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Proper way to eat french fries ... etiquette question

ipsedixit May 10, 2007 09:22 PM

When fries are served with your meal, what's the proper way to eat your fries?

With your hands, or with knife/fork?

For example ...

If you order steak frites, do you eat those with your hands, even though you would use silverware to eat the steak?

But if you order a burger or sandwich that comes with fries, it would seem more than passable to eat those fries with your hands because (presumably) you would not be eating the burger using knife and fork.

So, is the rule something like this: However you eat the entree do likewise with the fries?

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  1. ccbweb RE: ipsedixit May 10, 2007 09:32 PM

    Fries are finger food. Just like oysters, sushi, and many other items that may be served at "nicer" places...there are some things that are just ok to use your fingers on. When I get steak frites (which I do a lot) I use my hands to eat the fries unless they're just soaked in whatever and will fall apart on me. I, of course, do this delicately and use my napkin frequently.

    26 Replies
    1. re: ccbweb
      downtownfoodie RE: ccbweb Jul 4, 2011 06:48 AM

      sushi is not a finger food. fries are, unless they are served with an entree where you use a fork. general etiquette states that once you use a piece of cutlery for one part of a course, it is impolite to put it down until that course is over

      1. re: downtownfoodie
        kpaxonite RE: downtownfoodie Jul 4, 2011 09:17 AM

        I have NEVER heard or witnessed that

        1. re: downtownfoodie
          TexSquared RE: downtownfoodie Jul 4, 2011 09:27 AM

          With sushi, it depends. Nigiri and hand-rolls are finger food, while maki, sashimi, chirashi, etc, are eaten with chopsticks.

          1. re: TexSquared
            Servorg RE: TexSquared Jul 4, 2011 09:29 AM

            I have a hard time eating my eel and avocado hand roll without using my hands...

            1. re: Servorg
              TexSquared RE: Servorg Jul 4, 2011 09:31 AM

              I edited the post, I forgot about the handrolls! (yeah, if it's shaped like a cone and is called HAND roll.... ) my bad!

            2. re: TexSquared
              kpaxonite RE: TexSquared Jul 4, 2011 09:32 AM

              To be specific I was referring to not putting down your fork

              1. re: TexSquared
                huiray RE: TexSquared Jul 5, 2011 07:50 AM

                @ Texsquared: Sashimi is not sushi.

              2. re: downtownfoodie
                twyst RE: downtownfoodie Jul 4, 2011 09:35 AM

                "once you use a piece of cutlery for one part of a course, it is impolite to put it down until that course is over"

                You pick up your wine glass with your fork still in hand?

                1. re: twyst
                  basketwoman RE: twyst Jul 4, 2011 09:55 AM

                  Yep, I was wondering the same thing.

                  1. re: twyst
                    small h RE: twyst Jul 4, 2011 02:31 PM

                    What if someone asks you to pass the salt? Do you bat it over with your fork?

                    1. re: small h
                      im_nomad RE: small h Jul 4, 2011 08:30 PM

                      I think nudging it over with your nose as a nod to Lady and the Tramp is clearly the way to go here.

                      1. re: im_nomad
                        small h RE: im_nomad Jul 6, 2011 05:48 PM

                        Too much potential for spillage, which is also a drawback to my original idea. Upon reflection, I think proper etiquette demands that one pick up the salt shaker in one's teeth and lean toward the recipient. If the recipient is too far away to reach by leaning, diners should pass the salt shaker mouth to mouth around the table.

                  2. re: downtownfoodie
                    pulguksa RE: downtownfoodie Jul 4, 2011 09:47 AM

                    Sushi is very much a finger food. Modern, Edo style sushi, started as a street food sold from carts in Tokyo. It would have been eaten on the run, on the way to or from work. As for french fries, I agree with the other posters that say to go with whatever you use to eat your main course.

                    1. re: downtownfoodie
                      huiray RE: downtownfoodie Jul 5, 2011 07:49 AM

                      @ downtownfoodie: Sushi is traditionally eaten with the fingers. It is in the West and in America/USA that the notion of eating sushi with chopsticks or forks seems to have common currency.

