French cutlery story


When it comes to food culture, perhaps only France can really compare with China. The French pay great attention to dining etiquette, and the placement of tableware is one of the contents of food culture.

do you know? In France, different tableware generally has its specific position. The picture above shows the standard arrangement method of French tableware.

Yes, your math is good, here are eighteen different tableware! Do you know what they are used for? Let's increase knowledge together~

1: Soup Spoon 2: Dessert Knife 3: Dessert Fork 4: Fish Knife

5: Harpoon 6: Main Knife 7: Main Fork

8: Main plate 9: Bread knife 10: Bread plate

11: Butter Jar 12: Dessert Fork 13: Dessert Spoon

14: wine glass 15: white wine glass 16: red wine glass

17: water cup 18: salt shaker or pepper shaker

Speaking of the story of French tableware (les couverts de table), it is really a long story~ (Small bench melon seeds and peanut mineral water is ready!)

The Couverts Story

The word "Couvert" originated from the Renaissance (la Renaissance).

Originally, couvert referred to the lid used to cover cutlery and spoons. In the mid-sixteenth century, under the reign of Louis XIV (sous le règne de Louis XIV), nobles used to cover their tableware with lids.

At that time, in order to prevent being poisoned, the king always ordered the servants to cover the dishes and tableware with lids before serving. This is where the expression "mettre le couvert" comes from, which originally meant "to put the lid on" and now means "to set the table".

The first cutlery was the knife and spoon (le couteau et la louche), which appeared in prehistoric times (la Préhistoire). The appearance of the fork was later. It was not until the Middle Ages (le Moyen-Âge) that the tableware in the modern sense (three-piece knife, fork and spoon) was officially born.

However, in the 18th century, most people still used to eat with their hands, including the nobles. At that time, the fork was regarded as a devil's implement, which would inspire one of the seven deadly sins (un des sept péchés capitaux) - human gluttony (la gourmandise).

La fourchette fork

In the sixteenth century, Catherine de Medicis, an Italian noblewoman and wife of King Henry II of France, brought the fork from Italy to France.

The forks that first came to France had only two or three teeth and were used to eat fish and meat. King Louis XIV of France forbade his children to use forks, preventing them from stabbing each other with them. It took some time before the fork really found its way into thousands of French homes.

It was not until the eighteenth century that forks with four tines began to be widely used. At that time, it was popular for the nobles to wear fraises. The complicated and huge lace of the frises made it difficult for the nobles to put food into their mouths.

King Henry III was the first to use a fork on a daily basis, because eating with a fork avoided soiling his robe and ruff (la fourchette lui permettait de s’alimenter sans tacher sa robe et sa fraise).

Le couteau knife

In the Middle Ages, before the fork appeared, people used a knife to fulfill the function of the fork, and the tip of the knife delivered food to the mouth.

Later, out of superstition, people put precious handles (le manche) on table knives to prevent themselves from being poisoned. At that time, table knives were very personal items, and everyone wore his own table knife on his belt (chacun avait le sien qu’il portait à sa ceinture).

With the advent of the fork, the utility of the table knife was reduced to cutting food. In the seventeenth century, the meat cleaver (couteau à viande) appeared. It wasn't until the nineteenth century that table knives officially entered ordinary households. Every family was equipped with several set knives, so that guests invited to dine did not have to bring their own special table knives.

la cuillère spoon

In different historical backgrounds, the materials and uses of spoons are also different. In the Paleolithic (le Paléolithique), spoons were made of wood or bone; in the Neolithic (le Néolithique), they were made of ceramics; Eggs were eaten; eventually, large and small spoons were born in ancient Rome (la Rome Antique).

People of different social classes use spoons of different materials. The poor used wooden spoons, the middle class used tin spoons (en étain), the nobles used silver spoons, and the royal family used gold spoons. This is also where the phrase "Naître avec une cuillère en argent [ou en or] dans la bouche" comes from.

In the seventeenth century, spoons, like knives and forks, became private and precious objects, and the family coat of arms was engraved on the tableware handles. A century later, gold and silver craftsmen made a variety of spoons of different sizes according to different purposes.


« de table »: la traditionnelle « grande cuillère » sert pour de nombreuses utilizations et est généralement un substitute à la cuillère à soupe.

Table spoon: The traditional "big spoon" has a wide range of uses and can generally be used to replace a soup spoon.

« à soup » ou « à consom

We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, analyze site traffic and personalize content. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies. Privacy Policy