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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post

    About a plaid being a blanket, I was surprised to see the heavy tartan blankets being sold as "travel rugs". Here in the USA a "rug" goes on the ground, not on your lap!

    Travel rugs date from the days of horse and carriage, they went on your lap and often pulled up higher to try to keep you warm, no heating in carriages. If you were wealthy enough to have a travel rug, then the carriage you were in had some upholstery to keep your back warm...
    They continued in use in Horseless carriages and railway carriages until interior heating was fitted..
    Their use as something to sit on outside came later..
    Last edited by The Q; 2nd January 19 at 07:45 AM.
    "We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give"
    Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill

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  3. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Q View Post
    Travel rugs date from the days of horse and carriage, they went on your lap and often pulled up higher to try to keep you warm, no heating in carriages. If you were wealthy enough to have a travel rug, then the carriage you were in had some upholstery to keep your back warm...
    They continued in use in Horseless carriages and railway carriages until interior heating was fitted..
    Their use as something to sit on outside came later..
    Precisely. I was thinking the very same thing. You still see them used thus in the carriage driving circles and carriage processions such as at Royal Ascot.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 2nd January 19 at 11:54 AM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

  4. #23
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    Not to mention at picnics, spread on the ground. Perhaps where the “rug”description came in. Other uses I would describe as a blanket. I am not sure why there should be any debate about different nomenclature between Scotland and North America. There has obviously been a divergence between word usage and I doubt that anyone does not recognise this. One significant difference I would say is the use of table cutlery where Americans will cut the food before using a fork. I wonder if this dates back to a time before the use of a knife and fork in Europe but which has never subsequently followed later developments there.

  5. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdinSteve View Post
    One significant difference I would say is the use of table cutlery where Americans will cut the food before using a fork. I wonder if this dates back to a time before the use of a knife and fork in Europe but which has never subsequently followed later developments there.
    Right you are, EdinSteve. The fork goes back to Greek times; the spoon and knife literally forever. By the 17C in all of Europe the fork was in common use among those above the peasant and lower merchant classes, but the spoon (of wood or horn) and sharp knife were used by all. Remember that what most ate was served up in gruel or thin stew form in wooden bowls. In France by the mid-17C the sharp knife was forbidden because it was also often used to pick teeth -- uncouth-- and points were ground off and soon ready-made blunt-tipped knives were produced for eating.

    By the beginning of the 18C blunt-tipped knives were imported to America (and Canada), but the fork didn't make the transfer across the Atlantic to America (it did to British Canada) later in the same century, except for use by the wealthier classes. The spoon, of course could continue to be made of wood or horn. The knife, if sharp-tipped, continued to be used to transfer bits of meat from the platter to the mouth.

    (As recently as the 20C in Wales and some parts of Lowland Scotland and Eire, bride's fathers presented the new groom with a wooden spoon and a wooden bowl on the day before his daughter's wedding. The sharp-pointed knife was still a personal tool and personal item carried by both men and women. I recall both men and women carrying hasp or small sheath knives for multi-use in the early 1960s rural West Highland and Ireland. Ah...quite different than the pen knives that very urban carried at the time).

    The method of eating in America, therefore, was to hold meat down with the spoon and cut with a fisted blunt-tip or sharp-tip knife. Then to put the knife down and transfer the spoon to the dominant hand to 'spoon up' the bit cut and the broth in which is was served. By the late 19C (and thinner or almost non-existent broths) the method was to cut everything up into bite-sized pieces and then set aside the knife as unnecessary. With mass-production the fork came into common use in America by the mid-19C and replaced the spoon as a hold-down. But that didn't alter the uniquely American Shuffle of knife&fork/spoon. In the UK we use forks and knives, together, and always with fork in left hand and tines directed down and knife in the right hand; no switching/shuffle. On the Continent, however, the fork has tines up and, with the knife as a cutter/hoe, is used to transfer cut/sliced food from plate to mouth.

