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do you eat American style or European style?

How many Chowhounds eat European style( the European or Continental style is where you keep the knife in the right hand (assuming you're right handed), and eat with your fork in the left.
I've noticed that style more and more.

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  1. European It is more efficient rather than constantly switching untensils between hands

    3 Replies
    1. re: Winemark

      Me too, it is much simpler but it sometimes depends on what I am eating.

    2. I don't think I have ever seen another style! What is 'American' Style? Cut with the left? Or cut and eat with the right (putting down the knife after cutting)? If the latter, then if no knife is needed does it matter whether the fork is the right or left?

      I don't think I've ever consciously thought about how I eat with utensils before.

      28 Replies
      1. re: Atahualpa

        American style is, assuming you are right handed, to hold the fork in the left and the knife in the right when cutting, then putting down the knife, switching the fork to the right hand, to eat the item.

        I eat the "European" way from my parents, although they are American we were raised in Europe/Canada, and I guess they switched somewhere along the way. If food does not require a knife, such as certain fish, I will use the fork in my right hand, "cutting" the fish with the outer edge of the knife first.

        1. re: Atahualpa

          The "Western," or "American" method is to hold the fork, tine-bend down in the left hand. Knife is in the right. Cut. Switch the knife to the edge of the plate and move fork to the right hand, tine bend still down. Spear the cut portion and move to mouth.

          In the "European" method, the fork is most often held in the left hand, tine bend up. The knife never leaves the right hand, and is often used to push the cut portion, or maybe a non-cut bite onto the backside of the fork. The left hand then raises the fork (tine bend still up) to the mouth. The knife is not placed on the plate's edge.

          The "European" method is quicker. The knife is never placed down. The fork is not switched to the right hand.

          To me, I like the little pause, when switching hands, as I get to "charm" my European guest's wife with a bit of small talk.

          I believe that dining is about much more than efficiency in getting the food into my mouth. If I want the ultimate in efficiency, I'll have the kitchen purée the food, place it into a squeeze bottle, an never use any of my utensiles - just grab the bottle, and squeeze some of the food into my mouth - saves time chewing also. However, the "presentation" is not something to photogarph for Chowhound...


          1. re: Bill Hunt

            Bill, in Europe the tines are down. Always.

              1. re: pikawicca

                I think Bill meant tines down when he said "tine bend up". The bend being on the back of the fork.

                1. re: Atahualpa

                  Yes, your description is much clearer. I was having brain-cramps, or was too deeply into my wine tasting.

                  Thanks for setting it straight,


                  1. re: Atahualpa

                    Thanks for clarifying that - I miseed it too, clearly!

                2. re: Bill Hunt

                  In the "American" you switch the fork to your right hand but the tines are curved up not down. My mother was such a proper Southern lady (read anal retentive!) that we didn't "spear" anything except the meat. For example, if I cut a green bean, I would slide the fork under the bean and bring it to my mouth. I would eat a piece of roasted potato just like a bit of mashed potato. I guess I still mostly do it that way. It's funny how these things stick, isn't it?

                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Are you telling me you don't have the self control to moderate the rate speed of your eating so you deliberately slow yourself down by switching hands?

                    1. re: KTinNYC

                      No, once my hands get moving, I cannot help but shovel all food near-by into my mouth!

                      Of course I can moderate all aspects of my dining, with the possible exception of an "out-of-this-world" foie gras, but that is another story.

                      What I AM telling you is that I do not need to find the most expedient method of eating. I care not, for what saves a few nanoseconds. To say that one method is more "efficient" means nothing to me. I can be "efficient," in that the food makes its way to my mouth in a timely fashion. I do not need to do it any more quickly.

                      If the meter on the cab on the street were running, I might think otherwise. Until then, speed is NOT my focus.

                      Now, if one is hung up on speed, why not emulsify the food, place it into a pressurized container with a hose to the mouth, and hit the valve?


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        Correct me if I'm wrong, but no one has mentioned speed as a reason for eating in the 'European' style.

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          Well. I just read further down and, yes, people *do* cite expediency as a reason for eating this way. My bad.

                          (Note to self: read all the way down when commenting on an old post).

                          1. re: carbocat

                            I have been guilty of just the same. With longer threads, it is easy to do.

                            This is not the first thread to cite such, and I was about to re-read it completely, to make sure that I had not mixed threads. Glad that you saved me some re-reading. [Grin]

                            Now, I spend a great deal of time dining in Europe and the UK. I do find that my fellow diners are quicker, than I am. However, I attribute some of that to my need to engage my guests, just as I will do in the US - I'm often the last one done with a course, but then dining is about the company too, and not just getting food into my mouth.


                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              The pressurised method sounds great Hunty. Coult it be used for Taylor's '77?

                              1. re: Robin Joy

                                Of course not, and you know it. Now, maybe with an '85... [Grin] Assume that you are talking about the "blender" comment.


                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                        bill - although i detest the phrases "eastern" and "western" as meaningless on a spherical planet, and a simple holdover when rome was considered by a few to be the center of the world (i fly west toi get to japan - is it western or eastern??)
                        i have to say "european" style anything is pretty much "western" in the way you seem to be using the word.

                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                          I'm confused. I cut with the fork in my left hand, tine down.The knife in the right for cutting. Switch the fork to the right hand to eat. I thought that was American?

                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                            When I was a mere Northern UK stripling my Canadian aunt came over. I still remember watching this utensil ballet and wondering just what the hell she was doing. Maybe she had a problem with her left hand, or maybe she was just queer.

                            1. re: Paulustrious

                              Yes, things can look "wonky" from either side! It all depends on "where you're form." At least my UK friends allow me my transgressions.


                              1. re: Paulustrious

                                That's interesting. I'm Canadian and I've only met one Canadian who ever ate American style.

                                I never even knew about it until I was late in my teens and I injured my hand and my father commented that I eat like an American.

                                While in university, a friend told me the American style supposedly has origins from the old west where men had to keep at least one hand on their guns. Not sure if that's true but it's a good story.

                              2. re: Bill Hunt

                                I am American and was recently dining with a group of Europeans in South Carolina and one asked me why I switched hands when eating. I think he thought I was a "heathen." I felt self-conscious from that point on, and fearing that I had poor table manners, I set out to find the appropriate table etiquette. That string has helped a lot. Basically, Americans do it differenlty than the rest of the world! My only remaining question is about traveling. I am going to Germany next month. Do I eat American or Continental style?

                                1. re: llat

                                  eat however you are comfortable. don;t fear what others think of you

                                  1. re: llat

                                    just make sure you keep both hands on the table. germans frown on the 'one hand in your lap' kinda thingee. honi soit qui mal y pense '-)

                                    1. re: llat

                                      Germany uses Continental style.

                                      I taught myself to eat Continental style just because I got tired of it being a topic of conversation at every meal I had with European suppliers and/or customers. I also found that it messes up the "elbow flow" at the table to have someone who "eats right" sitting next to someone who "eats left" -- you're constantly bumping elbows if you're at a smallish table. Plus, it was just one less thing to stick out like a sore thumb, especially because I traveled alone. Kinda creepy, but I had a couple of guys try to chat me up in hotel restaurants when I "ate American-style" -- but never once after I changed...and I can only guess that my utensil handling drew attention and pointed out that I was an American woman traveling alone.

                                      I've read, but don't know the veracity, that this was taught to spies over the years, as a spy with a flawless accent would nonetheless give himself/herself away at the table.

                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                        or by hand-counting the wrong way (QED in inglorius basterds).

                                        1. re: linguafood

                                          don't know if either of them are true, but they're not beyond the realm of belief.

                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                          I heard about the spy story too sunshine. Good point about a woman traveling alone. If I ever do I might hafta learn the euro way. You never know when something might be a matter of life and death.

                                  2. Both, depending. I grew up switching hands, which feels more natural to me, but I learned to eat in the European manner when we visited France, and as we were having lots of meals with family and friends I ate that way to fit in, and came to appreciate the simplicity and efficiency of it. Now I usually eat that way if I have a large steak on my plate (which happens entirely too seldom!) or some other item that needs lots of knife-work, but not if there's nothing that needs much cutting.

                                    1. I prefer the American style.Eating European style loks as if you're shoveling food into your mouth.

                                      21 Replies
                                      1. re: iqdiva52

                                        Why does it look like shoveling if the fork is in the left hand, tines down? Just curious, because I don't visualize it that way.

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Not changing hands is a more efficient way of getting food into one's mouth. In other words, faster. My SO is half French and eats that way and it DOES sometimes look as though he's shoveling it in! Also, Americans tend to keep the left hand under the table except when they are using the knife and have switched the fork to the left hand. It sounds silly and unnecessary--I know my French inlaws think it is--but it looks better to me. The Frenchies have both hands above the table at all times, wielding fork and knife and...shoveling it in. The Frenchies also leave hunks of bread on the table and wipe their plates with it. But they have such sexy accents they can get away with it.

                                          1. re: Glencora

                                            I've had Europeans say that they think it is very strange that Americans keep one hand in their laps when eating. I've become self conscious of it as a result (silly, I know). IMHO, either method can look as if food is being shoveled (which I take as a negative) and either method can look "civilized" - it's all in the execution (as I guess I say below ...).

                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                              American Moms are always saying "keep your hands (and elbows) off the table", French Mamans say "keep your hands on the table".

                                              It is one of those cultural differences that remain. It is considered very rude indeed in France to keep your hands in your lap. The French don't know about the "American way", and to them it is a sign of being "mal elevee", of poor breeding, "sans education", not brought up correctly. This is one of the worst crimes to be guilty of in France.

                                              The historical and cultural roots of this custom come from a time when suspicion, poisoning, and other forms of mischief and treason were rampant. Keeping one's hands on the table was a verifiable sign that no harm was intended. In the late 18th century, and after the French Revolution, the custom continued.

                                              The guillotine is never far from the minds of the French. It explains why French women wear their furs on the inside of their coats, and wear very little real jewelry in public, in comparison with the Italians.

                                              1. re: Fleur

                                                Sounds similar to phrases used by my husband, which he would translate into English by saying "so and so is very well educated" - and I would think - no, so and so doesn't have an advanced degree - and he was actually referring to so and so's manners. Took me years to sort that out.

                                                In Spanish "maleducado" means having poor manners. Don't know how one says that someone is actually poorly educated in Spanish.

                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                    I am sorry but i have yet to comprehend that people equate advanced degrees with being more intelligent...education does not promise one greater intellignce...many people have very high IQ level but don't pursue advanced degree..just the same way that some advance degreed people are only verse in limited areas..re the post I am a Continental style

                                                    1. re: bulldogsnbostons

                                                      If you reread what MMRuth has said, you will find that you are comprehending her statement incorrectly. She doesn't make any assertion that people with advanced degrees are more intelligent. All she equated is "very well educated" with "advanced degree." And she was using that as an example to illustrate how differently she and her husband view the term "educated." Has absolutely nothing to do with intelligence.

                                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                                        Thanks Miss Needle - yes, this discussion has nothing to do with equating advanced degrees with intelligence - I don't think intelligence is even mentioned. I was just sharing the anecdote about the confusion I had over my husband's use of the word 'educated'/'well-educated' in English, when he was, in fact, incorrectly translating the Spanish expression for 'well mannered'/'well bred'. That's all.

                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                          Only ubermasonfan said "estupido" (tonto) (schemo in Italian). Nothing to do with education, especially if daddy bigbucks has pushed you through university via various endowments and string-pullings.

                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                  I was reared this way. The left hand (if you're a righty) stays in the lap. The elbows, oh Lordy, don't get caught with an elbow on the table.

                                                  1. re: chef chicklet

                                                    "Mabel, Mabel, if you're able, get your elbows off the table."

                                                    Gah... shades of Aunt Gertrude at the dinner table!

                                                    1. re: chef chicklet

                                                      The lap thing is very American. Hands should be visible in European dining. Elbows not acceptable anywhere in the western world for fine dining.

                                                      1. re: lagatta

                                                        Having grown up with the idle hands in the lap idea, I had to fight it (still revert sometimes - oh well), when we began hosting dinners in Europe and the UK. I had a protocol advisor, who instructed me otherwise. Obviously, the elbows are not placed on the table, but as you mention, the hands are visible.

                                                        My wife was easily adaptable on the Euro-use of the utensils, but that has been more difficult for me. I could "pass my test," but revert to what is often referred to as the "American way," because I'd rather not have some dinner table incident, if I try to do it the Euro-way. So far, my guests have overlooked my colonial utensil use, at least openly. I think they know that if I were to try to mimic their use, I'd embarrass myself horribly. They are obviously gracious, and understanding, regarding some folk from the US, so long as I pick all of the right wines, and entertain them. To all my Euro-buds, I extend a great big "thank you!" I mean no disrespect, but just cannot master their methods with regard to the utensils. They might whisper amongst themselves, or when the dinner is discussed later on, but never make me feel the poor host.


