However, many people use chopsticks as cutlery ( East Asia ). In most cultures around the world, cutlery is completely or partially avoided and people eat with the fingers , usually according to strict rules. In Islamic culture and among followers of Hinduism , only the right hand may be used to take in food, since the left hand cleanses the body and is therefore considered unclean.
The most universal table utensil is the spoon, which is used both in cultures that use knives and forks or chopsticks, as well as in some regions in which the spoon is the only cutlery available besides the fingers.
Types of cutlery and their history
The spoon (from Old High German laffan , Middle High German laffen : slurp , lick) is the most primitive of the tools that are and were used for eating and occasionally also for drinking. It is simply modeled on the hand that draws. A spoon consists of two parts, the handle and the spoon ( spoon actually means the lip ), or spoon bowl - the cavity for the liquid, which is often made from a different material and using a different technique than the handle.
In many places the spoon was the only eating tool alongside the knife , which was often only used for cutting, and was usually made of wood . Spoons were already recovered from Paleolithic sites - carved out of bone or wood. There are numerous finds of clay spoons from the Neolithic Age, e.g. B. from areas of the funnel cup and the Münchshöfen culture . In ancient Rome there were two types of spoons, the larger ligula and the smaller cochlear . The latter had a needle-shaped handle, which also had a skewer function when eating snails and mussels, the function of today's fork.
In Germany that emerged Löffelmacherei as a branch of the metalworking industry in the 15th century near iron ore and - smelting . It had its heyday in the 17th and 18th centuries. Originally, the spoons were raw forged from one piece and then machined with a file, wherein a Spoonmaker could produce 30 to 40 pieces per day. In the early 18th century, spoons could already be cut from sheet metal and cold formed, which doubled the production speed. Finally, plate iron was forged, a worker completed the shape, and then the spoons were tinned and polished.
The cutlery in today's form of a uniformly designed cutlery set is a relatively late appearance; it did not establish itself on the bourgeois table until the 19th century. Inventory sources from the 18th century list silver spoons and, separately, pairs of knives and forks. The bowl of the spoon was still round in the 16th century, and the short, stick-shaped handle was grasped with the whole fist. Later, the handle becomes flatter and longer, the spoon more oval. This development can be observed earlier with silver spoons than with the tin spoon, which was made with round spoons until the 19th century.
Artisanal spoon makers produced registered spoons, provided with decorations and inscriptions, mainly as valuable gifts and family heirlooms. Until the modern age it remained a very valuable property and was therefore inherited (whoever “gives up the spoon” dies). In some parts of Europe it is still common today for the godfather to give a child their first silver spoon.
For the consumption of caviar , boiled egg and other foods rich in sulfur , gold-plated spoons or spoons made of horn , bone or mother-of-pearl were used, which cannot affect the taste and - as is often observed when using silver spoons - are not discolored by the sulfur. Salt spoons are either not made of silver or at least the spoon is gold-plated. This problem does not occur with today's stainless steel spoons .
Ceramic or porcelain spoons are particularly widespread in Asia. These are mostly flattened at the bottom, which was originally a result of the firing process.
The historical spoon knights used a spoon as a coat of arms.
