A Brief History of Dining Customs and Etiquette

Depiction of early man communally cooking with fire ~ Table manners are actually older than tables. It is known that at least 9,000 years ago, people cooked stews, or soups, in pots. They would then dip spoons of bone or wood, with shells possibly attached to them, into the cooking pot, in order to eat. Some of the first rules that were established regarding communal dining, determined who could dip into the pot first. Even today, some Inuit families in the Arctic follow this age old tradition of eating from the group's common pot. Men get to dip first, followed by the women and children. At times, they don't even use spoons. They simply pick pieces of meat out with their fingers.

From the dawn of time, social skills and manners had to be created so that societies could survive. Early man's effort to interact smoothly with others, developed ways to make life easier and more pleasant. In doing so, certain practices developed for all aspects of life. Table manners were probably low on a long list of priorities, as man needed sustenance to survive. Undoubtedly, eating implements and utensils evolved out of mere necessity, not fashion. Hands and fingers were first utilized, but after fire was used to cook foods, burnt fingers surely led to the man's use of sticks, shells, animal bones and whatever else was handy, for bringing food to one's mouth. These early utensils did not last long and were eventually replaced with the development of copper and other metals.

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Etiquipedia - A Brief History of Dining Customs and Etiquette

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