                                                  2. re: MMRuth

                                                    I agree, I don't think it looks like shoveling at all; esp w/the tines down! You're able to shovel more food onto a fork, when the tines are up in the American style.

                                                    Though more efficient, it's not possible to scoop food (vegetables & rice come to mind) onto a fork when tines are down.

                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                      That is his opinion and he's entitled to it.
                                                      Remember you are also loading your fork with the knife.
                                                      I do enjoy the European method but some folks just look like they're shoveling it in.

                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                        I tend to agree with iqdiva52. It is probably my provençal view, and my Western nature, but it *seems* that one is so interested in getting the food into their mouths, that there is no time for anything else, until the plate is cleaned. A feeling predicated on a Western perception? Yes, but that IS my frame of reference.

                                                        I also find that many European guests seem totally engulfed in the process of eating, but that might be a reflection of my perception of their actions. Now, I love eating, but for me, dining is more than eating.

                                                        Color me American,


                                                        PS my wife makes up for my colonial nature, so much is forgiven, when in Europe.

                                                      2. re: iqdiva52

                                                        How is "Eating European style" shoveling when you are supposed to eat off the back of your fork?

                                                        1. re: cemott3rd

                                                          Don't expect a reply - that post is five years old and iqdiva hasn't posted anything here since 2007.

                                                      3. Modified American, I guess. I don't find using a fork with my left (non-dominant) hand at all comfortable or efficient - I use a fork actively, not to just hold food I push onto it with a knife - but have no trouble using a knife with left hand unless I"m actually carving something.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: MikeG

                                                          The European act of using the knife to first cut, then to push, is just not something that I am comfortable with. Going back to my youth, I was taught that only bread, or a stationary bit of food, could be used to "load" the knife. Somehow, I feel uncomfortable doing otherwise.

                                                          I also place the knife on the plate's edge, with the sharpened edge towards me, at approximately a 20-30º angle. Should any other utensil be placed on the plate/bowl, it will always be inside of the knife. When done, all used utensils will be placed at 45º and inside the plate/bowl to signal that I am finished - still, the knife will be away from me, if more utensils are used.

                                                          I do not use the European method of resting the utensil on the plate/bowl, with the handle resting on the table.

                                                          Even at "state dinners" in Europe, I keep to my habits. Heck, I'm just a "Yank," and what should be expected of me? Still, I manage to charm Lady X, to my right, and she's usually a fast friend, before the night is over.


                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                            Heck, what's not to love about our totally insular culture? Of course, our "Yank" habits are superior. Hunt, I love you, but you need to get up to speed.

                                                          2. re: MikeG

                                                            I'm the same. I'm a rightie & American. Fork stays in my right hand and knife stays in my left hand.

                                                          3. European. I got so tired of switching hands when cutting steak and other meats. Now, it just feels very natural.

                                                            1. "Why does it look like shoveling if the fork is in the left hand, tines down?"

                                                              I'm not that person, but it has sort of that look to me, too, because you don't really manipulate the fork much - you as much push food onto it with the knife for conveyance to the mouth as you do "pick up" food with the fork, "American style."

                                                              Hence my using my fork in my right hand and knife in left. I don't have to switch off, but I can still use my fork American-normally.

                                                              54 Replies
                                                              1. re: MikeG

                                                                Maybe it is all in the execution (smile)!

                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                  Oh, I do agree with you. I cannot do it with any level of comfort, so I keep with what I know, and what I have used. My wife switches, depending on which side of the "pond," we're on.

                                                                  It's rather like my use of chopsticks. Any Oriental, above the age of 3 would be agast. Still, I can pick up one grain of rice, with my "heavy-handed" non-elegant method. My wife handles chopsticks, as though she was a 20the generation Oriental, from Hong Kong, but cannot use them for some of the things that I can pick up. Yes, I'd be given a 0 for style-points, but it works, and works well.


                                                                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                    The Orientals are okay with crackers as long as they try.

                                                                    1. re: KTinNYC

                                                                      "Orientals"???? Crackers???? WTF are you two on about? Many Asians (e.g., SE Asians) do not use chopsticks.

                                                                      [insert sideways grinning moron icon here to indicate good humor]

                                                                      I see a lot of occidentals using chopsticks on cooking shows. Makes you want to baqrf at the crude, rude, childlike manners - almost always holdin the chopsticks in the middle or even closer to the eating/pointed ends. So disgusting. Should be held near the back end.

                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                        Watch your blood pressure, Sam. Back in the day when Hunt was a kiddie, the accepted term was "Oriental." I think you may have just clued him in that things have changed. Cannot for the life of me figure out the "crackers" comment.

                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                            Just because "oriental" was accepted by occidentals doesn't mean it was ever accepted by the former...even "back in the day".

                                                                            1. re: OCAnn

                                                                              I've never understood this issue -- as the opposite of "occident" (west), the term "orient" (east) seems pretty harmless. I wouldn't be offended if someone called me an occidental, simply as a means of saying that I'm from the west. That said, I've retired my use of "orient."

                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                I think you can use the word for rugs made in the far & middle east without offense. ;)

                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                  except even the terms "eastern" and western" are ridiculous on a globe. if i want to go to thailand, i fly west. how is that "eastern"?

                                                                                  not being a european christian from 500 years ago, rome is not my zero point. so what was east or west of rome doesn't really much matter to me.

                                                                                  1. re: thew

                                                                                    So, what do you call the Eastern and Western Hemispheres?

                                                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                      i don't. why do they need to be distinct?

                                                                                      I call places what they are. Asia is asia. australia is australia. europe - well europe is really geographically asia too but why quibble?I mean europe isn't in the western hemisphere is it? yet we call it western society... and all the western religions are asian in origin. all the worlds major religions are asian. think about it.

                                                                                      as i said - it's a holdover from a soci0-political view of the world i am not part of. i am an american born jew from new york. thailand is to my west. europe is east of me. how places are situated physically from the vatican have less than no meaning to me. I find nothing so compellingly the same about all "eastern" cultures that i see any benefit to lump them together. nor "western" ones.
                                                                                      and the more i examine the terms the less sense they make to me.

                                                                                      ok, im done rambling.

                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                        I live in Dubai. The term Westerner has very clear connotations out here: people from Europe, North America, Australia/NZ and South Africa. As you can see, some of these places are not west of Dubai, while others are.

                                                                                        Like it or not, the term Westerner applies to a people from modern, advanced societies with their cultural heritage based in Europe. That's why most people abroad have no quibbles with what Westerner means or what it refers to, as opposed to Asians, South Asians or Middle Easterners.

                                                                                        1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                          i see that all those places are both east and west of dubai.

                                                                                          so middle easterners are not asians? south asians are not asians?

                                                                                          1. re: thew

                                                                                            What are you trying to prove? Quibbling over words as Bill Clinton did?

                                                                                            Like it or not, there are commonly accepted, commonly used descriptions of people from general regions of the world. Ask anyone in Dubai what a Middle Easterner means, and they will tell you it refers to people originating from the eastern Mediterranean, North Africa, the Arabian Peninsua and Iran, areas that are tied through a common cultural heritage with its origins in Arabic and Islam, although there are certainly other religions and languages that have flourished in this area.

                                                                                            Ask anyone what a South Asian is, and they will tell you it refers to people from the Indian Sub-continent, including Pakistan and Bangladesh.

                                                                                            The same thing with Asians and East Asians/Southeast Asians.

                                                                                            1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                              Agreed, as much as thew wishes to point out that such mapping is predicated on a particular socio-political mapping that favoured Europe and North America (yes, yes, we've all read Edward Said) this cannot dispel the ongoing usage. Denying it does not change the history nor the fact that the present day carries the residue of this history.
                                                                                              There are additional terminologies that have emerged, such as global north and south, but again, East and West also enable the chance to discuss biased perspectives.
                                                                                              I appreciate the effort Thew is making to problematise these terms (although again, others have done it to greater effect, i.e. Said) but if Thew is trying to discredit the ongoing usage, he's fighting a losing battle. And may also be refusing the chance to really engage with the assumptions that are smuggled in when such terminology is employed.

                                                                                              1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                i've never denied the terms, i said i find them ridiculous, and don;t use them myself. and it is indeed the assumption that i'm battling. if i understand what is meant by "western society" i'd have a hard time not fitting japan in there. for example.

                                                                                                the phrases don;t really tell me anything about the people, as they are way too broad to have much utility in the world as it stands today.

                                                                                                1. re: thew

                                                                                                  So what is your response to a Japanese person who describes himself as Western educated? Such as the case was with my husband's co-worker the other day.

                                                                                                  1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                    the words don't offend me. i'm just saying the words have very little useful meaning, or so it seems to me.

                                                                                                    1. re: thew

                                                                                                      Don't conflate Western and first world - Japan is the latter but not the former. You don't need to use the term Western in this sense - we're not the language police, and I agree that it's too loose around the edges to apply as a strict definition - but denying the fact that most of the world does use it this way is simply ostrichism.

                                                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                                                        not denying. just finding it meaningless in just about every sense. it's geographically silly, and culturally useless.

                                                                                                      2. re: thew

                                                                                                        I appreciate the fact that you are pointing out the arbitrariness of such designations.

                                                                                                        However, it is worth noting that to say these mean nothing to you signals a particular luxury. This kind of mapping, even as it has limited application to newer developments in geopolitics, retains its power. It kind of makes me think of white people who say 'I never think about race!' as if it somehow reveals a liberal and openminded stance. Meanwhile, it disregards the degree to which others (nonwhite) might be compelled to think about race.

                                                                                                        Yes, these directions are silly to you, and yes, we might consider them silly to all, but sadly, the mapping remains precisely because of ongoing power dynamics (that may one day be unsettled). That they don't apply to you is nice for you. Just remember that as meaningless as they are to you, such political mapping may still shape the lives of others.

                                                                                                        1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                          i understand and agree. but changing the memes that float around the noosphere begins with one person standing up and saying that they find these ideas to be outmoded

                                                                                                    2. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                      Do people in Dubai really consider the Maghreb to be part of the Middle East? At least from the vantage point here (France), it is a distinct part of the arabic world separate from the Near East (not all of which, as you mention, is part of the arabic world).

                                                                                                      1. re: tmso

                                                                                                        MENA is a common term out here to refer to Middle East/North Africa. While you are correct in that North Africa outside Egypt is seen as slightly different, the cultural ties are still strong enough for the entire region to be seen as a whole, if versus the rest of the world.

                                                                                                      2. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                                        For French-speakers, North Africa (west of Egypt) is not part of the Middle East.

                                                                                                        All the "Abrahamic Monotheisms" (Judaism, Christianity and Islam and some groups that are harder to define) originated in the Middle East.

                                                                                                        1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                          yes - they are all asian religions

                                                                                                  2. re: thew

                                                                                                    If you are such a stickler for words and call places what they are, how come you don't do the same for small plates? Why would you call small plates tapas when they aren't Spanish in origin and have their own names?

                                                                                                    Just curious.

                                                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                      you obviously misunderstand my motivations in not using western and eastern as words - as with th case for tapas it is about NOT being a stickler, and allow language (and everything else) to evolve to modern utility. In english we do not have a word for small plates, and tapas works well as that word. we have many words adopted from other languages that do not have the exact original meaning as they did in the original language (would you balk at calling a nap a siesta if you didn't take it at six o'clock?)

                                                                                                      Eastern and western however were terms that may have made sense 500 years ago when our views of the world, and our ability to participate in it were very different. we no longer live in a world without airplanes, or a world where rome is ground zero for defining our relationships with people. so those words no longer make sense.

                                                                                                      both of the cases are the same argument - allowing language to evolve to meet an up to date understanding of the world

                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                        We do have a word for small plates. Well, it's not a word but two words. Small plates.

                                                                                                        And actually I agree with you when it comes to language evolving (as I agree with the usage of the word "tapas" as it relates to small plates). But quite many people still use the terms Western and Eastern as words and find it quite relevant. For example, many Western nations have practitioners of Eastern medicine. I would say the great majority of people would understand what my statement means.

                                                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                          and yet - the western religions all come from asia. go figure

                                                                                                2. re: thew

                                                                                                  Doesnt matter much to me either nor, for that matter, does it matter much to me how anyone moves food from their plate to their mouth.

                                                                                                  However, just by way of idle chatter, I live in a country through which the zero median passes. It inherently defines east and west. I've never been to Thailand but I think planes from here would fly east because, like most of the inhabited world, it's east of here.

                                                                                              2. re: OCAnn

                                                                                                My mother said I was occidental, but she still loved me.

                                                                                              3. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                Yes, I harken back to a different time and a different place. Things change. Some for the benefit of being PC, and some because of enlightenment.

                                                                                                I'm also at a loss on the "cracker" reference, but then much goes over my head.