List of spoon types
- Apostle spoon (usually silver or silver-plated spoon with an apostle figure or similar at the end of the handle)
- Butter spoon - the front edge with a serrated profile to create a grooved lock of butter, even from relatively firm, cold butter
- Cocktail spoon or lemonade spoon (long-handled spoon for stirring mixed drinks and spooning out small pieces of fruit etc. with tall, slim glasses, which is mainly used for cocktails)
- Dessert spoon (compote spoon, small tablespoon)
- Egg spoon made of horn or bone or gold-plated, as silver would quickly tarnish with black sulfide (more teardrop-shaped spoon)
- Ice cream spoon (with an almost straight front edge to scrape off melting ice cream while eating)
- Yoghurt spoon (with a particularly long handle; corresponds roughly to the cocktail spoon)
- Espresso / mocha spoon (even more delicate than the coffee or teaspoon)
- Vegetable spoon (serving cutlery)
- Glass spoon (spoon with a narrow spoon and long handle; part of baby cutlery)
- Gourmet spoon (for spooning out the sauce at the end of the meal; a spoon with a flat, asymmetrical spoon)
- Grapefruit spoon (spoon with small saw teeth for eating halved grapefruit)
- Honey spoon (with rim holder for hanging in the honey jar; often made of olive wood)
- Honey spoon (without the typical hollow), also called honey lifter or honey receiver (mostly made of turned wood, sometimes also in spiral form made of metal or plastic)
- Coffee spoon (smaller teaspoon)
- Potato spoon (serving cutlery)
- Caviar spoon (gold-plated or made of horn, formerly made of tortoiseshell )
- Kiwi spoon (short, sharp points on one side of the bowl)
- Jam spoon (with rim holder)
- Tasting spoon (in gastronomy)
- Cross spoon (spoon with a cross spoon for feeding a baby)
- Cream spoon (with a rounder bowl and smaller than a tablespoon)
- Salad spoon (from the two-piece salad servers)
- Salt, pepper and spice spoons (for spice bowls and for salination )
- Sauce spoon (particularly deep drop shape, for serving sauces, next to the ladle, which is more popular today)
- Spaghetti spoon, perforated and with rounded prongs that protrude from the edge and hook well with the spaghetti
- Soup spoon (large tablespoon)
- Soup cup spoon (round flat spoon for the soup cup)
- Tuna spoon, also tuna spoon, T (h) scoop or canned fish spoon (medium-sized spoon with slotted or perforated spoon, for removing canned fish or seafood pickled in oil or water or brine )
- Sugar spoon (scoop-shaped, with a flat front edge, often worked as a shell)
The knife - initially made of stone - is probably as old as the spoon, but not so much as a eating tool, but rather to be chopped into bite-sized portions beforehand, which were then eaten with the fingers. The knife, like the spoon, was a personal item; Both were carried together in a leather sheath, the cutlery , on the belt. In ancient Rome, the knife came from around 90 BC. In fashion as a dining utensil at the table.
In total, German blade manufacturers today produce around 2000 different blade shapes for the world market. The current form of dessert knives and table knives shows a tendency towards " civilization ": The front end of the cutting edge (the 'tip') is rounded and the cutting edge itself can be designed with a small toothing (saw or wave). Various special knives are also used, such as steak knives for roasted meat, which are usually a bit sharper than the usual cutlery knives. There are special knives for fish , without teeth and with a blunt “cutting edge”. When the cutlery is placed correctly at the table, the cutting edge always points towards the plate and never away from the plate. Even after eating, the cutting edge points towards the eater and never towards the person opposite - in the past, this was interpreted as a hostile act.
List of knife types
- Table knife (largest dining knife)
- Dinner knife (intermediate size, common since World War II)
- Dessert knife (smaller dining knife)
- The steak knife is a cutlery knife with a narrow, slightly curved and particularly sharp blade, usually 12 cm long, occasionally with a saw or serrated edge. This means that the tender steak meat is not torn when minced at the table, but cut. Today, the steak knife is one of the few place setting knives with a pointed blade.
- Fruit knife (much smaller than dessert knife)
- Food pusher (replacement knife in baby cutlery)
- Carving knife (much larger than a table knife, from the two-piece meat serving set)
- Cake knife (for cutting and serving)
- A butter spreader or small bread knife has a blade that is optimally designed for dividing and spreading butter . The steel blade is wide, stable, not too long and slender. With better designs, it can be slightly curved upwards. The cutting edge is smooth, without a saw cut and only moderately sharp. The tip is rounded and can be a little wider in high-quality models. The handle can be made of various materials such as wood , metal or plastics , with or without decoration; Natural materials such as mother-of-pearl or ivory were also used in historical knives . It is long and strong and thus allows safe guidance with the whole hand . Handle and blade are usually firmly connected to one another. In contrast to this, a butter knife is a serving set .
