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Aug 20, 2006 12:35 AM

Eating Olives (with pits).. Politely.....

What is the polite way to eat olives that still have pits, in a restaurant ?

Alot of places seem to serve an assorment of olives, which often are NOT pitted - for example, Nicoise olives.

Now, if I was at home, I'd just pick them up with my finger tips and eat them and spit the pits in the general direction of other family members... JUST KIDDING.

But seriously.... do you pick up the olive with a fork (which is incredibly difficult and leads to "shooting" olives sliding off the plate ? It seems incredibly un-couth to just pluck the pit out of your mouth (and leaves dirty oily fingers).

Do you eat the olive, hold the pit in your mouth, politely bring the fork up to your mouth, ease the pit onto the fork, and lower it to your plate?

Anyone know, Miss Manners or other ideas on how to eat olives politely ?

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  1. if there are toothpicks available, pick them up with one. otherwise, take a spoon and give yourself a small serving on your bread plate. proceed to pick them up one at a time. depending on the size you may want to immerse them in your mouth, or bite around the stone. i prefer total immersion, but i've seen people do otherwise.

    1. I love olives. I have good table manners which I practice at home and when I'm out. These two quotes both confirm what I do as being correct and most preferred.

      Cawdron's rule for disposing of pits, gristle and other things you don't want to swallow: "The way it went in is the way it comes out." That means removing it with your fork and placing it on the side of the plate or beneath a garnish. If eating olives by hand, you may discreetly remove the pit with your cupped hand. Never spit food into your napkin.

      Italians practice what's called GALATEO...no, not gelato. GALATEO, which is best translated to mean 'etiquette'. They outline what to do with olives as well. Here's the link which includes proper etiquette for various foods including olives:

      Link: http://alimentazione.medialighieri.it... ...I've translated below.

      When at a bar (or restaurant), place small olives in your mouth whole. The pit or stone should be placed in the palm of your hand (which you have cupped) and then closed. The stone can then be removed from the palm of your hand and placed in an ashtray or in a small dining plate.

      Larger olives are eaten by taking small bites while holding the olive between two fingers (thumb and forefinger). The olive pit is then placed in your small dining plate.

      Lastly, when at the dinner table (as opposed to a bar I suppose), you are expected to use your fork when picking up your olive(s). You then place the pit on your fork, and place it on the border of your plate.

      1. I've consulted my library of etiquette authorities (I don't eat olives so it's never been a question I've paid attention to).

        Millicent Fenwick's (yes, the society matron who later became a congresswoman from NJ) inimitable "The Vogue Book of Etiquette" published right after World War II indicates that large olives should be bitten off in the hand, while small olives can go in entire by hand and the pit to come out by hand. This assumes olives are stand-alone. Emily Post indicates that, where olives are part of a salad, they are treated like the rest of the salad and taken in by fork and the pit deposited on the fork to return, as it were...

        1. Forget the "out as it went it" crap. Just discreetly take out the pit with your finger and thumb, and place it on the side of the plate. The same goes for chicken and fish bones. There's no way you can put a fish bone on a fork anyway!