Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Of Etiquette, Olives and Sugar Tongs

In the 1600’s, fork and other flatware usage, could show “the difference between a man of the world,” and a man who did not have “the tune of the time.” A sterling combination fork and spoon for serving olives, circa 1880’s, by Gorham. Over the years, forks and combination utensils were only designed for the serving of olives. They were never designed for the eating of olives. 

And the Fork’s Acceptance 
in 17th Century Europe

“It is a piece of refined coarseness to employ the fingers instead of the fork to effect certain operations at the dinner table, and on some other similar occasions. To know how and when to follow the fashion of Eden, and when that of more civilized life, is one of the many points which distinguish a gentleman from one not a gentleman; or rather, in this case, which shows the difference between a man of the world, and one who has not ‘the tune of the time.’ 

Cardinal Richelieu detected an adventurer who passed himself off for a nobleman, by his helping himself to olives with a fork. He might have applied the test to a vast many other things. Yet, on the other hand, a gentleman would lose his reputation, if he were to take up a piece of sugar with his fingers and not with the sugar-tongs.” – The Laws of Etiquette; or, Short Rules and Reflections for Conduct in Society, 1836 

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

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