- A fish knife is a knife with a wide blade without a cutting edge / bevel. The blunt blade allows you to cut a fish without cutting bones, the width allows the fish fillet to be lifted better with the wide fish fork . Alternatively, the gourmet spoon can act as a fish knife. When fish cutlery was not available, two forks used to be set. See also the section on fish cutlery .
Small, two-, three- or four-pronged forks are known in Europe from Roman times, for example from a treasure find in Vienne . From Byzantium , they probably came to late renaissance Italy through marriage between royal houses .
In the Bible (1. Sam. 2,13) it is mentioned how priests in the act of sacrifice violated the regulations and used a fork with three prongs to get sacrificial meat from the cauldron. You have to assume that this was a kind of carving fork. According to sources, similar forks were also used by the Romans in ancient times to skewer meat. Chopsticks and five-pronged forks were only used for serving; mostly one ate with the hands. From Byzantium , the former Eastern Roman Empire , the fork came to the Normans in the early Middle Ages , who had intensive trade relations with the Byzantines. Finds of two- and three-pronged meat forks from Haithabu and Birka prove this . Large Viking forks were more like kitchen tools; they were also constructed differently because they had lateral prongs. The first report on forks in Central Europe comes from the 11th century from the court of Doge Orseolo II in Venice. The Doctor of the Church Petrus Damiani reported that a princess from Byzantium had introduced them. He condemned this new fashion as "sinful effeminacy".
In the Middle Ages, the Italian nobility initially used small two-pronged forks to avoid getting their hands dirty when eating fruit. Around the middle of the 14th century, the household inventory of the King of France names twelve forks, at the same time Duke Charles of Savoy owned only one fork. It is documented that King Matthias Corvinus ate with his fingers in the 15th century, as did Anna of Austria and her son Louis XIV of France. Here the fork caught on with the nobility later than in Italy.
Around 1600 a chronicler reported from a meal in France: “While I was eating a juicy roast, I noticed four gentlemen who did not even touch the meat with their fingers. They raised forks to their mouths and leaned low over their plates. Since I had no experience, I did not dare to imitate them and only ate with my knife. "
In the Middle Ages , the three-pronged fork was rejected by the Catholic Church for a long time because it was viewed as a symbol of the devil . However, this representation could be considered an invention, as there are no contemporary sources that would confirm this. In addition, she was generally considered effeminate and graceful. Luther said in 1518: “God protect me from little forks.” Erasmus von Rotterdam specified a little later: “What is served you have to take with three fingers or with pieces of bread.” Hildegard von Bingen forbade the use of forks in her monasteries as decadent. In Italian table rules from the beginning of the 17th century it is said: “Our members may ban forks and spoons from their table. Hasn't nature given us five fingers on each hand? Why do we want to insult them with those stupid instruments that are better suited to loading hay than eating? ”Nevertheless, a large two-pronged spatula fork was always in use.
Four-pronged forks have been around in France since the 17th century . Initially only in Italy, the fork became increasingly fashionable as cutlery in the 16th century. In the middle of the 17th century, Johann Michael Moscherosch criticized the new “fashion” in his satire Whimsical and Truthful Stories of Philander von Sittewald : “The ancestors learned this folly of eating salad with a fork from the Welsh people. [...] I eat like an honest Bavarian Schwab, what else should my fingers be for? How can I like the salad if I don't eat it with my fingers? "( Moscherosch )
The use of forks was expressly forbidden in the monasteries for a long time.
“The fork as part of personal cutlery did not gain acceptance in Germany until the end of the 17th century. In the courtly area it can be proven a little earlier as a serving fork for meat and occasionally as a confectionery or cheese fork. "
The consistent use of a knife and fork while eating only became the norm relatively late. "For example, the division of labor between the hands, in which the left hand holds the fork not only when cutting solid food, but throughout the course, was not established as generally binding in large parts of the Central European upper classes until the 19th century."
Eating with cutlery, which was no longer worn on the belt , but lay ready next to the plates , spread to the lower social classes with the help of mass production made possible by industrialization at the end of the 19th century .