                                                                                                You would hate my chopsticks usage, but it gets me by. My wife is much more graceful, and probably much more correct, than I, but I can pick up much smaller items, than she can. Still, and regardless of my end result, you'd likely wince, were we to dine together. Now, I would look forward to that, but I'd probably bring blood pressure pills for you - just in case... [Grin]


                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                  Thank you, Bill. We could have dinner with no problem. I'm actually a lot more tolerant and relaxed in real life than I appear to be in some of these fun threads.

                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                    Sam, if only I would have the pleasure. I feel that you could teach me so much, as long as you can overlook my short-comings.


                                                                                              4. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                >>"Many Asians (e.g., SE Asians) do not use chopsticks. "<<

                                                                                                They don't? I've never seen anybody who grew up in Vietnam eat pho with anything other than a pair of chopsticks and a spoon. My Thai girlfriend in college always used chopsticks for noodles and noodle soups, although not for rice dishes. And my good friend who grew up in Malaysia uses chopsticks, fork and spoon, or fingers depending on seems right for the food.

                                                                                                My theory is that people in SE Asia use chopsticks for Chinese and Chinese-influenced foods. But that influence is pretty pervasive, so there are very few Thai / Viet / Singaporean people who didn't grow up using chopsticks at least some of the time.

                                                                                                Then again, you're much more widely traveled than I am. What's your take on it? Is it a rural / urban thing? An ethnic thing? Or are there some other factors at play?

                                                                                                1. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                  When I was in Thailand, all I saw was forks and spoons.

                                                                                                  1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                    Were you in an area where noodle soups were common? I can see eating pad see ew with a fork, but boat noodle soup? Maybe it's just my conditioning, but it seems a little strange.

                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                      thais use chopsticks (tahkiep in thai) for noodles, but not rice dishes

                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                        Well, I spent about a week total in Bangkok, with a few trips up to the north and south... I really don't remember seeing chopsticks, as well as being surprised about that. Incidentally, noodle soups (gua tiew) were my staple there as I was not yet into spicy foods (damn, I wish I could go back now that I am a chili head '-D). IIRC, I ate them with fork and spoon, twirling the noodles Italian style...

                                                                                                    2. re: alanbarnes

                                                                                                      Most Malaysians, Indonesians, Thais, and Filipinos do not commonly use chopsticks. People in the sub-continent use their hands - or spoons. You're right: many "Orientals" use chopsticks where chopstick use is not the norm for eating Chinese food (just as is the case in much of the US).

                                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                        Just to add another, Hakka cuisine is rarely served with chopsticks.

                                                                                                    3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                      As usual, coming to a thread hopelessly late.

                                                                                                      How to hold chopsticks:
                                                                                                      Indeed besides being able to hold food aloft, the use of chopsticks also has a factor of elegance.
                                                                                                      Chopstick cultures do consider the elegance of the gesture. Holding them close to the tapered end is - as Shogun Sam pointed out - definitely considered childlike and silly. But of course one always excuses foreigners, but someone of the same culture won't get off lightly.
                                                                                                      [insert sideways grinning snob icon here to indicate good humor]

                                                                                                      The tine-down principle
                                                                                                      A Polish aristo once explained why tine down, "because one must not show the silversmith's stamp (ponçon); that would be show-off."
                                                                                                      Sam, there are more eye-popping cultural gaffes than holding the chopsticks like a kindergartener. I still groan whenver I see old clips of Kissinger and Nixon accepting a present with one hand, and how bigtime Hollywood movies ("Year of the Dragon") have a scene of a fancy funeral where the calligraphy was obviously written by the same kindergartener who holds his chopsticks by the tapered end.

                                                                                                      Coming to my all time cringing pet-peeve, and sooooo off-topic:
                                                                                                      Please please dear fellow CHs, do not drum on the table with chopsticks and do not let your children do that.
                                                                                                      Do the Chinese and Japanese bang on the table with fork and knife?
                                                                                                      (Wish there were a roll-on-floor-crinkging icon.)

                                                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                        "{The tine-down principle
                                                                                                        A Polish aristo once explained why tine down, "because one must not show the silversmith's stamp (ponçon); that would be show-off.""

                                                                                                        But the ponçon is on the back, thus only visible when the tines are down. So I guess you're saying tines should always face up?

                                                                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                                                                          Now I am all confused.
                                                                                                          We are probably saying the same thing.
                                                                                                          Let me put it this way: The ponçon is on the concave side, - dunno if you consider that to be back or front, - which means that side should face the table top and should not face us.

                                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                                            Interesting. I see something similar with cigar bands in the UK. There, a gentleman will carefully remove the paper band (brand), while in the US, I have rarely seen that done.

                                                                                                            Thank you for sharing that. I had neither heard, nor though of such.


                                                                                                          2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                            Do the Chinese and Japanese bang on the table with fork and knife?

                                                                                                            as long as they keep the beat and play something interesting i say go for it

                                                                                                            1. re: thew

                                                                                                              I don't care if it's Ringo Star. One strike you're out.

                                                                                                            2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                              "But of course one always excuses foreigners, but someone of the same culture won't get off lightly."

                                                                                                              Maybe there IS hope that Sam would dine with me then, as I would definitely be considered very much a "foreigner," in most circles. Besides, he could take many stories away to tell his grandchildren, or anyone who would listen. It is not that I do not wish for elegance, but I just cannot attain it. My wife might not be able to pass as a "local," but she does possess some sort of elegance with her chopsticks. [Even if I can pick up smaller pieces, than she can.]

                                                                                                              Thank you for that info.


                                                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                Is putting an elastic band round the square end acceptable?

                                                                                                                1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                  I just want to say, I am an American citizen, born and partially raised in S. Korea.

                                                                                                                  My chop stick skills are horrible. I prefer to eat Chinese food with fork. One time, I was at a small Chinese restaurant with my ex-girlfriend when she asked the owner for chopsticks. He hands her chopsticks and looks at me...and I go "no thanks, I have a fork." He gave me the death stare.

                                                                                                                  When I eat with a fork and knife, I go half-euro and half american. When I'm eating a steak or something, I'm going euro style. Other things, American style.

                                                                                                                  I have to make a conscious effort to keep my elbows off the table, but at times, even at places like Per Se or Daniel, I'll rock my elbows on the table if it feels right. When I'm in the mood, I'll pick up the bone left over from a steak and gnaw on it, regardless of the fanciness of the steakhouse I'm at.

                                                                                                                  But regardless, I try to eat politely at the table and always show my appreciation for the food and those who provided it for me.

                                                                                                                  This thread started out as a nice informative discussion but somehow devolved into a weird PC discussion about....what exactly?

                                                                                                                  Let's focus on enjoying our food and each other's company here.

                                                                                                    4. I'm "teaching" my self to do European.

                                                                                                      1. European - even though I'm not European and my parent's are neither. I guess it came out naturally but also from observation when I eat out.

                                                                                                        1. Euro-style for Jfood for 98% of the meal. I like efficiency and this is the most efficient means for me to eat. My 2% comes at the end of the meal when there is a little rice or stuff like that on the plate. I then place the fork in my right hand and use the knife to push it onto the fork. Then the fork into the mouth.

                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                          1. re: jfood

                                                                                                            Agreed. I learned European-style a long time ago from my father, who traveled a lot for business, and mostly use European, but there are those things you can't spear with the tines of the fork. Then it gets switched to the right hand and food pushed up on top of the curved tines.

                                                                                                            1. re: jfood

                                                                                                              Now, if Jfood was only a "wine drinker," he'd see that one gets to have a sip, when changing hands! [Grin]

                                                                                                              Besides, if my fork is in my left hand, I am afraid that I'll "put my [SIC] eye out." [Note: indirect reference to "A Christmas Story."]


                                                                                                              1. re: jfood

                                                                                                                I eat Euro- style. But then I'm a Euro living in Europe.

                                                                                                                But, of course, like jfood, there comes a time when you need to go tines up to scoop the last bit of rice. And I do that keeping the fork in my left

                                                                                                              2. Aw, hell .. I just pick it up with my fingers, and gnaw on it ...

                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                1. re: phillyjazz

                                                                                                                  Now, since I am from Mississippi, that should have been my line!


                                                                                                                2. I am American but I lived in Denmark for a bit, and after my host family and I had gotten to know each other a little more, they confessed that they judged me to be a heathen after observing me during our first meal together. And it was all because of the way I had used my utensils, American style. So I got used to their style, and started to do the Euro style myself, but then reverted back to my heathen ways after a few months back in the states. Every once in a while, I will catch myself eating the Euro way, which is wierd since it has been almost two years since my visit there. Part of me is still hanging on to my Euro-life!

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: friedersdorf

                                                                                                                    I feel your pain, as I am a self-professed "heathen." Still, it works best for me.

                                                                                                                    Hey, I still like the idea of kissing the ladies on each cheek! Maybe even a heathen can embrace *some* European practices...


                                                                                                                  2. European, but then Japanese style if that's the food I'm eating, and ditto for Indian style with my hands . . . when in Rome (or I guess when eating Italian, would be the proper analogy).


                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: TexasToast

                                                                                                                      I had to learn how to eat cous-cous, Etheopian-style. Pinch the cous-cous between your two fingers and a thumb, and navigate these to your mouth. Took some doing, but I finally got the move down.


                                                                                                                    2. On a certain level internationally, most people will use the "continental" style. Just as French was the language of diplomacy for a very long time, European table settings and manners were the ones that became the norm in diplomatic circumstances.
                                                                                                                      Imagine a dinner for the 192 UN delegations using the prefered utensils and style of each country. Non-Western diplomats learn these rituals as part of their training.
                                                                                                                      Most educated people who deal internationally seem to adopt the same standard. Those customs are pretty wide-spread among Euros in general.
                                                                                                                      The advantage is a level playing field but sometimes I think we all want to do as phillyjazz suggests and "just pick it up with [our] fingers and gnaw on it" when we're faced with unfamiliar, unrecognizable, awkward food.
                                                                                                                      Personally, I hate watching people smashing soft foods onto the back of a fork held times down and think it's silly to eat a simple sandwich with a knife and fork, but that's considered proper some places.
                                                                                                                      The best advice I ever got on this was to watch what others did when I was in an unfamiliar situation. Follow suit and it's easier to avoid being an Ugly American.

                                                                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                        Here's a BBC article about pitfalls at diplomatic meals. No mention, that I can see, about the details of knife and fork use.


                                                                                                                        1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                          Awkward food items, eh?. Yes, I remember these. Going back some decades, I attended a dinner with William Faulkner, Hodding Carter Sr, and other literary dignitaries. The meal was formal. Gentlemen were wearing either dinner jackets, or a full tux. All of the ladies were in gowns and opera-length gloves. The entrée was “Southern Fried-chicken.” What to do? After looking around the tables, the ladies took off their gloves, and we all “grabbed it and gnawed.”


                                                                                                                          1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                            I'm pretty astounded by that. I can eat any piece of chicken, fried or otherwise, including the wing with a knife and fork. But this was the kind of thing that emphasized when I was growing up. Mother would say, if you don't know proper manners at home, you won't miraculously know them when you go out. Eating chicken with fingers at a formal dinner? No wonder some Europeans still think we're heathens. Amazing.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                              Ladies always remove their gloves before eating. This has been true for many, many years. My mother had special gloves that peeled back from the hand, freeing up the fingers to deal with the food. Never, never gloves dealing with food.

                                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                I wasn't referring to removing the gloves. My horror is that adults can't eat fried chicken with a knife and fork.

                                                                                                                          2. I'm comfortable with either style, depending on what, and where, I'm eating. I'm also fully functional with chopsticks. One of the strangest comments ever made to me when I was using the European method was, "Wow, how did you learn to eat that way?" Duh.

                                                                                                                            1. sorry but I hate the way euro style eaters smash food onto the downturned fork tines, wipe the knife blade against the fork tines and lift the fork to the maw. Looks crude to me. And my folks were English, so I grew up watching this. I chose to eat (with wrist resting on table edge when not in use; I agree the hand-in-lap business is silly) American style which is how we kids were trained.

                                                                                                                              But either way is preferrable to the grotesque way I see Amercian youths of all ages eating now: handle of fork or knife held by encircling clenched fist. Stabbing at food with a fork and eating off food piece held dangling in front of mouth. Gross!! gack!! I want to slap their parents!

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                Yes, yes, yes! We were out for Chinese on a Saturday night, and two guys in their mid to late 20s were having dinner - baseball caps on, utensils swinging in the air, clenched fists all around. One guy did something I'd never seen - he had a longish piece of meat on the fork - took a bit off one end, turned the fork around, took a bit off the other end, then put the remaining "bite" in his mouth.

                                                                                                                                And, for what it's worth - I'm not an "grumpy old lady" - haven't hit 40 yet .... and I would have reacted the same way 20 years ago.

                                                                                                                                1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                  You got it! For the record--European style.
                                                                                                                                  But back to the kids stabbing food with a fork with clenched fists. WHAT is that about? I've seen it and just don't believe it. The only thing I can think of is that these kids are the product of parents who were either too lazy or too afraid to discipline their kids or teach them proper table manners. In addition, as MMRuth mentioned, kids with baseball caps on? If I were their mother, I would rip those caps right off their heads. It is improper for any man, to wear a hat indoors unless it is a yammika (sorry for the spelling).

