Sunday, August 25, 2013

Once Evil Now Useful

One of our most common eating instrument, the fork was once considered an evil tool, the devil’s instrument.  To use it implied one was vain and possibly a heretic.  It’s a wonder the we have this convenient tool to use to use today. 

Records exits that indicate forks were used as long ago as in the time of the Greeks.  But it was long after that they came into common usage.  The story that links or forks to evil dates from the 11th century when a Byzantine bride married into an Italian noble family.  With her came golden forks which she used at her wedding banquet only to be criticized for her  vain and decadent behavior.  Two years later when she died of the plague it was said to be God’s punishment.

Fortunately for those of us who prefer forks to fingers, Catherine Medici was not intimidated by this tale and took forks with her to France when she married Henri II in 1533.   Her influence at court marked the beginning of the acceptance of the fork as utensil to be used along with knives (another story there), spoons and of course, our fingers. 

The simple two-pronged fork of history is still used but others have been added.  Three tines and four are common along with singlular long thing forms (for lobster) and ones with some roundness similar to a spoon (for dessert).  One count says there are 13 types of forks including: ones for dinner, lunch, meat, fish, salad, oysters, olives, lobster, ice cream. strawberries, snails, pastry and dessert.

No longer a luxury, no longer thought to be evil, forks are a valuable took for consuming our food without making a mess of our hands.  But what can we eat with our hands?  A topic for another week.  What’s on your list to eat with your hands? 

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Croatia is #28

It’s no surprise to read that some country – think Greece, Portugal, Spain – is considering withdrawing from the European Union – or being asked to depart.  For months and months who-might-go has a topic of endless speculation.  So far – no departures.

And not surprisingly, there’s been no worldwide discussion of countries joining.  Who would want to?  The answer – there’s still a waiting list.  And one new addition. On July 1, 2013, just weeks ago Croatia became the 28th member of the European Union.  

Why would this country of just over 4 million people, slightly smaller than Ireland, still want to join?  A USA Today article provides part of that answer.  According to Josip Virovac, 20, an engineering student. "Joining the EU is inevitable. We can't live in isolation and ignore the globalization. The primary goal of world economy is to make a big global market and if want to survive we need to be a part of this union."

Although membership comes with costs and new regulations, Croatia obtains access to a market of almost 500 million people and will receive billions of dollar of financing spread over the next six year.

Who will follow their lead?  Serbia will start entry negotiations in January 2014 and, according to a New York Times article, Kosovo, Bosnia and Macedona all hope to join in the future. 

Whatch the news and see which countries become the next additions to the group.