List of fork types
- Table fork (largest dining fork)
- Dinner fork (intermediate size, since the Second World War until today)
- Dessert fork (smaller dining fork, sometimes with three prongs)
- Cake fork (much smaller dessert fork, a left prong for pressing is usually wider and more stable)
- Confectionery fork (much smaller than dessert fork, often only with three prongs)
- Carving fork (much larger than a table fork, from the two-part meat serving cutlery)
- Fish fork (slightly shorter and wider front part, four prongs, sometimes additional recess in the front part)
- Potato fork to hold the hot tuber securely while peeling (Originally a turned wooden handle, short-handled and three-pronged. The three 3 to 4 cm long prongs made of sharpened round wire with a diameter of barely more than 1 mm run parallel along the edges of an equilateral prism with about 2 to 2 , 5 cm side distance, then bend towards the central axis and run in the middle, probably twisted inside in the wooden handle)
- Various serving forks (mostly two-pronged, including one type with a "load scraper")
- French fries fork (small, two- or three-pronged, made of wood or plastic, intended for single use)
Disposable polystyrene forks at sausage stands can soften and bend a little if they are pierced into very high-fat sausages that have just come off the grill. Light cutlery for travel and camping is usually made of more heat-resistant and smoother melamine resin . Wooden disposable cutlery, molded from thin wood, has been on the market since around 2010 . Noble, heavy and antibacterial cutlery made of silver or with a silver coating, which slowly turns brownish-black due to hydrogen sulfide. Common in households is stainless and nickel-free, therefore somewhat ferromagnetic cutlery made of chrome steel . At the end of the war and also as light military equipment there was cutlery made of cast aluminum or sheet aluminum, which was later confiscated because aluminum was suspected of being harmful. In older times there was also iron cutlery, especially knives and forks, which were not rustproof, which is why they had to be carefully kept dry and should not come into contact with acidic foods. Own “knife cloths”, which of course turned brown from the rust, are evidence of this.
Chopsticks have been around since the 18th century BC. In China . The roughly 25 cm long chopsticks with blunt ends made of jade , bamboo or wood are held in pairs in one hand and used like tongs to pick up bite-sized, pre-cut bites, but also to “scoop” directly from the bowl into the mouth. The chopsticks are also used in Japan , Korea and Vietnam ; these countries were culturally influenced significantly by China. In addition, chopsticks are traditionally not used in Asia , but in the course of cultural globalization they have now also established themselves in other Asian countries - and in some cases worldwide - as a supplement to cutlery, also in the form of disposable chopsticks.
Tongs can be found as auxiliary cutlery to make it easier to eat snails, asparagus and lobsters. Tongs as carving and serving cutlery for serving and portioning z. B. ice cubes, pasta, pastries and sugar cubes. The pincer-like nutcrackers and the pincer-like tea strainers also fall into this category.
List of types of pliers
- Ice tongs
- Lobster tongs
- Pastry tongs
- Snail tongs
- Spaghetti pliers
- Asparagus holder, tongs
- Tea tongs / tea infuser spoon
- Sugar tongs
The neologism Göffel describes a combination of fork and spoon. The analogous English word creation is spork , formed from English spoon ("spoon") and fork ("fork"). The spoon often has the basic shape of a normal tablespoon, the front end of which is slit into short fork prongs. It goes well with stews with meat. There are disposable spoons, high-quality models for the household and those as practical equipment for backpackers. There is also the variant of the folding spoon, in which the spoon head can be placed on the handle and folded out again for use.
Mixed forms with a cutting function are the "Nelson knife and fork combination" and the "Imperial fork" of Wilhelm II . Basically, the cake fork and the grapefruit spoon as well as the cheese serving knife with fork tip also belong in this category. Knife-fork combinations are called knork in English (word formation from knife and fork ), spoon-knife combinations spife (word formation from spoon and knife ).
The triple combination of knife, spoon and fork is called sporf in English . It is also known by the brand names Splayd and Eazi-Eater . In some German regions this combination is also known as a cutting spoon .
Assembled cutlery can either combine the different eating utensils on one side or be provided with different eating tools at both ends, such as the lobster spatula with spike.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Christian Schnabel was already busy inventing mixed forms of eating utensils.
