Sunday, November 4, 2018

Chaucer and “Fingers of Courtesy”

From Chaucer’s “Parliament of Fowls,” circa 1381-1382 –In the 14th century, forks were not in use . At the time, those who exhibited good manners at the table, ate with the thumb and first two fingers. These were called, “the fingers of courtesy.”

Table Manners at the Time of Chaucer 
were of a Decidedly Primitive Character

Table manners at the time of Chaucer were described in a lecture by Kenneth Base, author and poet, in “A Holiday in London in the Days of Chaucer.” Etiquette in those days (the latter half of the fourteenth century) demanded that meat should be held between two fingers and a thumb of the left hand, and no more, if one was to be received in polite society. After soup, pike roasted in claret and favored with strange and varied spices was eaten. Then followed partridge, roasted with saffron, cloves and ginger, and jam tarts and jelly. It was the custom to change the cloth with the courses, and one read of one feast in which each new cloth was scented with a perfume appropriate to the dish. In Chaucer's day, the bath in construction was not unlike a miniature pulpit, and a bouquet of sweet scented herbs was hung over it for the stream to draw out their refreshing qualities. -Healdsburg Enterprise, 1922

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

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