                      1. re: huiray
                        goodhealthgourmet RE: huiray Jul 5, 2011 08:23 PM

                        It is in the West and in America/USA that the notion of eating sushi with chopsticks or forks seems to have common currency.
                        sushi with a fork?

                        1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                          huiray RE: goodhealthgourmet Jul 5, 2011 08:26 PM

                          Yep. I've seen folks do it. (Sometimes after drowning it in soy sauce)

                          1. re: huiray
                            goodhealthgourmet RE: huiray Jul 6, 2011 06:56 PM


                          2. re: goodhealthgourmet
                            Tripeler RE: goodhealthgourmet Jul 6, 2011 06:14 PM

                            Here in Tokyo, some people eat sushi with chopsticks while others use their fingers.
                            No big deal, really.

                        2. re: downtownfoodie
                          josephnl RE: downtownfoodie Aug 21, 2011 03:56 PM

                          Where in the world did you ever find that rule? So you must keep your fork and knife in hand throughout your entire entree...really? How to you handle blotting your mouth with a napkin, taking a sip of wine or water...or heaven forbid you should sneeze or cough....you mean you can't cover your nose or mouth? Would love to know where this "rule" comes from?

                          1. re: josephnl
                            huiray RE: josephnl Aug 21, 2011 04:07 PM

                            Yes, it is odd, that claim of downtown... Perhaps he was thinking instead of the convention of the pieces of cutlery preferably not meeting the table/tablecloth surface after being picked up and used? One places fork & knife. for example, back on the plate, crossed, with the handles above the table surface, knife under the fork tines. I wouldn't shoot anyone who rests their knife and fork on the plate with handles on the table, though. It's a minor issue. I've done it myself. :-)

                            1. re: huiray
                              josephnl RE: huiray Aug 21, 2011 04:21 PM

                              Actually I remember reading somewhere...that in some European country (??? which one) the custom is that the fork and knife are placed next to one another if you are not yet done eating, and are crossed when you are finished...as a signal to the server that it's ok to take the plate away. Has anyone else ever heard this?

                              1. re: josephnl
                                huiray RE: josephnl Aug 21, 2011 04:24 PM

                                Not that I know of, but if it is indeed so perhaps someone else could chime in. My understanding is that one places knife and fork next to each other at an angle (oh, around the ten o'clock to four o'clock position or thereabouts when one is finished, whether in Europe or the US.

                                1. re: josephnl
                                  kubasd RE: josephnl Aug 21, 2011 04:28 PM

                                  I've heard a variation of that, where if they're parallel you were done and satisfied with the meal, but if they're crossed you were unhappy

                                  1. re: josephnl
                                    velochic RE: josephnl Aug 23, 2011 05:07 AM

                                    Interesting. I've lived in or traveled to much of Europe and I don't know where this would be.

                                2. re: josephnl
                                  Veggo RE: josephnl Aug 21, 2011 04:08 PM

                                  Do they sell mini- sneeze guards for keyboards, as they do for salad bars?

                                3. re: downtownfoodie
                                  sandylc RE: downtownfoodie Jan 16, 2012 07:56 PM

                                  "general etiquette states that once you use a piece of cutlery for one part of a course, it is impolite to put it down until that course is over"

                                  What? Are you saying that if you are using a fork that you cannot put down that fork until you have finished the course? What if you want a sip of wine? Do you have to use the wrong hand to pick up your glass? Or do you switch the utensil to your other hand to drink the wine?

                                  I have never heard of this rule and it makes no sense to me.

                              2. Quine RE: ipsedixit May 10, 2007 09:43 PM

                                Ah wish life was always so simple. Yes you can eat steak frites by hand, do I? No. I use my fork. Burger and fries, where I am not using a fork, nope, don't. Unless my din(n)er partner the Queen was using her fork then maybe to make her not stand out. *smile*

                                5 Replies
                                1. re: Quine
                                  pikawicca RE: Quine May 11, 2007 03:44 AM

                                  Agree: steak frites -- fork, burger and fries -- fingers.

                                  1. re: pikawicca
                                    feelinpeckish RE: pikawicca May 16, 2007 01:52 PM

                                    yes but with most burgers, i wind up using knife and fork for the burger to eliminate the usually bad bun and excess breadiness of the snack as a whole.

