It might see strange, but until modern times, rich and poor, women and men, young and old, ate pasta with their hands. This is a brief account of how we came to eat pasta with a fork.
Thousand Years Ago
One thousand years ago, Orseolo II, Doge of Venice, married the emperor of the Orient’s daughter. A very refined woman, she refused to eat with her hands and would only bring food to her mouth when using the elegant “forcella“, a two-pronged version of the modern day fork. Though she persuaded her husband to use a “forcella“, Venetian civil leaders and popular opinion still condemned eating with utensils and continued to eat with their fingers.
Five Hundred Years Later
Five hundred years later, Henri III of France followed in the footsteps of his Florentine mother, Catherine de’Medici, and attempted to introduce the fork in his country. However, his actions were viewed as odd in the eyes of the public, and further added to the suspicions that he was homosexual. This strange object, that had evolved into three-prongs since the “forcella“, was considered dangerous and evil, an unnatural prolongation of the finger, until only two centuries ago!
In Naples the art of eating maccheroni using the thumb, forefinger and middle finger of the right hand, in a manner similar to a fork, became common. The maccheroni had to be dropped into the mouth with one’s head tilted in a rather uncomfortable manner!
King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies
In the mid-eighteen hundreds, King Ferdinand II reigned over the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Though he was a very capable eater of maccheroni, he realized that neither using one’s hands nor a three-pronged fork were effective methods for eating pasta, especially for the visiting dignitaries that frequented his palace. Hands proved messy, and the three-pronged fork had sharp ends that cut one’s mouth. Against the wishes of Pucinella, Naples’ public eye, Ferdinand II requested that the court inventor create something more practical. Thus the modern four-pronged fork was developed, and though detested by Pucinella, used practically all over the Western worl.