Oct 6, 2020
Among the thousand lies that are told about the ancient Romans, there is the rumor that they did not use forks. Apart from the fact that many have been found, the use of the “fuscinula” was widespread at the table in Rome, curiously among the less well-to-do classes.
Luxury banquets did not need it: the food was chopped up by the servants, who arranged the small pieces on the plates from which the reclining diners served themselves with one hand. The hands were then washed immediately in special basins of perfumed water, or rubbed by the servants with damp cloths.
Since washing hands was not an easy operation in less luxurious homes or tabernae, it was preferred to avoid the annoyance of greasy fingers and use a fork. On the other hand, the contemporary Etruscans of every social class, considered by the Romans as refiners, used it commonly. Even the so-called barbarians, like the Lombards, ate with their beautiful forks in Milan.
As documentation I put a painting that portrays King Rotari, born in Brescia and died in Monza in 652, an authentic lumbard and king of Italy, while having lunch with a friend using a skillful fork and knife. It is evident that it was not used only for scaling meat (at least not only) but to bring food to the mouth, like today. Like other reasonable things, the use of the fork was opposed by the church, so much so that it almost disappeared from use at the table. In France it was reintroduced by Catherine de Medici, who had brought the services from home.