                                  2. re: Quine
                                    Godslamb RE: Quine Jul 4, 2011 09:20 AM

                                    Would the Queen actually *eat* fries?? LOL

                                    1. re: Godslamb
                                      kmcarr RE: Godslamb Jul 4, 2011 11:42 AM

                                      I recall watching a documentary about the royal yacht, Britania, before she was to be retired. While discussing food service aboard the yacht they included a segment showing the chef preparing a simple lunch for the Queen. The lunch included a side of fries,or more properly chips. I don't recall if she was shown eating the chips and if so whether or not she used her fingers.

                                      1. re: kmcarr
                                        Godslamb RE: kmcarr Jul 4, 2011 01:39 PM

                                        Well, anyone who knows anyone would know if the Queen ate with her fingers...somehow I could picture her scarfing them down when no one was looking.LOL
                                        Kudos to the chef for preparing chips!!

                                  3. f
                                    Foodie in Friedberg RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2007 12:34 AM

                                    In Germany you use a fork with you fries; at many snack stands that serve fries they have little plastic forks (they look like garden rakes for a Barbie) available for you to use. However, McDonalds here doesn't have the little forks (maybe they do if you ask for them, but they don't have them out and available). So even here, where they eat everything (including pizza) with a fork, at McDonalds you're allowed to use your fingers for fries!

                                    1. m
                                      ML8000 RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2007 01:27 AM

                                      I just go with how it's plated and served. Takes 98% of the guess work out and no one in that particular restaurant/joint should look at you weird.

                                      1. r
                                        RicRios RE: ipsedixit May 11, 2007 09:49 PM

                                        Crispy = fingers.

                                        Soggy = fork.

                                        (Entree status irrelevant)

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: RicRios
                                          macca RE: RicRios May 16, 2007 06:34 AM

                                          I think you are probably right- but I would HATE soggy fries. I know some palces serve them with gravy, or whatever. I do not eat fries that often, and when I do, I like them hot, thin and crispy with a bit of salt on them. Delicious!

                                          1. re: macca
                                            ESNY RE: macca May 16, 2007 12:50 PM

                                            Agreed. why would what your entree is affect how to eat something? If I get a salad on the side with my burger I don't pick up the lettuce with my fingers.

                                            French fries are a finger food unless they are covered with something, be it cheese, gravy, chili, etc.

                                            1. re: ESNY
                                              slacker RE: ESNY May 16, 2007 01:37 PM

                                              Agreed also. Unless I simply don't feel like getting my fingers greasy.

                                              This question sort of reminds me of the Seinfeld episode where George was eating candy bars with a knife and fork.

                                          2. re: RicRios
                                            goodhealthgourmet RE: RicRios Jul 5, 2011 08:25 PM

                                            Soggy = neither fork nor fingers because they're staying right there on the plate.

                                          3. b
                                            Bite Me RE: ipsedixit May 16, 2007 11:30 PM

                                            Fries can be eaten either way. No rule tied to the entree.

                                            1. s
                                              silence9 RE: ipsedixit May 17, 2007 10:29 AM

                                              How 'bout this rule of thumb: If the fries are ordered while *standing* at a counter (or sitting behind the wheel), then its finger food; if the fries are ordered while *sitting* at a table, then its utensil food. Put another way: if the menu is vertically situated (wall, chalkboard, drive-thru monitor), then fries are finger food; if the menu is horizontally situated (on your table), the fries are utensil food...

                                              21 Replies
                                              1. re: silence9
                                                Harp00n RE: silence9 May 23, 2007 05:32 PM

                                                So if it be Poutine, a shovel wouldn't be inappropriate so long as your in the seated position?

                                                1. re: Harp00n
                                                  pikawicca RE: Harp00n May 23, 2007 05:42 PM

                                                  I've never encountered Poutine (and never hope to, due to the cheese curds, which I abhor), but it sounds like a very gravy-ish dish that would be best handled wiht a fork. What's the traditional approach?

                                                  1. re: pikawicca
                                                    Harp00n RE: pikawicca May 23, 2007 06:22 PM

                                                    Having attempted it but once, and failed, my observations as a clinician is that the meek go the full fork route, the adventurous use a combination of fingers followed by the fork for the heart-stopping , aka "the good stuff". And the ossified? What's a fork?

