I know the real short fork is for dessert...but what is the diff between 3 and 4 prongs?
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3 prong fork vs. 4 prong fork
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You'll find both salad and main course sized forks in each "set," and both will have either three or four tines.
When in doubt at fancy dinners, use the "outside to inside" rule. Use the utensils at the extreme left and extreme right with your first course and work your way in with each succeeding course.
You finish with the dessert utensil(s) at the top of your place setting.
The difference is historical: the evolution of design / function: two prong, three prong, four prong.
See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fork
Some salient points from that article:
"It was not until the 18th century that the fork became commonly used in Great Britain, although some sources say forks were common in France, England and Sweden already by the early 17th century. The fork did not become popular in North America until near the time of the American Revolution. . . . The standard four-tine design became current in the early 19th century."
The two-tined fork, just as one might suspect, preceded the three-tined, and was still used in America (when a fork was used at all) up through the 18th century.
- 3 prong fork vs. 4 prong fork
Gear mentioned in this thread:
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