                                                                                                                                2. European - but then I'm left handed. Fork in the dominant left, knife in the other to assist as needed. But I keep the tines up when the food requires scooping, and invert the fork when stabbing is better (e.g. pieces of meat).

                                                                                                                                  A related question - do you cut your meat piece by piece as you eat it, or cut a bunch of pieces first? If you switch American style, precutting makes more sense.

                                                                                                                                  Another potential European/American difference - what do you do with the knife and fork when done? I believe the more European style is to lay them on the plate, with the knife blade crossed between the fork tines.


                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                    But precutting is verboten in American style. The whole point of American style is to slow down the process and make it much more complicated. It was a forced bit of etiquette to reinforce the overcoming of crude habits.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                      I thought precutting is verboten, period?

                                                                                                                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                        The Japanese pre-cut everything. It's all culturally relative. People who get worked up about how other people handle their utensils have too much time on their hands and not enough serious problems to spend their time on. It's not like mastering utensils in any manner is such a tough act anyway. Seriously, none of it requires any real skill or great feats of dexterity (not even chopsticks). People need to get over themselves.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: Orchid64

                                                                                                                                          I was referring not to food that is precut before it is served (such as meat and chicken in Chinese cuisine), but rather cutting up all of the food on one's plate before earting it. I don't know that anyone here is particularly worked up over this discussion - just exchanging information about conventions that we've learned or grown up with.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                            I grew up (eating American style) being taught that I could cut (only) three pieces of meat. Since then I've read one or two. Definitely not the whole piece.

                                                                                                                                  2. I was taught to use my left hand for my fork and right hand for my knife. My Mom was into etiquette but she also told us it was a safety issue, i.e., little kids shouldn't be fiddling with knives and switching hands. I don't know if that was a line she fed us or watching 4 kids changing hands and knives freaked her out. Guess it only sort of worked since one of my sisters still switches but she is the least coordinated.

                                                                                                                                    1. American. I don't mind European style, it intrigues me. However, now that I think about it, both arms on the table just doesn't look right.

                                                                                                                                      1. European. I do, however, occasionally eat tines-up, because some foods require a little more, er, help on the way to the mouth.

                                                                                                                                        The only time it looks at all silly is if you're eating, say, a salad that doesn't require a knife.

                                                                                                                                        Thai people, by the way, hold the fork in one hand and a spoon in another, and use the fork simply to push the food onto the spoon -- putting your fork in your mouth would be akin to an American eating peas with a knife.

                                                                                                                                        Watching Americans switch utensils when eating (for example) pho makes me ache... that cannot be comfortable, switching between chopsticks and the spoon.

                                                                                                                                        1. There actually are rules for all this which are pretty clearly laid out in good etiquette books, although many of the recently published ones give short shrift to the topic. Find an older one in a used books store and keep it with your cookbooks; it will have great information on table settings, invitations, place cards, etc. as well.
                                                                                                                                          Sometimes our mothers were wrong, sorry to say. I wasn't always sure so I checked the books to make sure my daughters grew up using good table manners even for casual meals. They were responsible for setting the table from the time they were really small and grew up with instinctive good table manners. No, it isn't easy, but teaching them gently and respectfully at home is better than letting them embarrass themselves as adults.
                                                                                                                                          All of the questions people have been puzzling over in this thread such as cutting meat one piece or several at a time (it's one at a time) can be answered in a good etiquette book. How some of these seemingly strange customs came to be can be found in Margaret Visser's book "The Rituals of Dinner, the Origins, Evolution, Eccentricities, and Meaning of Table Manners."
                                                                                                                                          What is important now is that we unlearn a lot of the sloppy habits that our American fast-food, casual culture has come to view as OK. When we travel abroad or welcome foreign travelers here, our manners should show respect at table. When we have bad manners, we look like Ugly Americans.
                                                                                                                                          Das Ubergeek makes an excellent point about ethnic restaurants. Americans should learn to be adaptable, not to mention humble, when using unfamiliar utensils to eat different foods. Ask for help or a lesson. Or watch those you are eating with closely.
                                                                                                                                          We now have access to the best restaurants and are in increasingly sophisticated social situations; we should know how to behave. Good manners aren't a test you can cram for. You have to use them every day so they become part of you.

                                                                                                                                          34 Replies
                                                                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                            Dare one ask where those rules in the books came from in the first place? Is there something natural, God given, about them, or are they contrived efforts to distinguish between polite, educated society, and the common riffraff?

                                                                                                                                            It sounds, for example, that the hand-switching, cut single bites, etiquette is designed to slow down the process of eating. Why? That style would fit with formal dinners, but may have been out of place in a boarding house or logging bunk house.

                                                                                                                                            There used to be a time when jackets and ties were required dress at polite meals. In fact they were still required at Saturday dinner when I was a college undergrad. Now, if a restaurant required a jacket, I'd take it as a sign that they are out of my price range.

                                                                                                                                            Some manners are useful communications tools. For example, the crossed knife and fork that I mentioned tells the waiter that you are done, and haven't just casually laid your utensils on the plate. The waiter can then remove the plate without having to ask 'are you done?'.


                                                                                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                              It could be that slowing down the eating process is done for health reasons, to improve digestion.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                Now, there again we come up against opposing problems -- I was taught, living in Europe, to lay my fork and knife next to each other at approximately "4:00", that crossing them meant you weren't done.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                                                    I follow your description, when finished. I have not run across the crossed utensils as that sign - however I am from the Deep South, so maybe things are different in other parts of the US. For us, we'd stick our Bowie knife into the table, then place the normal dining utensils at a 45º angle in the plate/bowl.


                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                      Throwing the bones over your shoulder was also a signal.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                        Depending on the venue, that should work well too. Not sure that I would try that at The Townhouse, but then some places it would get the proper attention.


                                                                                                                                                      2. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                        I'm from the Deep South (Louisiana) and when I went to college in the 1970s home economics etiquette classes reiterated what I had been taught at home: When finished, lay the fork and knife next to each other at approximately 4:00 position. Crossing the utensils meant you weren't finished eating. Of course, my Mom was a home ec major in the 1950s at that same school, but my grandparents manners were the same as ours. Perhaps it was the French influence.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: decolady

                                                                                                                                                          We never X'ed the utensils, but they were placed at a diagonal from about 4:00 for the handles and at approximately a 45 degree angle. The knife was always at the top, with the blade toward the diner.

                                                                                                                                                          I'm trying to think whether my wife, the NOLA native, X'es her utensils, but do not think that she does.

                                                                                                                                                          Now, my mom was from MS, but did attend Sophie Newcomb, so there was a NOLA influence there too.

                                                                                                                                                          Thanks for sharing, and sorry to get back to this thread so late.


                                                                                                                                                    2. re: paulj

                                                                                                                                                      MAny "rules" of etiquette evolved to protect guests and hosts from being accused of being rude. A rule-less environment is one where everyone is open to being accused of rudeness according to the subjective standards of someone else: by making rules objective, it gives the socially vulnerable an equating footing. That may be counterintuitive, but the socially vulnerable very much need to be armed with compliance with long-standing rules: those with power and social cache are always freer to violate the rules with impunity.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                        My theory is that most contemporary dining etiquette we follow was invented by the English because they had nothing else to contribute to the universal culinary tradition.

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                          LOL. I gather that a lot of the "special purpose" utensils - strawberry forks, asparagus tongs, etc. etc. were conjured up by Victorian nouveau riche/industrial class, who wanted ways to display their wealth and distinguish themselves from the middle classes. I've heard that the aristocracy in England still view fish knives as coming out of that tradition and therefore as being "bourgeois" and not used by them.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                            What, don't you have any strawberry forks, MMRuth?


                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                              That is exactly what I have read.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                There may be something to that, but with a tweak at least in the US: the issue of staff, or lack thereof. For the US without a tradition of having an army of staff serve meals, new implements became popular way of being a technological substitution for that refinement.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                  In FRance, fish knives and forks are always used. In restaurants, and by aristocrats and bourgeois alike.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                    Nah they were conjured up by Williams-Sonoma!

                                                                                                                                                                    Now, the idea of "fish knives" comes from the more "hearty" smell of fish. These also do not call for a sharper knife, to cut them, if they are prepared well. When done, these are cleared from the table, and a more traditional knife is placed on the table for the "meat-course."


                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Eat_Nopal


                                                                                                                                                                    Bite your tongue. OK, the British do not hold any right, with regard to culinary excellence, but the UK has some of the best dining on Earth. It might not be UK-fare, but I've had some of the best (fill in the ethnic variation) dining in London, than any other place in the world. Yes, J. Sheekey's, the Woolsley and some other UK-grub spots fall far short, still, London has more great spots, than does Las Vegas, and is almost on par with Paris.

                                                                                                                                                                    Besides, the "Book of Great UK Chefs," no longer has only blank pages...


                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                      Yeah but that is all recent all the tableware & rules generally comes from the Victorian era & prior.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                        The appalling British food syndrome occupied the period from the end of the first world war to about the end of the sixties. This was an era of depression. That period still lives on in people's minds as memories and stories.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                            My travels there began much later, but all that we have had (very, very few exceptions) has been excellent. This encompasses the spectrum from "typical British fare," to full continental, plus many wonderful ethnic restaurants, and not all from the "colonies."

                                                                                                                                                                            I recently heard reference to that "appalling British food," and realized that the reporter had obviously never dined in London, or if he had, had missed all of the highlights.

                                                                                                                                                                            One of my biggest joys is to dine, when in London, or its environs. Absolutely fantastic food - again, full-spectrum.


                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                              Hunt, you have a lot of money, so eating well anywhere will never be a problem for you.

                                                                                                                                                                              I've also travelled and eaten, and, living in the UK, I am aware that good things can be found. But at a serious cost. London is great, and some other cities have some foods on offer, but broadly speaking-- if your funds are not copious, the pickings are slim.

                                                                                                                                                                              And I won't go into how unfortunate things are for those who really like vegetables, especially when headed North.

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                                                                          If you are eating your meal in Dubai please use the right hand only.

                                                                                                                                                                          In Korea you may use a spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                          And so on...

                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                          Karl_S is right on target. Asian and Arab countries are frequently offended by American ignorance of protocol or even basic good manners. This hurts us diplomatically and in business not to mention just in human terms.
                                                                                                                                                                          There are objective rules. They are not hard to research and learn. Making them up confuses others which is rude. Following the rules is a sign of respect for everyone, especially the vulnerable, as Karl points out.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                            > There are objective rules.

                                                                                                                                                                            Poppycock. The "rules" of etiquette are no more objective than the spellings "color" vs. "colour." They are cultural constructs of Western European Renaissance nobility whose purpose was to define the boundaries between the "cultured" "civilized" elites and the "uncouth" "barbaric" masses. That they have been adopted as diplomatic conventions says more about the history of Western colonialism and cultural imperialism than it does about their alleged "objectivity": a fact amply iillustrated by the European practice of conveying food to the mouth with the left hand.

                                                                                                                                                                            The fact is—as any competent cultural historian or cultural anthropologist knows—that in pre-Renaissance Europe, as in much of the non-Western world today, conveying food to the mouth with the left hand is taboo since the right hand was/is used for conveying food while the left hand was/is used for personal hygiene. Renaissance nobility adopted the practice of conveying food to the mouth by the left hand in order to mark their "superiority" over their social "inferiors": a practice that helped maintain the integrity of their social class against the upward mobility of the emerging merchant class by immediately and unmistakably marking those "in the know" from the ignorant masses.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mclaugh

                                                                                                                                                                              I don't know what "objective" would mean in that conetxt, but many cultures have arbitrary rules of table etiquette and if you don't know and follow them, it's possible you might offend someone.

                                                                                                                                                                              But I can't believe many Americans would be offended by someone using their fork with their left hand.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mclaugh

                                                                                                                                                                                The general purpose of this is based on a right-handed world. It was assumed that if one had their right hand occupied with the consumption of food, it was less likely to hold a dagger, or maybe a Colt 1911 45 ACP semi-automatic...

                                                                                                                                                                                Me, I want my guests to know that I am not holding a dagger, or a Colt 45. They are amongst friends!


                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                              The fallacy of this thesis is the erroneous equation of "standardized" with "objective." The fact that a given behavios has evolved to the point of becoming an expected norm of social behavior in no way grants it the status of "objectivity." The fact that the "rules" of acceptable social behavior evolved and continue to evolve, and the fact that the norms of expected social behavior vary from culture to culture, and even subculture to subculture, demonstrates that they are no more than social conventions, and therefore every bit as much the expression of someone's subjective standards of what is "right" or "proper" as one's preference for Coke to Pepsi, or "wet" ribs to "dry."

