Similarly, pastry forks must also be small enough to sit charmingly on tea plates and assist with the dignified enjoyment of a sticky éclair, creamy strawberry tart, or fancy fairy cake topped elaborately with icing and sugar sprinkles. The true pastry fork measures only 5 or 6 inches in length and has only three tines, the first and second of the original four having fused at some point during the Victorian era to afford a little more pressure when breaking through pastry and cake.
Tea etiquette demands that little tea knives and forks never be used together in the way that knives and forks are employed at lunch or dinner, but individually, one at a time, simply to assist where necessary with the well-mannered consumption of foods that might otherwise leave the fingers inelegantly sticky.
In her book The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery writes, “When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things.” The afternoon-tea practice that we all love is surely enhanced by the use of these dainty accoutrements beautifully crafted of silver and porcelain.
From TeaTime, May/June 2015