Monday, April 11, 2016

Etiquette's Knife for Peas

The knife and fork combination utensil on left, and the spatulate knife, at right,  some say are lacking the beauty of the modern knife of sterling with which they are compared.

Eating Peas with a Knife 
There Was a Day, Long Before Sterling Silver and Etiquette Books, When the Practice Was Condoned

LONG before the days of books on etiquette and elaborate sterling silver services—in the 15th century to be exact—there was a curiously constructed knife which was recommended "for the eatinge of pease and jelleys.” It had a broad or spatulate end opposite the cutting edge and was considered excellent form in the days when the first requirement of politeness was to “smack thy lips resoundingly if thou would show due appreciation to thy host.” 

The evolution of knives, their origin as implements of the hunt to the graceful sterling dining utensils of today, shows several interesting variations. Thus, a point was reached in the development when a set of three knives set in a scabbard was a smart thing for the young man about Venice. These knives, of steel and sterling silver performed successively the three functions of slaughtering, cutting up and conveying the meat to the mouth. 

As city life developed and the diner became more remote from his food in its natural condition, the scabbard came to contain only one knife, or a knife and spoon. A 17th century novelty was the combination knife and fork which, though doubtless of enormity, must have required marvelous skill in manipulating. —Madera Tribune, 1928

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia

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