The fish cutlery is a specialized form of cutlery for eating fish . It consists of a slightly wider flat fork and a blunt slider than a fish knife . Due to the structure of the fish meat, no special cutting power is required. The pusher allows the fish's skin to be carefully removed and does not cut bones, which could be potentially dangerous. The flat shape of the fork makes it easier to lift the fish off the bones . Usually people eat with the fork in the left hand and the fish knife in the right hand, and the table is set accordingly.
The fish cutlery with special knife was supposedly developed because earlier knives had a blade made of carbon steel, which affected the taste of the fish. The blade of the fish knife, however, was made of silver or silver-plated. Since today's table knives have tasteless stainless steel blades, a separate fish knife is no longer necessary; in the end - analogous to the rule not to cut asparagus with a knife - only for reasons of tradition. However, even today, some fish cookbooks recommend covering two forks if you don't have fish cutlery. A normal knife is only recommended for matjes and Bismarck herring because the herring is inserted raw.
However, the introduction of fish cutlery and the rule of labels not to cut fish with the usual cutlery came about very late. At the end of the 18th century, a French author mentions that it is improper to touch fish and pies with a knife. In the 19th century, this view apparently first spread in France. In Germany, the new rule on the use of cutlery for fish cannot be proven before 1870, and it was only from this time that silver fish cutlery appeared in German-speaking countries. “So the instruction to eat fish without a knife is at the same time a commandment that fish only come into contact with precious metal; This already gives its origin a socially distinctive function. ”Since the impairment of taste caused by steel cutlery was neither mentioned nor objected to in the relevant literature for centuries, it can be concluded that the introduction of special cutlery primarily served to separate the upper class from the lower classes, which meanwhile also ate with a knife and fork. The fish cutlery fulfilled the function of a status symbol .
When eating lobster , special lobster tongs are occasionally used to break open the shells and very narrow forks, so-called lobster forks, are used to pull the meat out of the claws and legs.
The coffee cutlery is part of table cutlery. This also includes some special tools that were only developed in the course of the 19th century, such as the cake knife . Traditionally, the coffee cutlery also includes the cake server to lift the cut pieces of cake from the plate and place them on the cake plates. The sugar in coffee requires a sugar scoop or - with lump sugar - a sugar tongs , which is stirred with a teaspoon . If necessary, the cream spoon comes into action before you can use the cake fork to turn to consumption.
Children's cutlery / eating cutlery
There are specially shaped pieces of cutlery for children. As a rule, children's cutlery consists of a children's fork, a children's knife (or food pusher) and a children's spoon. All cutlery is designed in size and shape for children's hands. Rounded edges and blunt blades reduce the risk of injury. There are special cross spoons and glass spoons with an elongated handle for feeding babies.
A snail set is used for the consumption of farmed Roman snails . With the snail tongs, the hot snail shells (snail shells) filled with snails and herb butter are held in such a way that the cooked snails can be taken out and consumed with a small, two-pronged fork.
Serving and carving cutlery
The serving and carving cutlery belong to the cutlery in the broader sense . These devices are used to present food and to carve meat and fish. Examples of serving cutlery are the two-part salad cutlery, serving spoon, potato spoon, cream spoon, sugar tongs and serving butter knife.
Use as a unit of measure
Cutlery is also used for some kitchen dimensions. Above all, the most common types of spoons, but also the knife, are also used in many recipes to measure smaller amounts of liquid or powder:
- Old teaspoon (teaspoon): approx. 5 ml
- Children's spoon: approx. 10 ml
- Old tablespoon (tbsp): about 15 ml
The above guideline values only represent very vague quantities. In addition, it is necessary to state whether “level” or “heaped” spoons are meant. (a tablespoon deleted summarizes average of 12 ml). For example, a "level" tablespoon of salt contains around 10 grams and a "heaped" tablespoon of salt contains around 15 grams. It should be noted that most of the recipe information refers to the old, deep spoon shapes and not the modern, flat spoons.
