The dinner fork is among the most common pieces of cutlery throughout much of the world. But this wasn't always the case. In much of medieval Europe eating forks were rather uncommon. Instead of eating with a fork, most people simply used a knife or a knife and pick set to cut up and transport food from their trencher to their mouth. There are of course many different eating traditions and complex dining etiquettes in the modern world, from the chopsticks of East Asia, to eating with the fingers or a piece of bread. Eating is profoundly social and all kinds of traditions and technologies develop around it. Folks in the medieval period usually carried around their own little dining set, which always included a knife, but also often included a pick, and sometimes a larger carving knife.
Custom knife and pick eating set
Knife and pick with walnut scale grips
Check out this video of Nathan at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival using our Ballock Dagger set to eat some medieval style roast pork. If you're interested, the recipe Nathan used was similar to this one. If you want a physical medieval cookbook, I recommend this one by Maggie Black. It has some awesome recipes. My favorite one for roasted pheasant starts out with the instruction "find a pheasant and slay hym"...
Nathan Clough, Ph.D. is Vice President of Arms and Armor and a member of the governing board of The Oakeshott Institute. He is a historical martial artist and a former university professor of cultural geography. He has given presentations on historical arms at events including Longpoint and Combatcon, and presented scholarly papers at, among others, The International Congress on Medieval Studies.
Craig Johnson is the Production Manager of Arms and Armor and Secretary of The Oakeshott Institute. He has taught and published on the history of arms, armor and western martial arts for over 30 years. He has lectured at several schools and Universities, WMAW, HEMAC, 4W, and ICMS at Kalamazoo. His experiences include iron smelting, jousting, theatrical combat instruction and choreography, historical research, European martial arts and crafting weapons and armor since 1985.