeed have a hard time establishing themselves. One of the fork’s most obstinate opponents, incidentally, was the most elegant man of the Baroque age Louis XIV. He categorically refused to use one, not even once in his life, although his place at the table was always set with a specimen in gold. Only five hundred years after the sad fate of the poor Byzantine princess, toward the end of the seventeenth century, did the fork finally become properly established in Europe’s courtly circles.

The publication below was handed to each guest and the texts inside informed discussions duirng the meal

A dicussion on the history of the fork. 

A lunch of fresh Barms, Tuna salad, Pickles and Crisps.

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