                                                    1. re: Harp00n
                                                      kpaxonite RE: Harp00n Jun 29, 2011 07:26 AM

                                                      Im from Montreal and love poutine. You will NEVER see someone eat it with their hands.

                                                2. re: silence9
                                                  ccbweb RE: silence9 May 23, 2007 06:09 PM

                                                  That gets fairly close to a rule that would work, but there are always going to be exceptions. Burgermeister in SF has an outpost now in which you order while sitting at a table. But they're clearly finger food there...
                                                  For the most part, as long as they don't have significant sauce on them (cheese, gravy, what have you) I say dig in with fingers.

                                                  1. re: silence9
                                                    LeoLioness RE: silence9 Jun 29, 2011 07:45 AM

                                                    But that "rule" would mean eating fries with your hands in most bars/pubs would be inappropriate.

                                                    1. re: LeoLioness
                                                      silence9 RE: LeoLioness Jun 29, 2011 12:30 PM

                                                      OK, let's approach this from another angle: if paper napkin(s) accompany one's serving of fries, then it is finger food. And if the fries are accompanied by a cloth/linen napkin, then it is utensil/fork time. Sounds counter-intuitive, since a sturdier linen napkin would better serve one's needs as regards greasy digits. But if an establishment takes the time and care to launder it's napkins, then it may also likely appreciate the patron's efforts to keep things classy with a deft execution of knife and forkery...

                                                      1. re: silence9
                                                        Servorg RE: silence9 Jun 29, 2011 12:53 PM

                                                        Dammit...now I'm going to have to embarrass myself entirely and ask for a fork the next time I have Ethiopian food...(or at least a paper napkin!)... ;-D>

                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                          silence9 RE: Servorg Jun 29, 2011 03:44 PM

                                                          Not nearly so embarrassing as ever requesting a spork :-) I will never grow accustomed to the term 'spork', as it sounds like a frat-house euphemism of some dastardly activity... Perhaps I will design a combination knife & fork, and call it a 'knork' or a drinking straw & spoon and call it a 'stroon' :-)

                                                          1. re: silence9
                                                            im_nomad RE: silence9 Jun 30, 2011 08:55 AM

                                                            Your stroon has already been designed, I have some at home ! Came with a set of latte glasses or something I think.

                                                            1. re: silence9
                                                              greygarious RE: silence9 Jul 4, 2011 02:05 PM


                                                              1. re: greygarious
                                                                silence9 RE: greygarious Jul 5, 2011 09:58 AM

                                                                Hah - LOL!, thank you for that link (and your quick eye in knowing this). Again, I'm a day late and a dollar short of fame & fortune. Still a great idea, and kudos to the inventors...

                                                                1. re: silence9
                                                                  greygarious RE: silence9 Jul 5, 2011 07:10 PM

                                                                  I've never actually seen one, just an online promo. Seems like there'd be a danger of sliced lip or tongue. Actually, a stroon's a good idea, unless it already exists. You should present it to Everyday Edisons. A straw with a spoon on the end seems like a natural for 7-11's slurpees or for drive-throughs that sell smoothies, frappes, or milk shakes.

                                                                  1. re: greygarious
                                                                    soupkitten RE: greygarious Jul 6, 2011 09:09 PM


                                                                    or see also: dairy queen

                                                                    1. re: soupkitten
                                                                      greygarious RE: soupkitten Jul 7, 2011 12:09 PM

                                                                      Silence9, you are foiled again!

                                                                      1. re: greygarious
                                                                        silence9 RE: greygarious Jul 8, 2011 01:46 PM

                                                                        Dang ! The Utensil God mocks me ! As Homer Simpson said to Lisa: "You've tried and tried, and failed and failed; the moral is -- never try... OK, one last attempt (and I think this one's a winner): hollow chopsticks (chopsticks-meet-straw): for use with ramen -- chopstick for use on the chasu, veggies, noodle, then sip the ambrosial broth through the straw-like hollowed out chopstick. I'll call it the Chopsuck or the Sipstick. Patent pending....