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mclaugh

                                                                                                                                                                                You are correct, mclaugh, that rules evolve but when people of good will meet on common ground they have common expectations whether it be Roberts Rules of Order, Hoyle, the Rules of Golf, Major League Baseball's rules as opposed to T-Ball or whatever.
                                                                                                                                                                                Everyone has been faced with an etiquette dilemmma at some point whether it be at the table of a king or in a humble hut but the key is handling it gracefully without calling attention to oneself. This doesn't give license to pick up a drumstick in your fingers because it's your "preference."
                                                                                                                                                                                But as many a politician has learned to his pain, when he's in a "subculture," he better pick up that fried chicken in his fingers or there go the votes.
                                                                                                                                                                                It is about being sensitive to other people and the playing field.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                                  A glance at a various web sites that talk about American v Continental styles (such as business school interview help sites), suggests that both are accepted in the US, though outside of the US it is wiser to go Continental.

                                                                                                                                                                                  It also appears that the fork came into common use about the time of the American Revolution. It first became widespread among the pasta eating Italians. The English and colonial offspring were slow to adopt the fork. So Americans were establishing their own identity at about the time that the Continental rules became established.


                                                                                                                                                                          2. re: MakingSense

                                                                                                                                                                            You are correct in this. Now, I learned from a DAR mother, and attended many classes in etiquette along the way. Still, the Deep South was far removed from Europe. When my wife received an appointment from the Queen, we hired a protocol advisor, just for a tune up. Not a bad idea, because, as you mention, some aspects have fallen into disfavor, or have been entirely overlooked. While I had 90% of it down, there were some aspects, that I had not considered. It was well worth the cost, and the effort. Now, my Caterpillar baseball cap did look out of place with my full-formal attire in a Court dinner, but at least Britain did not bomb the US. They may wished to do so, but held off.


                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                              Apparently you can now buy baseball caps in the UK with the peak at the back. The Brits are adopting US cultural standards without ever having seen a game of baseball. Ice hockey attire hasn't quite made the grade yet.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                Hm-m, of all of the possible exports, that would not be high on my list.

                                                                                                                                                                                OTOH, even when in the UK, I do not adopt a trilby, regardless of how popular they might be there. I still wear my fedoras.

                                                                                                                                                                                Instead of backward baseball caps, maybe we should try some great Zins?


                                                                                                                                                                          3. I suppose I should, for full disclosure, state that I eat European style because that's how I was raised.

                                                                                                                                                                            What I find kind of surprising me about this thread is the hostility some seem to direct to this style of eating (as indicated by the use of words like "maw" "smash" and "shovel"-- as opposed to those who gingerly place their wrist on the table while looking on disapprovingly at the "frenchies"). Then again, it's the internet, so hostilities directed to those not like one seem pretty much part for the course.

                                                                                                                                                                            To be fair, I am aggravated by those who smack their food, chew with their mouths open, precut, and have no idea how to place their silverware to signal they are finished, so I guess we all have our "things."

                                                                                                                                                                            9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                              Everyone in my family calls the French in-laws the Frenchies. It is meant affectionately.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                                                                                Even though for decades in the US and UK the term has been used perjoritively?

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                  The term can be derisive or affectionate depending on the context.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: JMF

                                                                                                                                                                                    Seriously? Well, the French relatives are not aware of this. I have no idea whether the Americans in family are, either. As far as I know we all (French and Americans) think the French(ies) are much cooler than the rest of us. As I posted, the French think we eat oddly, not the other way around.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm posting kind of late in response here, but in my family, the term was hardly affectionate, and more along the lines of alienating.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't mean to imply that you mean it in a pejorative way, but I do hope that now those here understand that it can be interpreted that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                                                                                    In the UK it is also a synonym for condoms.

                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                                    Why should precutting food aggravate you? Smacking their lips or chewing with mouths open is understandable as it is seen or heard by you, but precutting? What difference does that make to you?

                                                                                                                                                                                    I guess you better not come to Japan where everything is precut as a matter of course. You'd be apoplectic.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Orchid64

                                                                                                                                                                                      I think you misunderstood what the OP meant by "precut". Yes, in Japan, the food is usually cut BEFORE it is cooked or assembled, which means it arrives at the table in mostly bite size pieces, perfect for use with chop sticks. (I will note that whole pieces of fish are rarely precut, as they are easy to take apart with chop sticks.)

                                                                                                                                                                                      I believe the OP meant the practice of receiving your steak/chop/roast etc. in one large piece on your plate, and then cutting it into a number of smaller pieces before shifting fork into right hand and beginning to eat. I believe this latter style is only excusable if you are under five years old, physically disabled, or injured (broken wrist, for example).

                                                                                                                                                                                      I was always taught that the fork was held tines down when you're holding your knife, and that when you placed your knife down, you turn your fork tines up. If I'm eating soft or chunky foods, like mashed potatoes, vegetables, etc., I usually place my knife down, and eat solely with my fork. However, with roast beef or turkey, for example, I will cut a small piece of meat, push some mashed potatoes or stuffing on the fork, and then dip in gravy or cranberry before I eat it. However, since Mom was a stickler for proper table manners, this is done discreetly, and could no way be construed as "shovelling".

                                                                                                                                                                                      And, as jfood noted a long time ago in this thread, turning the fork tines up and using one's knife to push the last few peas, grains of rice, or whatever, on to your fork is certainly more efficient; still would have earned me a smack from Mom, though!

                                                                                                                                                                                  4. I had no idea there was a different style then the "European"...that just seems to be what came normal to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. As a kid I always found the business switching the fork from hand to hand pointlessly complicated, and rejected my relatives' attempt to teach me to do it. I was gratified to learn later than it was a peculiar American custom.

                                                                                                                                                                                      I can't imagine noticing which hand somebody else uses to hold their knife or fork, let alone being bothered by it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                                                                                                                                                        I only notice when they're graceless about laying down the knife.

                                                                                                                                                                                        "This roast chicken is --" *CLANK* " -- wonderful," *TINKLE* "Mr. Lauriston..." *CLANK*.

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. For whatever reason - American and European knitting techniques differ in the same way as the utensil techniques ... have always wondered if there were a link.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                          I learned the European way of knitting and crocheting - MUCH faster and more efficient than the American style. Can't imagine how the latter developed - surely there was no motivation to slow down the process!

                                                                                                                                                                                          But I grew up eating American style, so I switch to European if I want to slow myself down, which happens because I have to concentrate on what I'm doing.

                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't know the fork's history but as the decoration is on the concave side it would seem they were intended to primarily be used that side up.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Do Europeans use sporks......? ? ?

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious


                                                                                                                                                                                            Every summery I go cycle-camping in Brittany and always my spork is with me:


                                                                                                                                                                                            This is the very one .

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Just to toss this in: how you hold your chopsticks can often tip off where you're from...and some of the same snob stuff comes with that.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I basically eat the European way, after 6 years living there. I remember the amusement of my Austrian family during my first few meals with them. I don't consider myself a slow eater, but I could never understand why I they were always finished so much faster than I was. They finally asked my why I kept putting the knife down and realized why. Somewhere along the line I adopted the European method, but revert to type on certain kinds of food.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I think many Americans who eat "European" style also have Francophile/Anglophile/Europhile leanings in other ways to (I sure do!) Conversely, my Yankophile British ex-boyfriend always made a point of eating the "American" way, and said it was much more natural and easier (he was an American Studies major.)

                                                                                                                                                                                              Are there other countries that eat the "American" way?

                                                                                                                                                                                              4 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: writergirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                And if not, why do we do it? Where did our custom come from?

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: writergirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Are you asking in regard to the practice of common person or those schooled in the niceties of diplomatic and/or "business formal" etiquette?

                                                                                                                                                                                                  During my time as a grad student at the University of Toronto, I observed that the overwhelming majority of my profs and fellow grad students employed the "American" style in informal settings but that many employed the "European" style at formal events.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: mclaugh

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I meant commonly. For example, I've never noticed how folks in say Mexico, Central America, or the Caribbean eat. I don't know if they use European or American...are we the only nation that eats this way?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: writergirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My husband is Dominican, and most Dominicans/Latin Americans that I know eat the European way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I eat the American way simply because I am strongly right-handed, and my left hand is too dumb to be trusted to direct food to my mouth. I've been switching hands my whole life, and I cannot retrain my left hand, although I have tried. That said, European husband of course uses European style, and I always thought that looked nicer. Some people think it looks awkward to have 2 hands on the table, but I actually think it looks way more awkward to be switching hands all the times. When I eat with my husband's family or outside the U.S., I always feel particularly bumbling as I switch hands after every bite, and everyone else eats fluidly. So I am pro-European style, even though I use the American style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I'm a leftie.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    Fork in right hand, knife in left. No switching.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    I did adopt this style after travelling around the world when I was younger. But since I'm left handed, I need to use the knife with my dominant hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                    9 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: mamamia

                                                                                                                                                                                                      Another leftie here. I always hold my fork in my left hand and cut with my right. Never really thought about the different "styles" of eating. This is what works.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamamia

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now THAT seems weird to me! I'm a leftie too and my mother insisted that I should learn to use my fork with my left hand and my knife with my right (yes, at the same time...) so that I could eat the same way everyone else did.
                                                                                                                                                                                                        Which hand do you use for a spoon? I use my left for that because I don't trust my right hand to successfully convey liquids to my mouth without pouring them down my front! :P

                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Kajikit

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I think maybe i wasn't clear here - I hold my fork in my left and my knife in my right. Just like you do. I also use my left to hold a spoon.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mamamia

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I am totally messed up. A leftie who was made to write right-handed in school. I hold my fork in my left hand and my knife in my right. I hold spoons in my left hand, too. (And also chopsticks, though I learned some years ago some people consider that gauche. Haven't been able to reteach myself to use the right hand for them, though.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: decolady

                                                                                                                                                                                                            "my left hand and my knife in my right. I hold spoons in my left hand, too. (And also chopsticks, though I learned some years ago some people consider that gauche"

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Gauche as in leftie? haha.
                                                                                                                                                                                                            Traditionally holding chopsticks with the left hand is not so much frowned upon as being viewed as inconvenient for one's left-hand-side neighbor in a round table. Gauche, peut-être.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                                                                                              "Gauche as in leftie? haha."

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Yes, there is a joke in there. When I read it, I had to laugh.


                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: decolady

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why would it be gauche to use your natural hand when eating? Whoever told you that is decidedly douche.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            3. When I first read your question, I thought you meant:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. American-style (in front of the TV or at the counter before rushing to softball practice)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. European-style (2 leisurely hours at the table and copious amounts of table wine)


                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: interference

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, if THAT's what it means, I always want to eat European-style. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. My family is from Europe, as am I and we - at least most of the time -eat American. When we first came to this country, it was very important for my parents to learn to eat American style so they would fit in. I was a young child, so I was taught to eat this way as well. Now, depending on what I'm eating and on how "proper" I need to be, I'll eat the style that is the most comfortable for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Depends on what I'm eating or where I'm eating (I do as the Romans); otherwise, Continental.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I've always thought that unless you were European, eating in that style in America was pretentious. My experience has been that people who have adopted the European style of eating spent some time in Europe and think it is more enlightened to eat that way.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Scagnetti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It may be pretentious in some cases, but if you've learned to eat that way, as I did as an American raised in Europe, it simply becomes the way you eat and the way you are comfortable eating. For whatever reason, my parents, who are about as far from pretentious as you can get, came to eat that way and tht's how we were taught. It could be that they didn't want us to "stick out" amongst our European school mates etc.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Scagnetti

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        But most left-handed people hold their fork with their left hand and their knife in their right. This is not being pretentious, this is necessity. So, now assuming that you see me dining out and have no idea who I am, you are going to go with your assumption that I am pretentious?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: flourgirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Hm. Lefty German here. Lefty means for *me* = cutting with my left hand, even though you're supposed to have the fork in the left and the knife in the right hand. This is how silverware is placed on the table. Oh, and I also hold the spoon in my right hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Was also taught to have both hands on the table. Having lived in the U.S. for quite a while now, I've gotten used to having one hand in my lap most of the time, though I still use BOTH hands for the silverware.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sports, OTOH -- racket, bat, and otherwise, I play with my right hand. Go figure. I guess that means I'm ambidextrous...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I think that the European custom of having both hands above the table may have evolved from medieval times for defensive purposes. In those times, it was the best way to make sure your guest or neighbor is not doing anything suspicious like pulling out a dagger or putting poison in your drink.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In fact, there are a lot sayings regarding thing being above or under the "table" in reference to honesty/dishonesty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Over time, it probably developed into a more innocuous custom to signify class or education.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: mielimato

