[Sca-cooks] fork mythology

Suey lordhunt at gmail.com
Sun Jun 24 12:53:02 PDT 2007

    This is not working out Alonso Luengo says at the beginning of the 
15th Century Pietro de Oreseolo married his son to Romano Agrilio's 
sister. He was a rich Venetian businessman. She brought gold forks to 
the wedding banquet for all the guests who followed her example of 
eating all morsels with this new fangled instrument. Now I have no 
knowledge of the existence of this man but of a woman called Agrilio 
which I shall explain below.
    Pietro II de Oreseolo was Doge of Venice from 991-1009. It seems to 
be pretty well established that the wedding in question took place in 
1004 in some sources between his son and a Byzantine princess.
    On the other hand Henrisch states and I believe one of our SCA 
colleagues too that the marriage was between a Byzantine princess and 
Domenice Selvo's son. Selvo was dogge between 1071-1081.
    It seems to me that Alonso Luengo has a grammatical mishap as his 
subject here is that a fruit fork was served as a novelty to guests 
during Suero Quinones' tournament in Leon, Spain in the 1434 and that 
Henrisch has a mishap perhaps because the fork was supposedly pardoned 
(to an extent obviously) during Selvo's service as doge, i.e. some 70 
years after the marriage took place.
    Now for the Agrilio problem, there is a story that she was a Greek 
princess very much influenced by the Byzantines who used the fork at her 
wedding banquet with the son of the doge in 955 - that would mean Pietro 
III Candiano (942-959). It could be possible as far as I know but then 
we get into a messy affair of the Church. Somehow beyond my knowledge it 
seems this had something do with the schism between the RC and the 
Orthodox Church in 1054 cause, I presume, the clergy of the RC Church 
identified the fork with the devil as DA indicates - you know the 
devil's pitchfork verses the natural gift of God that we have fingers as 
forks and using the devil's instrument, therefore, to transmit food from 
the plate to the mouth is an offense to God. - Here were get into Old 
Testament teaching that for any act against God, He strikes the Pharaoh 
or whoever down so therefore our heroine, whoever she is, dies some 
eight days after the wedding and in some stories the groom as well for 
trespassing the will of God. 
    But Alonso points out fruit forks are permitted to carry out that 
function as long as the food transmitted to the mouth does not come from 
an animal (ok so we can eat hay with a fork, no?). Obviously that means 
fruit is ok. Don't know why eggplants and other plants consumed are not 
included. Why don't we have vegetable and legume forks except that 
generally those were included in pottages, perhaps?
    On the other hand the knife prior to the fruit fork was permitted to 
carry morsels of meat to the mouth. The blade of the knife is metallic, no?
    Finally if metal is the question why was cutlery not all wooden? Why 
does the silver or pewter spoon come in centuries before the fork?  
    The more I read the less I believe! Can anyone sort me out?

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