                                                                  2. re: BobB
                                                                    Servorg RE: BobB Jul 8, 2011 01:48 PM

                                                                    I believe that the term "norks" derives from our Aussie friends (who have a penchant for coming up with rude, entertaining slang terms)

                                                                    1. re: Servorg
                                                                      BobB RE: Servorg Jul 8, 2011 01:54 PM

                                                                      Maybe, but it was an Englishwoman who first pointed it out to me (on Chowhound, in another thread where knorks were mentioned) and she claimed it was British slang. It wouldn't be unusual for it to be in use in both places

                                                                      1. re: BobB
                                                                        Servorg RE: BobB Jul 8, 2011 02:08 PM


                                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                                          BobB RE: Servorg Jul 8, 2011 02:22 PM

                                                                          Interesting. Several say it's Australian in origin, at least one says it's Geordie (Northeast English dialect). Certainly it's used in both countries today.

                                                                          As an amateur etymologist, the Norco derivation strikes me as contrived. And in fact it is disputed here: http://www.victoria.org.au/Nork.htm

                                                                          Who knows if that's true either, but it's a better (and more believable) story, at least to my ear.

                                                                      2. re: Servorg
                                                                        TheHuntress RE: Servorg Jul 8, 2011 06:59 PM

                                                                        Yep, I did a double take when read "knorks". As an Australian with a Welsh/English background I can't be sure where it came from, but it's certainly a term in use.

                                                        2. e
                                                          emu48 RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2011 03:44 AM

                                                          Not too many years ago, etiquette books told you to eat asparagus with your fingers, even with hollandaise on the asparagus and a tuxedo on you. I used to work at a keyboard in a shop where many of us ate popcorn as we typed. Some of us used chopsticks. Typing with greasy fingers is uncouth. Typing at a keyboard where someone else had greasy fingers is an abomination.

                                                          7 Replies
                                                          1. re: emu48
                                                            512window RE: emu48 Jun 29, 2011 12:46 PM

                                                            You ate popcorn with your chopsticks?

                                                            1. re: 512window
                                                              emu48 RE: 512window Jun 29, 2011 11:11 PM

                                                              Yeah. Nothing to it. Irregular shape of popped kernels makes popcorn one of the easier things to pick up with sticks. As opposed to, say, peas. But then this was in Hawaii, where everybody gets pretty chopstick competent.

                                                              1. re: emu48
                                                                512window RE: emu48 Jun 30, 2011 01:28 PM

                                                                I'm pretty chopstick competent. It just seems like an awful lot of work when you could just eat the finger food and then go wash up.

                                                                1. re: 512window
                                                                  EWSflash RE: 512window Jul 7, 2011 07:42 PM

                                                                  I eat Cheetos with chopsticks, for the same reason (plus I don't want to get the dreaded orangefinger sign).

                                                              2. re: 512window
                                                                ipsedixit RE: 512window Jul 4, 2011 11:46 AM

                                                                That reminds me.

                                                                I once saw someone eating a plate of nachos with chopsticks ... and they were "slurping" (is that the right word?) the cheese as it stretched from the chips.

                                                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                  Tripeler RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2011 05:50 PM

                                                                  Was this in Tokyo?

                                                                  1. re: Tripeler
                                                                    ipsedixit RE: Tripeler Jul 4, 2011 08:44 PM

                                                                    I believe the pic was taken in Singapore.

                                                            2. TheHuntress RE: ipsedixit Jun 29, 2011 04:22 AM

                                                              I love any opportunity to eat with my fingers, regardless of the establishment, so for me fries are always finger food. I do occasionally default to a fork, but I can't think as to why I do this. But for me eating is an entirely sensual experience and I relish the opportunity to eat with my fingers and feel my food. Mr. Huntress is remarkably tolerable of this.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: TheHuntress
                                                                EWSflash RE: TheHuntress Jul 7, 2011 07:43 PM


                                                                1. re: TheHuntress
                                                                  goodhealthgourmet RE: TheHuntress Jul 7, 2011 08:13 PM

                                                                  your comment reminded me of an old thread in which several of us confessed to eating salad with our fingers:

                                                                  and i found another one about hands/fingers vs utensils in case you're interested...