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          of course, in medieval times they had no forks. ;)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Food was carved with one's personal knife (gents carved for the ladies) and then eaten delicately with only the thumb and two forefingers. Medieval texts on etiquette also ask that diners refrain from spitting or blowing one's nose at the table.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Suddenly, I am very glad to be left handed :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. A lot of historians surmise that the custom of holding the knife in the right hand in the Continental style is because the majority is right handed and therefore that's the stronger hand for cutting, Janet. You poor lefties!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Continental style seems to be the norm in those sections of the world I've visited where people use knives and forks although proficiency declines with education and background just as it does in the US.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Foreigners who have been to the US or know a lot of American probably know most use a different style. But if we're "over there" and encounter less sophisticated people, they might just think we're clods so we should have pretty good manners otherwise.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Fortunate, in the US meritocracy, we can learn good manners. Major corporations are paying consultants to teach their executives because they recognize the importance. There are classes and books. A lot of people grew up when etiquette was being ridiculed or considered oudated and prissy.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How many business deals or personal relationships have been lost over dinner tables or cultural faux pas?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. European (in Kentucky, no less).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Anyone read Mike Royko's take on eating styles?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: mamaciita

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've not ... is it something available on line? I'll google, but if you have a link would certainly be interested in checking it out.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. American. I do live here after all. My husband uses British (i.e. European) because he had a British nanny. I don't care either way but I hate that he doesn't place his knife and fork in the American style when he is done. It confuses the waitstaff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: JudiAU

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  What is the American Style for placing the knife and fork after being done?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Obviously I have no idea what JudiAU's husband does, but my understanding is that one places the utensils together at 4 or 6 o'clock - and I'm sure 5 o'clock would do as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      That's what I do also. I just wasn't aware this was the "American Style".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      What's the European style for indicating that you're done with the meal then?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: eatfood

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I place knife from 10 to 4 and fork from 2 to 7 -- crossing -- to indicate I'm finished.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'm Canadian and I'm not the only one around here that does this -- is this "European" style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In American restaurants, most diners will leave their fork and knife parellel across the plate when they are finished. Crossed utensils mean that the diner is not yet finished. When I waited tables, we were actually taught this (this was also many years ago, when waitstaff were actually trained). This is something most diners do unconsciously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          That said, I have no idea whether what you do when you are finished eating is considered a European habit. I do know that my Italian and husband's Canadian family keep their fork in the right hand and eat "tines down" when they are finished cutting. This is what I have been told is "European" style. Oddly, I understand that it was used as a way of identifying spies during WWII. Interesting, since many residents of the NYC boroughs would have been suspected of being spies if this is was a considered a key indicator.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Atahualpa

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Well, I'm Canadian, and I worked in restaurants for many years. Parallel cutlery placed at an angle across the plate is universally considered "I'm done"; any thing else means "Not yet". Even if I encountered a diner who had done as you suggest, I would ask "All finished?" before removing the plate (he might have wanted another piece of bread), and before doing so, I would have adjusted the cutlery into the proper mode just to send a silent lesson.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Grew up using the American style, switched to the more efficient European style once I started travelling a little. Still can't eat peas as efficiently as my British friends; that balancing of little bits of food on the back of a curved fork is a challenge for me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I believe American etiquette calls for the knife and fork to be laid at 8 o'clock and 4 o'clock respectively if you're still eating, laid side by side at 4 o'clock on the plate when you're done, but plenty of servers don't understand these signals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My country cousins are highly amused by my eating style. Of course, they chew tobacco and wear jorts.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MC Slim JB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pcwd, I also am a right hander who eats "left-handed" European style. Why people would use a fork in their non-dominant hand confuses me, and it's not like I'm having to cut down a tree with my left hand. It has been a topic of much debate in my family ever since I started eating at the dinner table, but it's good to see that someone else on the planet does this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. I am 100% right handed for everything I do, but I eat lefthanded European style - knife left, fork right, never switch. And when I'm done, fork and knife are put side by side at 4 o'clock.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Someone mentioned what you can tell from the use of chopsticks. Native chopsticks users have told me that the higher up you go, the more skilled you are, and as a total novice who holds the chopsticks very close to the food, I believe this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pcwd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ...and then there's the entire business of the different ethnicities using different lengths of chopsticks...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: PseudoNerd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          ...and different materials (wood, plastic -- metal, ai ya).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. re: pcwd

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          As I was reading the post, I was starting to think I was alone in this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        3. I eat European style, but unfortunately, many Americans are unfamiliar with it and occasionally give me rude looks, as if my manners are terrible! I'm not saying that my manners are impeccable, but I've eaten in haute cuisine restaurants in Europe on business and am quite familiar with the European method. It's just more comfortable to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. American style, because I'm American and that's how I learned.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. That's amazing. I had no idea there even was an American style and I have been living here, albeit in Canada, for over two years now. Back in the old country (which for me is the UK and Germany) we were told that hands belonged on the table at all times. Fork in left hand, knife in right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              All of my Canadian friends eat the same way, but then most of them have immigrant parents (from Europe) themselves so that might explain that.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I use American Style, but I was raised with military dining etiqutte. You know the drill, sit up straight, left hand down, never elbows onthe table, no reaching ask for something to be passed, never cut more than one piece of meat at a time, (for years I thought this was so horrible if I saw this) no holding the knife with the thump up in the left hand)and not clanking your knife when setting it down. Placing the utensils properly when finnished and then asking to be excused, oh and don't forget to tuck your chair in. Very rigid. Well I don't do anyof that anymore, and I envy those that use the European style, to me it looks classy, and certainly in no way view does it look like "shoveling" food in. The only peeve, is when I see someone "hunching" about 2 inches over their food. And I've seen both women and men do this.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As far as shoveling goes, American Style eaters have PLENTY of offenders. If you want to see that, just go to an all you can eat buffet-or brunch. You'll see some pretty fast American Style weilding of a fork and knife there! Not to mention the talent of being able to stack as much food on ones plate as possible without spilling a drop.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                But since we're talking styles, I really like the filipino method, spoon and fork. I've even tried this one myself. Not too long ago I found the article in the paper about the youngster in Canada that was "punished" for eating his food this way. It was written that had been "warned" once before and he would be punished doing it again and he did, out of habit not defiance. Geez! It is the way he was trained and part of his culture! This was downright disgraceful. You would think the "adults" in an academic setting would know better. Shame on them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As for using chopsticks, I think what bugs me mostly when dining out and watching families with kids, parents have a great opportunity to teach their children about the Japanese culture and the proper way to use chopsticks. A few years ago I took my boys to Chinatown-Oakland, they were young, and we walked around all of the markets, restaurants with ducks hanging to dry, fish markets with fish jumping out of their containers and we would all the different smells and see all the different things. While there I bought them their own little chopsticks, and spoons because I cook Chinese food at home.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                After that when we would go out for Chinese food, and there were other children playing the drums with their chopsticks, my kids were shocked. Even as young as 5 years old, they knew that that was incorrect.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                European or American Style, scooping with bread or a fork and spoon, I just think we can all learn from each other and enjoy each others techniques.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I never really thought about it before.. i usually eat the american way, although sometimes i eat european, depends on the setting and how formal it is i guess. my mother is european, and i think she eats that way, ...i will have to go eat something to be sure, because i never really thought about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  come to think about it..i usually cook things that don't really need to be cut and i use chopsticks!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Don't know how this thread came back, but:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Chopsticks: hold at the back end, not down towards the tips.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My ethnocentricsm: don't want my kids to put food in their mouths with a tablespoon and fork at at the same time as in the Philippines.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Serving yourself w/ chopsticks: use the butt end.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    4. Eating with hands in Africa and Asia: practice with cold cooked rice until you look cool.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    5. European or American: doesn't matter as long as you do what you do properly.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I think it was Easton's fault. (grin, just kidding)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My European parents pushed me hard to learn how to properly hold my fork and pens/pencils. Somehow they, and I, missed the fact that I grew up holding my fork in my right hand and my knife in my left. I can't even cut with my right hand now (and I'm right-handed). It wasn't until my 20s when I noticed that I was backwards.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. European - two years of living in Germany & it makes so much more sense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I eat American style ... but my son naturally eats Euro style.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He's a lefty.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. European style. Knife in right, fork in left.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. To point out a fact that I don't see mentioned, American-style is actually the older and more traditional of the two styles. Continental-style was introduced by the British around 1880, but Americans were trying to instill manners on their frontiersmen. The new dining methods were rejected as disruptive in the middle of this teaching process. American society felt it would diminish respect for the strict rules that were being established to remove the barbarian image.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Personally I prefer the medieval method of using a knife for everything, instead of either American or Continental. Much more fun! Then there is the all-purpose spork. For some dinners with friends, I use my set of silver sporks (yes, they do make silver sporks now). Lightens the mood a bit I think!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I grew up in the U.S. but am of Asian origin. I grew up eating with either chopsticks or a spoon. It wasn't until I was well into adulthood that I ever thought consciously about how I used utensils. From this vantage point, I find both American and Continental style odd. I think different foods just by their very nature require you to adjust your "style" sometimes. Logically, it makes sense to me. Usually, what seems rude or weird is just a matter of having to get accustomed. All ancillary judgments aside, I think whatever works and doesn't make you look like an ass or make others around you feel like an ass is the "right" style. If I'm eating a steak, it seems ludicrous to cut a piece of meat and switch hands every single time you take a bite, not to mention laborious and distracting. On the other had, it also seems ludicrous to push "smushy" food onto the back of a fork tines down. Because I never had any particular style forced on me, if you will, my own style evolved naturally. For what it's worth, I usually eat with a combo European/American style. Sometimes, I keep the tines up when "shoveling" food in with my left hand when it's more convenient, but I always stab food tines down. If I'm eating something that requires just a little cutting from time to time, I do switch the utensils back and forth so that my dominant hand does most of the shoveling. There are so many things that were pertinent in the past that would be considered too rigid today if applied, table etiquette being one of them IMHO. Then again, perhaps I've been offending everyone with my slovenly eating habits all these years, and they have been too mindful of their own etiquette to point it out to me.... :) .... Truth be told, even I find the fist around the fork thing a bit, I don't know, lacking???

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: hch_nguyen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting. I was born in Canada to a Canadian mother (Scottish extraction) and Finnish father, and they taught me to eat "European style". I didn't encounter "American style" until I went to university. I did a quick unscientific poll of friends, and only one Canadian eats "American style". Of the non-Canadians (two British, one NZ, one French, one Dutch), all eat European style. I wonder whether in Canada the difference in styles might be regional or socio-economic. That said, the Canadians polled are from BC, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland. I don't know... grasping at straws here (with both hands).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm like Lucia. My right hand is dominant. But, when eating with a knife and fork, I keep the fork in my right hand, and cut with the knife in my left hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Here I am in my 20's, realizing I'm a weirdo..... ah well, as long as no one is offended :).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: 4Snisl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      lol, i feel better having read this, as this is what i do, too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. After 32 years with my parents, well maybe 31 at the time, I realized I ate different than them. It was a holiday meal last year and I noticed my parents ate different handedly than I or my sis or my bro-in-law. I asked about it at the time..not knowing that it might be different across the pond. My mom is a first generation North American, born and raised in Montreal. My Dad is second generation born and raised in the Bronx, but I guess early on (they have been together forty years) he picked up my Mom's habits. So, at this meal a year ago, and me at the age of 31, my Mom explained that her way was the proper way. I couldn't help but wonder why it took her over thirty years to teach me this lesson. I guess it shows that parenting is not always perfect, yet never stops.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Justpaula

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I've been trying to learn European flatware usage, but am terribly uncoordinated. I feel like I'm opening my mouth too wide to accomodate the upside-down fork, even with small bites. I'm also terrible with chopsticks, but trying. Does it really matter? I'm very surprised that so many people think American utensil usage is improper or gross. Everyone in my huge extended family eats this way, even the ones direct from Ireland.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        ED: And how do you scoop things with your fork in the left hand? I don't want to have to stab each individual corn kernel.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. well.. bugger me backwards with a spoon!!! I didn't even know there WAS any other way...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        fork in left hand, tines down, knife in right hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If pausing and not finished, knife and fork (tines UP) resting at edges of the plate, parallel to each other NEVER pointing out from the edges like wings (a clear sign of poor breeding according to Mater Beige).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        When finished, the knife and fork (tines down) are placed together or slightly crossed in the 6 o'clock position.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Soup bowls are ALWAYS tilted away from the diner and the soup spoon is scooped from the centre to the back and the reverse is true for desserts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: purple goddess

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          <<Soup bowls are ALWAYS tilted away from the diner >>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Not if you drink directly from the soup bowl.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          And that is done in some places.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Paulustrious

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes - that is why cream soup bowls have handles.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Having had a moustache for almost 50 years, i can understand why I eat soup, as I do - no drinking from the bowl for this guy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Once, a young lady invited me over to meet her parents. Her dad changed the menu and did a chicken stew. He confided in me that he did it to see how I handled it with my facial hair. Not sure if I passed, but she found a better guy, so we'll likely never know.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. Fork in Left Hand
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Tortilla Rolled up in the Right Hand
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Knife on Deck for the Right Hand
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Both arms on the table at all times.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This is the only sane way to do it... any other method is stoopid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Right hand, no utensils- S indian food
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Spoon right hand + Fork left hand- SE Asian +filipino food

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I'm right handed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Fork in my right hand and knife in my left - no switching. I'm actually pretty good at using my knife in my left hand. I normally keep both hands on the table, holding both utensils - I know some of you may balk at this as it being bad manners (hand not in lap), but I find it helps me eat MUCH neater.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Not sure what's proper for setting down utensils - normally I have my fork (tines up) at 4:00 and my knife at 8:00 if I'm still eating....and both at 4:00 (fork tines down) if I'm finished.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Now I'm curious to break out the Emily Post book...

