types of forks and how to use them

Types Of Forks: How To Use The 4 Most Common Forks​

who this class is for

Waiters, bartenders, hospitality staff, guests, house-party hosts

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About this micro-class

Forks come in various types, each designed for specific purposes. Here is a list of common types of forks and some specialized forks, and how to appropriately use them.

1. Common types of forks

There are 4 common types of forks that you are likely to find on a formal table setting. Use them according to the general rules of cutlery etiquette.

Dinner fork

Description: A standard fork that is typically used for eating main courses during a formal meal.
Average Size: Approximately 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm) long.
Use: For eating a variety of foods, including meats, vegetables, and other main course dishes. Hold it with the tines facing down when in use.

Salad fork

Description: Slightly smaller and often broader than a dinner fork, designed for eating salads.
Average Size: About 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) long.
Use: Primarily for eating salads and other appetizers. Hold it with the tines facing down when in use.

Fish fork

Description: It has a slightly broader shape and sometimes a notch on one side of the tines; used for eating fish.
Average Size: Around 7 to 8 inches (18 to 20 cm) long.
Use: Mainly for eating fish dishes. The notch can be used to separate the fish flesh from bones.

Dessert or fruit fork

Description: Smaller than a dinner fork, used for eating desserts like cakes and pastries or fruit salads.
Average Size: Typically 6 inches (15 cm) long.
Use: For enjoying sweet treats. Hold it with the tines facing down when in use.

2. Types of specialized forks

There are several types of specialized forks. Each one of them is dedicated to a specific food. To appropriately use any specialized forks, follow the same guidelines for eating with regular forks.

Specialized forks are usually not placed on the dining table before the meal. Instead, they are presented when their course is served.

Lobster fork or pick

Description: A lobster fork, also known as a seafood fork, crab fork, or snail fork, is a specialized fork used for extracting meat from shellfish like lobsters, crabs, and other crustaceans. It usually has narrow, pointed tines.
Average Size: Typically around 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) long.
Use: Lobster forks are specifically designed to help diners access and extract the meat from the shells of lobsters, crabs, and other seafood. The pointed tines assist in reaching and removing the meat from crevices and joints.

Oyster fork

Description: A small fork with narrow tines designed for extracting oysters from their shells.
Average Size: Approximately 5 to 6 inches (13 to 15 cm) long.
Use: Specifically for eating oysters. Use the fork to detach the oyster from its shell by sliding the tines under the oyster’s flesh.

Carving fork

Description: Long and sturdy with two long, straight tines; used for carving large cuts of meat.
Average Size: Typically 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) long.
Use: For holding and stabilizing meat while carving. Often used alongside a carving knife.

Fondue fork

Description: A long, slender fork with heat-resistant handles; used for dipping food into hot cheese or chocolate fondue.
Average Size: Usually around 9 to 10 inches (23 to 25 cm) long.
Use: For dipping pieces of bread, fruit, or other foods into a communal fondue pot.

Cocktail fork

Description: A small fork, sometimes with decorative embellishments, used for picking up appetizers and small hors d’oeuvres.
Average Size: Typically 4 to 5 inches (10 to 13 cm) long.
Use: For serving and enjoying bite-sized appetizers at cocktail parties.

Pastry fork

Description: Similar to a dessert fork but often has a wider, flat edge for cutting through pastries.
Average Size: Around 6 to 7 inches (15 to 18 cm) long.
Use: Specifically for cutting and eating pastries like pie or tart slices.

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