As a piece of cutlery or kitchenware, a fork is a tool consisting of a handle with several narrow tines on one end. The fork as an eating utensil has been a feature primarily of the West, whereas in East Asia chopsticks have been more prevalent. Today, forks are increasingly available throughout East Asia. The utensil (usually metal) is used to lift food to the mouth or to hold ingredients in place while cooking or cutting them. Food can be lifted either by spearing it on the tines, or by holding it on top of the tines, which are often curved slightly. For this former function, in the American style of fork etiquette, the fork is held with tines curving up; however, in continental style, the fork is held with the tines curving down. A fork is also shaped in the form of a trident but curved at the joint of the handle to the points.

Though the fork's early history is obscure, the fork as a kitchen and dining utensil is generally believed to have originated in the Roman Empire, or perhaps in Ancient Greece (though there is some evidence of its use in Mesopotamia ). The personal table fork most likely originated in the Eastern Roman, or Byzantine, Empire. Its use spread to what is now the Middle East during the first millennium CE and then spread into southern Europe during the second millennium. It did not become common in northern Europe until the 18th century and was not common in North America until the 19th century.

Read more about ForkHistory, Types of Forks

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Famous quotes containing the word fork:

    Wherever a man separates from the multitude, and goes his own way in this mood, there indeed is a fork in the road, though ordinary travelers may see only a gap in the paling. His solitary path across lots will turn out the higher way of the two.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    Eye of newt and toe of frog,
    Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
    Adder’s fork and blind-worm’s sting,
    Lizard’s leg and owlet’s wing,
    For a charm of powerful trouble,
    Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
    William Shakespeare (1564–1616)

    Every country we conquer feeds us. And these are just a few of the good things we’ll have when this war is over.... Slaves working for us everywhere while we sit back with a fork in our hands and a whip on our knees.
    Curtis Siodmak (1902–1988)