The following dimensions can be found in current cooking literature:
- Modern teaspoon (TL): approx. 2.5 ml
- Modern coffee spoon (KL): approx. 5.0 ml
- Modern tablespoon (tbsp): about 7.5 ml
In the NIST Guide to the SI , the tablespoon is converted into or 14.78676 ml. And the teaspoon into or 4.928922 ml. With this definition, the volumes of the teaspoon and the tablespoon are integral parts of the US gallon .
There is also the “measuring spoon (ML)” spoon measuring 10 grams.
Materials and manufacture
Cutlery was and is made from a whole range of materials. In addition to wood, bone, horn, mother-of-pearl, pewter, brass and aluminum, mainly made of iron (steel and stainless steel), silver and, especially for disposable cutlery, plastic, more rarely also made of glass and porcelain, sometimes in different material combinations.
For centuries, silver was the preferred material for cutlery. The metal is resistant to acid, its surface has an antibacterial effect, but can of sulfur-containing foods such as fish or egg by sulfide formation are dark. Fish cutlery made of silver is therefore often gold-plated. For this reason, egg or caviar spoons are often made from horn or mother-of-pearl . The knife blades are usually made of steel because silver cannot be sharpened sufficiently. In earlier times carbon steel was used for blades, but it can rust and then had to be painstakingly cleaned. Today mostly rust-free material (see below) is used.
In Germany Solingen is a traditional center of blade manufacture, in Austria Styria . The industrial manufacture of cutlery began in Sheffield , Great Britain. Until the 19th century silver cutlery was handcrafted by silversmiths .
Since the 19th century, cutlery can also be silver-plated using the galvanization process. Since such cutlery largely preserve the advantages of silver cutlery, but are much cheaper, they have largely replaced solid silver cutlery today. In order to make it clear to the buyer how much precious metal was used in the cutlery, a binding and still valid stamping of silver-plated cutlery was introduced around 1850 . The stamped number indicates how many grams of pure silver are contained in a set of 12 table forks and 12 table spoons. The most common is the stamping 90, 40, 60, 100 and 120 are also common. Cutlery made of 800 silver was also electroplated silver, as the sheen of the electroplated pure silver is more beautiful than that of the 800/1000 fineness .
Since silver is expensive, substitute materials for cutlery production were developed in the 19th century. 1824 came in Prussia so-called German silver on the market containing absolutely no silver, but from a copper - zinc - nickel - alloy was. Around the same time, a company in Aue was using the same material called Argentan . Alfénide from the French company Christofle has a very similar composition . Another imitation silver is Britannia metal made from tin and antimony . Due to the scarcity of raw materials, cutlery was often made of aluminum during the Second World War and in the post-war period . For a long time this material was mainly used in the GDR , where all the cutlery was produced by the state- owned ABS company.
Since the 1920s, cutlery has been increasingly made of stainless steel , initially by WMF in Germany , which has been using Krupp stainless steel as a material for kitchen appliances under the brand name Cromargan since 1922 . Since the 1930s she has also brought stainless steel cutlery onto the market. The Saxon metal goods factory Wellner & Sons presented their stainless steel cutlery at the Leipzig Autumn Fair in 1929 . Before the Second World War, stainless steel cutlery was used almost exclusively in restaurants and canteens , not in private households. It had a reputation for being a cheap substitute for silver.
In 1907 the Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland developed the first fully synthetic plastic , which was named Bakelite after him . In the period that followed, cutlery made of Bakelite, but also other plastics, was made mainly in England and France. They were not considered to be a substitute for silver cutlery, as production was initially very expensive. Acrylic came onto the market as a new material in the late 1940s ; today egg spoons and salad servers are made from it, otherwise almost exclusively disposable cutlery, for example in portion packs for fast food or on air travel . The Danish company Bodum is one of the few manufacturers who also bring high-quality household cutlery made of plastic onto the market, which are designed by designers . Children's and travel cutlery are also made from plastic.
Using the cutlery language, guests in a restaurant use the position of the knife and fork to indicate whether they have finished eating with the plates not yet completely emptied and the waitress can clear the plate or plates, or whether they want to continue eating. The rules for this are not always uniform; they can also differ from country to country.
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