When sitting down for a medieval meal, many things would look familiar White linens covered the tables and they used dishes similar to ours. On the other hand, many things would be different.
Instead of glass or ceramic plates, the upper classes used trenchers. Made of hard bread and later wood or metal, the trenchers held the individual's servings of the main dishes. If made of bread, they were collected with the leftovers after the meal and handed out to the poor. (http://thescriptorium.co.uk/glossary.php)
The familiar, though different, spoon and knife lay near at hand. However, the fork would have been no where in sight. A fork or two might be used to spear meat from platter to trencher, but, on the whole, the diners would use their fingers or the tip of their sharp eating knife to bring food from trencher to mouth. The fork as an eating utensil did not become popular until the late 1600s (http://www.hospitalityguild.com/History/history_of_the_fork.htm).
Next Wednesday, I will talk more about dining.
Are you surprised that forks appeared
so late in European history as an eating utensil?