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: hypertomatoes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I recall that on his TV show the Frugal Gourmet said the proper way to indicate that you are finished with your plate is to place the utensils across the top of the plate, between 10 and 2 o'clock., fork tines pointing down, and knife point, at 10. Problem is, few servers seem to know this signal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. We're vegan so rarely use knives. If we do for some reason, we sometimes eat European style.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Fork in left hand, knife in right. Except when pushing food onto the fork with the knife, when it's the other way around. But when using a fork and a spoon, the fork is back to the left hand, pushing food to the spoon. But the spoon moves to the left hand when there are chopsticks in the right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My favorite table manners permutation was at a Japanese - Hawai'ian place that provided chopsticks and a steak knife. Hold the chopsticks in the right hand and pin down a pork chop while cutting off bite-sized pieces with a knife held in the left hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Seriously, just acquaint yourself with local customs and taboos and do your best from there. There's nothing inherently wrong with putting your hand in your lap, choking up on your chopsticks, resting your wrist on the table, or using your left hand to pick up food. Be aware, but not uptight. Unless you're in a situation where protocol will affect the balance of world power, what more could your tablemates want?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. For big pieces of meat I'll use a knife and fork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    For almost everything else, it looks ridiculous to constantly hold a knife in your dominant hand

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My wife most often uses the European-style, while I am more a "Western," or "American-style" eater.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, we do adopt more of a Euro-centric bent, with regards to courses, etc. I cannot imagine having the cheese-course, until the end of the meal. The salad-course can go either way. Personally, I like an intermezzo, in lieu of the European salad-course placement in the meal, but can easily live with either. Since I pair lighter white wines with the salad-course, having it earlier often works better in the flow of wines - but, I can live with its placement wherever.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Back to your original question, when entertaining guests in the UK, I know that some look upon me as a "colonial." However, I am gracious, have provided wonderful wines, and they overlook my "Western" habits. I also feel that conversation around dinner is a blessing. I do not feel comfortable with the European style of handling the utensiles. It's almost as though dining is to be 100% of the evening, and relaxed conversation should not be indulged. Hey, I'm from the Deep South, where everything is slow.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      PS, sorry to go off-topic on the course order in meals.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. oh...I just thought it depended on whether you are right handed or not. I guess I eat European style... You do more stuff with your fork and since I'm a leftie I use my left hand to hold it. All the right hand has to do is saw...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. If I'm eating something that needs cutting, European style. But as my family hails from Indonesia, fork & spoon is what we use most of the time -- fork in left hand, spoon in right. Any other way of eating would just be ridiculously inefficient, as much of our meals consist of something stew-like on rice on a plate. Wet rice is just easier to eat with spoons.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Continental style here.. I didn't even know there was another style til my late twenties... I don't really care which style my fellow diners use though as long as they follow the customs of that style its all good.. For example I find it kind of lazy for ppl using the American style to use the edge of their fork to cut softer foods to keep from picking up their knife . crazy I know but I notice these things.. I had the continental style drilled into me as a child by my grandparents .. Their explainations about how you place your fork and knife were as follows.. if you want to set them down while eating but wish to indicate you are not done eating.. the fork tines down with the handle pointing to the leftt at about 8 o'clock and the knife handle to the right blade towards the diner at 4 o'clock.. .. if you wish to indicate you are done.. knife and fork beside each other on the right hand side.. handles face out at approx 4 o'clock .. knife farthest away with blade facing towards you ..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            the reason for the handles to be on the right hand side is that "proper service " LOL is to serve from the left and clear from the right.. It lets the server pick up the empty plate with one hand and place their thumb over the handles of the silverware to hold them in place. It is actually a pretty practical reason and keeps the silverware from sliding all over the plate. I think I have only ever been to one restauarant around here where the waitstaff actually knew what it meant and served "properly" My wife was quite confused at first she thought the server had been rude for not asking me if I was done first before clearing my plate.. LOL I had to explain as I hadn't even thought about it when it happened.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ashen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I am right handed, American, and was raised to eat American style, including using the fork to cut whatever you're able. It's just habit. I have seen people use a knife to cut a fish fillet and it's just silly. On the other hand..heh-heh...my daughter is left handed and a dual citizen and spends time there, so I'm okay with her going Euro. Or not. Getting a child to chew with their mouths closed seems to be a chore.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We eat at a table, with linen, but often have to plan the meal around the practices.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I've never heard of cutting with one's fork rather than a knife as "American." I thought it was just plain wrong.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It's my understanding that it is proper to cut fish with the side of one's fork, unless a knife is actually required to do so.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, my understanding also. Is that when we use the fish fork? I loved having Dover sole "prepared" tableside in Brugge.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Depending on where one is dining, a fish knife is often provided. It is often placed at 12:00 above the plate, but not always. In some ways, it looks a bit like a larger butter knife. In other restaurants, or settings, an extra regular knife is often provided, and is usually placed inside of the dinner knife, though not always.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In general terms, it is so that any taste of the fish is not left of on any utensiles. However, if all used flatware is replaced between courses, the point might be rendered moot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Still, I use a knife (fish knife, or other) to cut my fish. I was taught to NOT cut any food with the edge of any fork. However, I see this more often nowadays, especially with softer foods, like many fish dishes. Just not MY style - right, or wrong.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. European,
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was raised with both methods. Mom American, Step-Dad Belgian. Time and experience especially during long flights have pushed me towards the more efficient method. Note that historically it is truly only a cultural difference and any inference of superiority based on the chosen method is just ignorance. The practice of eating with knife and fork came into existence in both Europe and America well after the establishment of the American colonies and our unique culture in the new world. I just prefer the European method.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I am right handed and think my answer is "neither." I hold my fork in the right and my knife in the left. I use my left hand both to cut and to guide unruly food onto the fork in my right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I guess this makes me weird! To me, it's efficient and more elegant than switching between hands. And no, I'm not ambidextrous...I've just always done it this way.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Then if you are weird, I'm weird. I am right handed and do the same as you. My mother is European, so we learned the non-switching hands method, but as a kid it never made sense to me to have the fork in my non-dominant hand. Why would I want to use my clumsier hand trying to get a pointy object into my mouth? So I started keeping the fork in my right.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ChristinaMason

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ditto here, except that, being primarily left-handed, my knife and fork are reversed. I've never done it any other way. It wasn't until I was in my 20s, at a family Thamksgiving dinner, that I actually noticed the hand-switching practice. It seemed so inefficient and clumsy that I nearly giggled. (Fortunately, politeness won out.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    After that, I started paying attention, and realized that I was in a tiny minority who DIDN'T switch hands.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. In between. I'm a right-handed American who's spent a lot of time in Europe. I consciously picked up the European approach as an adult, as I find it both more efficient and visually more elegant, but can only do it with foods that can be stabbed with the fork - e.g., pieces of meat or veg. I have not mastered the art of eating things that need to be piled on the fork, like rice or peas, with the fork in my left hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Any tips?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    15 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It helps to start with a layer of mashed potatoes or mushy peas, etc. on the back of the fork. Use this as a base to anchor other items.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Uh...hmm. I suppose that would work - as long as I remember to carry a container of mashed potatoes with me to use with dishes where they're not provided. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Actually, thinking about it - if I use the American method and transfer the fork to my right hand after cutting a bite, I can easily flip the fork tines down for stabbing or tines up for scooping. In my left hand the fork stays tines down. So maybe I need to practice flipping the fork in my left hand? Is that how most Europeans do it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          No, no, no, fork flipping is not allowed. Keep the tines down. Stab protein, Skillfully construct a little tower of other food items on the back of the fork, using the exposed edge of the protein as a ledge upon which to balance said items. (Mashed potatoes work best, though,)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I don't know what "most" Europeans might do. It is never "good manners" for us (at least in the UK) to eat with tines up - so I'd never usually do it outside the home, or if we had guests.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Not easy to describe in writing but, basically, I'd first spear some food. The tines and the food now form a sort of "L" shape, which enables you to load on the rice or whatever. It's not something I've ever really thought about.... it's just how we eat.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Oh, foo - 3 of my 4 grandparents were born in England, and we were always taught "when you have your knife in your right hand, you hold your fork with tines down. When you put the knife down, you may turn your fork tines up". So, if I'm eating pesky little buggers like peas or corn off the cob, I might use my knife and fork (tines down) to herd them into a corner, then put my knife down whilst simultaneously flip my fork over, and, tines up, marshal the little critters into my mouth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              BTW, my remaining grandparent was American, and I remember being horrified at age 4 or 5 watching him take his fork, and, grasped in his fist like a sword, plunging it into his roast beef, and then sawing back and forth with a knife to cut off some small pieces. On the way home in the car, I remarked about it, which earned me a swift cuff from Mom and the admonition "You never criticize anyone's table manners, especially your elders". So I've been silent about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Until now.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: FrankD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Well, your grandparents might have been born in England, but having lived there for a number of years, I have to say that I never saw anyone eat in the manner you describe. I think this would be considered extremely odd. The English don't put their knives down, except for a brief dab with the napkin.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                They do a little ballet with the knife and fork, resting their forearms against the table, subtly emphasizing their conversational points with a refined dip of the flatware. It's quite lovely to watch. What you describe is barbaric, by comparison.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  "What you describe is barbaric, by comparison"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Indeed. Protect us from pesky foreign customs. Whatever next. Folk will be telling me next we don't have an empire any more (St Helena, Gibralter and a couple of other red bits excepted).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Scooping, of course, goes on in the privacy of one's own home - as does soup slurping. But it's not something to be "seen" doing. Doncha know. Except, of course, at Chinese restaurants where forks are usually proffered as well as chopsticks. Good thing, too. Soup's a bugger to eat with chopsticks.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    <Except, of course, at Chinese restaurants where forks are usually proffered as well as chopsticks. Good thing, too. Soup's a bugger to eat with chopsticks.>

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    You can eat soup with a fork? You are MAGIC.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hence why the Chinese are proficient at the art of using a spoon to eat liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      *roll eyes*

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      "What you describe is barbaric, by comparison."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh? I'm watching Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares as I write this, and he definitely turns his fork tines up to scoop up risotto in this show.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So is it your contention that a Michelin star chef is a "barbarian"?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: FrankD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Absolutely. The man has no manners. We had a thread about this recently - he holds his knife as one would hold a pen. Amongst we Brits, particularly those of us who wish to be sniffy about such matters, there is nothing more to be said. I bet, privately, he also describes his evening meal as "tea".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Yes, he's probably "milk in first" as well.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: FrankD

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            No. Definitely not. "Milk first" is the "proper" way - at least that's what my late mother used to say. She reckons that it goes back to when china tea cups made in Britain were quite fragile, so you didnt pour very hot water in first which might crack it. That said, tea is a vile drink which should be consigned to the annals (or should that be anals) of history.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Kate Fox , in her book "Watching the English", has this to say on the use of cutlery...."Debrett's insists that "on no account" should you ever hold your knife like a pencil. The only possible effect your pencil-method could have on your fellow diners would be to activate their class-radar bleepers and alert them to your inferior social status. So one must asume that, for the class-conscious English, this is in itself a goof enough reason not to do it......The same goes for the prongs of your fork. "

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She continues "In recent years, the "uncouth" prongs-up style of pea eating seems to have spread further up the social scale, particularly among younger people perhaps because of increasing American influence".

