A note on eating peas.

Elkington gravy forks designed in 1867

Elkington gravy forks designed in 1867

“I eat my peas with honey, I’ve done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny but they do stick to my knife.” Anonymous

The Gravy Fork, sometimes referred to as the pea fork, was designed by Elkington in 1867. The idea was to provide an easier method for eating gravy, sauces and perhaps peas. By using the fork also as a scoop or spoon the guest could enjoy everything on the plate without upsetting the sensitive rules of British etiquette.

The fork and British etiquette

Formally, a fork should not be used as a scoop. If you have a knife in one hand, the fork must be held in the other hand with the prongs pointing down.  It is wrong to have a fork in the other with the prongs (tines) pointed up.  Peas should be crushed onto the fork with the prongs pointing down. Using something to which they will stick, such as potato or a soft vegetable that squashes easily onto the fork is acceptable.

With a casual meal with family or close friends, it is sometimes acceptable to put down your knife first and then switch your fork to the right hand, with the prongs pointing up so you can shovel the peas against something else on the plate, thus ensuring they end up on your fork.  However, never use your fingers to push food onto your fork and never ever use honey and put your knife in your mouth.

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