The population is western industrialized countries use cutlery, and seldom their fingers, except when eating a sandwich.
Before spoons were invented two thousand years ago, people literally “ drank” their soups out of bowls. In fact, in many Middle Eastern and Oriental countries millions still eat with their fingers. They claim cutlery to be an intrusion between the food and their mouths. In these countries soups are seldom served, and desserts consist of either fresh fruits or sweets that lend themselves to out-of-hand eating.
Chinese came up with the idea of chopsticks, which are ideal for the type of food they cook. Everything is chopped bite size. Rice is sticky, and always served separately in a bowl, that is brought tot eh mouth. The chopsticks are used for picking lumps and putting them in the mouth. Chinese used and still use spoons since liquid are quite popular, particularly in China. Sometimes a bowl of soup with rice noodles constitutes lunch fro a Chinese labourer.
In western cultures, spoons and knives were the only cutely. Spoons were used to feed children and invalids, and knives preferred by men who were served hunks of roasted meat. They not only cut the roast, but also distributed it at the table to their families.
A prototype of fork appeared first in the sixth century in the Byzantine Empire. This two-pronged utensil was used as a tool to hold firm large pieces of roasted meat while carving. Byzantines were at the time the most sophisticated, cultured, and politically the most manipulating people on earth. The Byzantine fork was a two-pronged affair, much like a carking fork that cooks used today.
A Byzantine princess who married a “doge” (Venetian ruler in the 11th century) introduced the “fork” to the Venetian court. However, Venetians never warmed up to the crude device. It became seven centuries later during the Renaissance in Italy. Gradually the Italian nobility started using the two-pronged fork for eating pasta, and eventually added a third tine for better grip and balance.
Britons and French considered fork made eating an effeminate activity and continued to eat their fingers.
Undoubtedly, educated people as more hygienic perceived forks.
Today’s four-tined fork evolved much later for better balance.
Catherine the Great of Italy married Louis XIII in 1536 and brought the fork to the French court , that eventually was accepted by the ruling class and its entourage.
Charles I of England with his French wife her continental upbringing established the tradition of eating with knife and fork.
Yet British sailors proudly remained the last holdouts to eat with their fingers until the turn of the 19th century to the 20th.