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The prosecution rests, my lord/your honour (delete as appropriate).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I was taught "milk first" was a sign of working/middle class; "tea first" is sometimes used as a signifier of upper classness in English writing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Karl S

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                "I was taught "milk first" was a sign of working/middle class"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                That'll explain why Mum did it and I do it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Being English and left-handed, I eat Continental style and it never occurred to me there was another way. Having spent quite a lot of time in France, I am also partial to plate-wiping with bread. Is that considered rude in America?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            BTW, all this talk of tines up and tines down is confusing my poor, tired brain.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            11 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Plate-wiping with bread was an established tradition in my (American) family. Why would anyone want to leave traces of good stuff behind? I try to be discreet in company, but I cannot give up the practice.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I was taught to never take a bite directly out of the bread or roll. We were to tear off 1 small bit, butter if desired and then eat the bit directly from hand or place it on the plate to be dragged through the sauce with our fork. Always one peace at a time. If we were eating soup we were aloud to gently push the bit into the soup with a spoon but never to blow on the soup. Cornbread we ate with a fork and we always set down our utensil(s) in between each bite.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                There's a bit of a class aspect to the use of bread in France. An old girlfriend of mine had been married to an upper-class Frenchman for a while, and she had stories of being terrorized by his grande dame of a mother on the subject of table manners. She would not allow bread even to be on the table during the main course, let alone (quelle horreur!) used to wipe plates.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Me, I'm a bread-wiper par excellence.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  An acquaintance who was a guest at Buckingham Palace confirmed that the Queen wiped plates !
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Yes with a piece of bread.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But she was skewering the piece of bread while doing so - dunno if that's better or worse.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Yes, my husband will only do that with the bread skewered on the fork.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: MMRuth

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, that is a method that I had not thought of. Thank you. Maybe there will be fewer "daft Yank" jokes, should the guests catch me! Nice one.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Ah, oui - les Anglais. Tsk, tsk, tsk...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: greedygirl


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I have tried turning the tines both ways, and always revert to my colonial roots, but that is just me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, I was taught that bread was to ONLY be used as a "pusher," or eaten alone. However, I have to admit to you that I also indulge in the guilty pleasure of "sopping" up a fabulous sauce with a tiny bit of it. I do so, when others' attention is averted, or I yell, "look over there," and when they do, I slide my bread across the plate/bowl. When they turn back, I dab my mouth and say, "oh, that was not what I though it to be... " Little do they know.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If they manage to catch me, I'm still cool, 'cause I'm but a daft Yank," and they all pity me. [Big Grin inserted here.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    BTW - based on a much earlier thread, I have found that a few great US Zinfandels are making their way to the UK. Now, their prices are still absurd, but that's life. Maybe soon, I will no longer have to run the gauntlet of UK customs to sneak my big, bold Zins into the country. I think that I still owe you a bottle of the Biale Black Chicken Zinfandel, IIRC. Maybe we can gather in April, and I can hand it off to you. However, I want a half-pint of Thomas Hardy's Ale in exchange. [Insert bigger grin here.]


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Hey Bill, no need to mind your manners with this greedygirl, who is shameless when it comes to mopping up sauces with bread. Do drop me an e-mail when you're next in town.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Never heard of Thomas Hardy's Ale - you're obviously better informed on beer than me!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Is your e-mail in your Profile? We'll be in London in April, but I do not have the exact dates yet. We're at a flat that we let in Mayfair, as most meetings are relatively close by, but we've got the Green Park tube station just down the street.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I'll see who has Thomas Hardy's and we'll tip a pint! Like I said, I think I still have a bottle of Biale Zin for you, and will do my best to sneak it into the UK - so far, I have not been caught.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        If your e-dress is not there, I can be reached at infoAThuntphotoDOTcom. Obviously AT and DOT will have the appropriate characters, and please put "Chowhound" in the Subject, so that MailWasher does not usher it off to the trash.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It is, and I think I e-mailed you before when you were coming to London, from my work address at a well-known broadcasting corporation. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. I like this question as I reflected on how many times I've gone back and forth between the two styles. As a child, my strict first-generation American father of European parents insisted that we eat European style. But after spending more and more time with friends and relatives, I somehow picked up American style, which stuck with me and became a habit until I went to live in Europe. In France, Belgium,and Spain, I returned to European style, and now it seems that I switch back and forth between the two styles probablly depending on who I'm dining with and where I'm dining. When I was living in Belgium, a friend told me that she immediately noticed that I used European style, which seemed to surprise her.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. the one thing I often notice when dining o.o.europe: people return their used knife onto the edge of the plate with the handle touching the table. european true'table etiquette' does not permit it, one should keep ones utensils on top of the plate completely, on the outer edges, one left and right, while not in use - joining them towards right side when dining is completed.....also , do not CUT bread, break it by hand. and ALWAYS wipe your mouth before putting your glass - water/wine etc to your lips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. All this talk of forks and tines and chopsticks! I was expecting a discussion on if the salad should be served before or after the main dish!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        27 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          In the UK (and in other European countries I visit regularly) salad only ever appears as a starter (unless, of course, it's a main course salad).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            When I was in the UK, for 5 weeks, the salad always came at the end of the meal. I'd ask for it first and they thought I was weird. I now enjoy saving the salad for the end of the meal. For one thing, when I cook for myself I usually sit down with a salad and a hot protein at the same time. So I eat the protein first before it gets cold. And for some reason I think the salad at the end is better for digestion.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              What sort of places were you eating in, in the UK, where salad was on the menu at the end of a meal? I've never seen that - high, middle or low end - it's just not part of our general cuisine to serve a salad other than a starter (or alongside protein in place of vegetables)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Weird! I ate at a bistro in Leamington Spa, near where I was working. They made fun of me for wanting my salad first all the time!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  And how in the world did they make fun of you? Dance around your table sticking out their tongues chanting, "Yahh, yahh ya ya ya, Scuzzo wants his salad first eeewww phewww eeewiee!!!"? Or what?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    No they were kind. I ate 1-2 meals there everyday for 5 weeks. My no doubt Hillbilly charm must have worn them down. They probably made fun of how I used my fork too. They gave me a set of their nice bistro glasses (with the queen's blessing in the form of her crown emblazoned on them) to take with me as a souvenir. I broke one last week...broke my heart.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I had this same sort of cultural clash in Australia, where I was doing work on the National Word Festival. Whenever I asked where the trash can had been moved to, everyone cracked up -- big time. They say "rubbish bin," and "trash can" was, for some reason, terribly funny. Very nice folks, though. Every Aussie I met also though we were demented for drinking iced tea. They drink it piping hot, even when the outside temp is edging up to 100.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Weirdest thing I ever saw in England was everyone eating their burgers with a knife and fork! This was back in the '60's, so maybe with the advent of McDonalds, they've stopped doing this. Very strange.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        You wouldn't eat your burgers with a knife and fork in McDonalds, but you might in a gastropub.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          "Weirdest thing I ever saw in England was everyone eating their burgers with a knife and fork! This was back in the '60's, so maybe with the advent of McDonalds, they've stopped doing this. Very strange."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I can't recall eating burgers as far back as the 60s but it would almost certainly have been a chain called Wimpey (still in existance - just about) - which was then the only American style food outlet we had here. I do recall the first MacD coming to our city in the early 1980s and a friend saying she hadnt liked it because there was no cutlery. And,of course, she's still a snob.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    re: harteres:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I grew up in California in a first generation family (London shopkeepers/Caton estate groundskeepers) and salad always came after the main meal--always, at all family meals at home or at Aunts and Uncles' homes. I was 19 and away at college before I saw a salad served first. (we ate out maybe three times in my adolescence)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: toodie jane

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In France most of the time salad is served after main and before cheese.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      But a salade de gésiers - being more elaborate than a salad whose main purpose is just to clean one's palate - is served before main. The usual minimalist vinaigrette is also prepared differently when it is destined to go with the salade de gésiers. The SdG vinaigrette has honey among the ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  3. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I often serve a green salad after the main course - but I think that's because I've spent a lot of time in France and that's the custom there. Starter, main course, salad, cheese, dessert.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Thanks, I was wondering if I was losing my mind!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Or eating nicely plated food for a couple of hours seated at a table and enjoying the company of family or friends vs eating crap while walking or driving.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Who's got time for eating "any style" when you have to deal with all the people driving on the wrong side of the road? I eat sandwiches and hamburgers with my left hand. I can't eat and drive in the US without an automatic. In the UK I could, but I might end up on the wrong side of the road if I was paying attention to eating food. This is what this thread is about, right?
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I HATE eating in a car. Uncivilized! I want to sit down with you for a relaxed meal and not worry about how we hold our utensils. Life's too short.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ah, an interesting point. Outside of the US, I most often encounter a salad as an intermezzo in the course of the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I also find the cheese course after the main-course, and that is where I like it best. This is where I place it, regardless of which country I am dining.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Not that long ago, at a US "fine-dining" establishment, with a European-trained fromagerie, I specified that we wished our cheese-course to follow the main-course. His eyes widened, and a giant smile crept across his face. "You are my first client in many months, who understands when the cheeses should be served." He pulled out all of the stops, and had great fun, showing off all of his cheeses. Having observed the cheeses served before the meal began, it was obvious that we ended up with twice the number of cheeses, and he spent a good 10 mins. describing each one in great detail. I do not know if he enjoyed it more than I did, but it was a close contest. We hosted a meal there the next night, and upon our arrival, he stopped by and actually thanked me, mentioning that he'd be by, after the main-courses were served.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My main caterer always works with me on the cheese courses, and we predicate our selections on the wines on the table, plus the additional wines to be served with the cheeses. This is one time that I have no reservations on bringing out an appropriate, full-bodied white, though many reds might have been served before.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Thanks for pointing the thread into an appropriate, though slightly different direction.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    PS - this might post twice, as the forum is acting wonky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      A "fine dining" restaurant in the US is accustomed to serving cheeses before the main course? Maybe that's a regional thing, it would never happen in Boston. Every restaurant I've been to here that offers a cheese course has it on the dessert menu. Without exception.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now, they rarely take the old-school British approach of serving a final savory course AFTER the sweet, but they never offer cheeses to start.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This particular restaurant was located in Nashville, TN. However, I have encountered many, across the US, that consider the cheese course as a precursor to the first course. Obviously, that is where many patrons expect to find it. Obviously, you and I are not in that group.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        As for the savory course, I hardly see that, even in the UK. However, I must admit that most of the chefs, where we dine, are Continental, with some some exceptions. Good point though.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It seems pretty weird to me to have cheese at the beginning of a meal. Is that common in the US - I don't recall seeing a cheese course as a starter/appetiser when I've been in restaurants in the States (with the exception of in a first course salad, which is fine).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It is a weird Americanism - I think it grew out of the unfortunate custom of serving cheese & crackers with drinks to start the meal, which itself may have evolved from the somewhat less dubious custom of serving these at a cocktail party.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            I believe it's a phenomenon you're much more likely to find in the heartland than on the coasts, at least in better restaurants.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: BobB

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think it may be a blurring of the line between a starter course and a small plate which gets more and more popular (even here on the Left Coast) as a lot of people are trying to spend and/or eat less.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Question on the "small plates," which I love - more courses, and smaller portions - where do you encounter cheese courses, where you live?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                As I said up-thread, I think that the region and the particular restaurant might make a big difference.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                At most SF restaurants, we now see them prior to the dessert courses.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Just curious,


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  As a "course," definitely at the end of the meal. And since I'm not a sweets lover, that's my choice. We were in Sonoma over Christmas and had lunch of several small plates at the girl and the fig. One of them was a cheese selection. But we were having things like a "medley" of radishes and the like, along with a flight of red wines. So not a "course."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Odd the timing. We were just at an event at a higher-end resort. Not sure if the event committee did the order of the courses, or if others were responsible. Still, the cheese course was the first!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Now, I spent much of the night fighting the servers (remember, an event and not a dinner) for the cheese tray. In the end, my gaze was averted, and they finally succeeded in clearing it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Odd how these things work out. No sooner than I complain, and then I am confronted with this course timing.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Isn't that funny? Self-fulfilling prophecy?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: greedygirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'm with BobB. That sounds logical. At home, we did cheeses at the end of the meal, and often in lieu of dessert. I thought that was how it was done, until I began dining out in the US. Maybe my experiences were too focused in the Deep South, but I found it common. It was not until later in life, that I began to encounter restaurants, that did it "like mom."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I think that region and also restaurant will make great differences in where cheeses are offered.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. re: scuzzo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The point of eating salad after the entree is to "freshen the palate" before indulging in the sweetness of dessert. At the start of a meal, it's an hors d'oeuvres -- a little something to get the gastric juices going in readiness for the entree.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      3. Since I was raised in Europe, I use the European style. I didn't even know about the American style until one day, many years ago I checked out an etiquette book from a local library... What a shocker! That's where I found out about the different style of eating, as well as other things that where completely different from what I was tought were "good manners".
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In general, the major problem with the American style that Europeans despise (because they do, you can hear comments in restaurants) is pre- cutting the food, as well as eating with just fork, no knife. That's a big no-no. You eat everything with fork and knife, unless it's soup of course :-)))
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        And yes, I brought to the US a special fish fork and knife set because you are not supposed to touch fish with a sharp knife. It especially applies to the bone in fish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        There are even jokes about it....( the king is taking a swim in the ocean and shark attacks him . He yells for help to his servant to come and kill the shark with the knife he is holding. And the servant yells back- but sir... kill a fish with a knife? )

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        27 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: polish_girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Pre-cutting one's food is considered bad manners on both sides of the Pond.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Except when you cut up your child's food for them. I've seen that done when the child was quite capable (and old enough), so I say that's a no-no too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I agree completely. The possible exception would be one's salad. However, when that discussion came up on another board, a Michelin starred chef added that if a patron had to cut his salad, then he had not prepared it well. I got his point, but some others did not.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. re: polish_girl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              By eating without a knife, I assume you're talking about people who "cut" their food with the side of their fork. Not correct in the US either.