See also: History of Forks; History of Napkins;
Rules, Waiting Tables; etc.
TABLE MANNERS TRIVIA & FACTS
English Table Manners in the mid-15th century:
Men wore their hats at the table to keep their long hair out of the food. Guests brought their own knives, and food was eaten the fingers. Forks were used for cooking and sometimes for serving, not for eating food - it wasn't until about 1465 that forks began the transition to an eating utensil.
There were no napkins, and guests were warned not to clean their teeth on the tablecloth. Handkerchiefs were also unknown, and men were requested to use their knife hand to blow their nose, not the hand whose fingers were used for food.
These times would not have been easy for a vegetarian - meat was the national food, and vegetables were scarce and despised.
Water was not a beverage of choice - the national beverages in England were beer and ale. An allowance of 1 gallon of beer a day, even for nuns, was common. Drunkeness was very seldom punished.
The English “drink no water, unless at certain times upon religious score, or by way of doing penance.” (Sir John Fortescue, c.1470).
Germany in the 15th century:
As in England, table manners in 15th century Germany were coarse. Even though forks had been in use in Germany since the 14th century, both men and women would still rather eat with their fingers.
As late as the 16th century a preacher condemned forks as contrary to the will of God, Who 'would not have given us fingers if He had wanted us to use forks.'
Drunkenness was widespread, and heavily spiced foods most likely added to this problem.
'The Reformation,' W. Durant (1957)
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