    We have a set for four -- with one knife missing -- of two-tined forks and bone-handled round-tipped knife from the Jacobean period. The set was probably made in France, but ended up in Highland Scotland by the mid-18C. And we have a single 'prick' from somewhere in the same time period, used as a 'hold down' for cutting up bit of meat to be transferred from the knife-tip to the mouth. I think this was commonly used in America in the 18C (?)

    Back on topic, our family saves everything and even has a travel rug of woven wool stitched at its perimeter to seal-skin. I've never used it, but I can image it being on the ground -- seal-down -- and over the lap -- seal up. A rug and a blanket. I think of a rug as a covering for a floor and a blanket as a covering for an animal: horse, dog, human.
    Last edited by ThistleDown; 2nd January 19 at 11:27 PM.

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  7. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThistleDown View Post
    ...the uniquely American Shuffle of knife & fork... In the UK we use forks and knives, together, and always with fork in left hand and tines directed down and knife in the right hand; no switching...
    Interesting, the latter is how I eat, and I do believe that I picked it up from my father. I suppose some of us Yanks have figured out how much more efficient that way is.

    One question: is the former unique to the USA? What about Central and South America? Australia? New Zealand?
    Proud Mountaineer from the Highlands of West Virginia; son of the Revolution and Civil War; first Europeans on the Guyandotte

  8. #26
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    Am I to understand that people are saying that Americans did not use forks until sometime in the 19th Century?

    That would be an old wives tale. I did my thesis work on the material culture of frontier Kentucky. What goods the inhabitants had prior to statehood in 1792. There are many, many instances of forks, multiple forks listed in probate inventories, and there are forks recovered from digs of 18th Century homesteads and forts. Expanding out to Western Virginia and store inventories, forks were far from unheard of. People may have been eating Buffalo and corn, but they were eating it off of and with the same eating ware that was common in Williamsburg or even London.

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  10. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    Interesting, the latter is how I eat, and I do believe that I picked it up from my father. I suppose some of us Yanks have figured out how much more efficient that way is.
    I was raised with the usual American manner of using the fork in the dominant hand and switching out with the knife for cutting. But at the same time, I was taught that it was improper to cut everything up beforehand, so each piece of meat would get cut just before eating. I agree, it's terribly inefficient and quite ridiculous to do all that switching back and forth whilst eating. We had a discussion on this forum several years ago on this very subject, and I decided to try switching over to the style that ThistleDown described (fork in left hand, tines down, with knife in right hand). It's a much more logical way to use one's utensils for most types of food, but takes some getting used to.

    When I look at the people around me, however, I'm not sure that Americans need to get any more efficient at shoveling food in their mouths.

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  12. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by OC Richard View Post
    Interesting, the latter is how I eat, and I do believe that I picked it up from my father. I suppose some of us Yanks have figured out how much more efficient that way is.

    One question: is the former unique to the USA? What about Central and South America? Australia? New Zealand?
    Australians and New Zealanders should answer for themselves, but my rellies in both countries eat as we do in the UK.

    My niece is married to a major farmer in Costa Rica. He eats with a knife in his right hand and a fork in his left, tines down when he is cutting. Tines are up when he is loading with his knife. For such as rice, his fork is in his right hand, tines up. No cutting up and no transferring.

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  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Luke MacGillie View Post
    Am I to understand that people are saying that Americans did not use forks until sometime in the 19th Century?
    No, I don't think so, Luke. I think all that was being said was that the spoon and knife were in regular use long before forks became common, and that wasn't until the latter half of the 18C in America.

  15. #30
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    It used to aggravate my father that I kept my fork or spoon in my right hand and a knife in my left when eating. I could cut (without a transfer of utensil) and eat without missing a beat.

    I will put down the knife to drink or use a napkin (placed on left thigh) and keep the fork tines down when cutting, tines up when moving food to my mouth. Then there's the issue of knife edge to consider when dining. I keep the cutting edge down (toward the table) when held, cutting edge facing away from me and leaned on the rim of the plate during breaks in eating (dabbing my mustache) and finally placing the knife on the further rim of the plate when finished with that course of the meal (blade edge facing away).

    NOTE: I have and grew up with three brothers that felt they never had enough to eat. Did I mention I am the runt of the family?

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