                                                                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                    TheHuntress RE: goodhealthgourmet Jul 8, 2011 12:56 AM

                                                                    Thanks GHG! I have always eaten salad with my fingers, I don't know why, I just like to. I know that I must look like a heathen sometimes, eating fries with my fingers, but I tend to hope that if I'm wearing an excellent outfit people don't notice so much.

                                                                2. im_nomad RE: ipsedixit Jun 30, 2011 08:59 AM

                                                                  Unless they are short or smaller and chunky like hash browns, I usually start by eating with my hands, although at some point (smaller fries?) I switch to a fork. Even if there is gravy, I'll start by pulling out the uncovered ended ones first as long as they're long enough.

                                                                  1. c
                                                                    CanadaGirl RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2011 06:37 AM

                                                                    I think either way is acceptable. In thinking about it, I tend to eat them whatever way I am eating my main, jut for simplicity's sake. So, burger = fingers, fish = fork.

                                                                    1. danionavenue RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                                      I always eat fries with my fingers unless it is poutine here in canada, that gravy can get messy:)

                                                                      1. greygarious RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2011 02:14 PM

                                                                        I want to minimize the grease on my fingers, so my credo is that if it can be eaten readily with utensils, use them. Burger, sandwich, hot dog, wrap... hands. Fries and onion rings, regardless of thickness....fork. I think socially, the fork is the safer choice, especially if you are at a better restaurant. No one will raise an eyebrow if you use a fork for your fries, but adjacent tables may look askance at you for using your fingers to eat the fries accompanying your Delmonico steak.

                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                        1. re: greygarious
                                                                          kpaxonite RE: greygarious Jul 4, 2011 02:17 PM

                                                                          i cant imagine other diners judging you for eating fries with your hands

                                                                          1. re: greygarious
                                                                            DPGood RE: greygarious Jul 4, 2011 08:58 PM

                                                                            OK, let me get this straight. I'm eating at a better restaurant, but instead of a Delmonico steak and fries, I'm having a very expensive hamburger and fries. So the people at the next table don't look askance at me (and raise an eyebrow, God forbid), i should eat my hamburger with a fork?

                                                                            1. re: DPGood
                                                                              greygarious RE: DPGood Jul 4, 2011 09:34 PM

                                                                              No, as previously mentioned, it would be awkward to eat a burger with knife and fork. But it is not difficult to eat fries with a fork; therefore that's what I do in any situation in which flatware is provided or available.

                                                                          2. Bill Hunt RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2011 09:21 PM

                                                                            This can depend on the event, where you encounter the fires.

                                                                            In general terms, my protocol instructor insists that nothing, bacon, fires, nothing, can be eaten with the fingers. This is for formal dinners. At a pub, all of the protocol is out the window.


                                                                            27 Replies
                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                              Servorg RE: Bill Hunt Jul 5, 2011 03:28 AM

                                                                              I just want to know how your "protocol instructor" eats his bread and butter at "formal" dinners?

                                                                              1. re: Servorg
                                                                                HoosierFoodie RE: Servorg Jul 6, 2011 08:38 AM

                                                                                I thought the same thing about bread and butter and using one's hands...

                                                                                1. re: HoosierFoodie
                                                                                  Servorg RE: HoosierFoodie Jul 6, 2011 08:39 AM

                                                                                  An even more amusing image came to my mind with someone actually spearing a dinner roll out of the basket using their fork. Now that would make me laugh out loud.

                                                                                  1. re: Servorg
                                                                                    huiray RE: Servorg Jul 6, 2011 09:46 AM

                                                                                    I'm not sure you would always be served bread or rolls at formal dinners. If bread is served, wouldn't it often be served individually to you; OR, tongs are provided for picking up rolls with said tongs? I also imagine rolls and/or bread would already be precut or served in slices? (I understand the Queen of England has been known to spear a piece of bread and mop up her sauce with it, in a "bread-on-the-end-of-the-fork" manner throughout, of course.)

                                                                                    1. re: huiray
                                                                                      Servorg RE: huiray Jul 6, 2011 09:49 AM

                                                                                      And after you've used the tongs and buttered the bread/roll on your little plate, what then? Do you cut it up with your knife and fork and eat the little pieces? I don't think so (although it might provide your fellow guests with some post dinner conversation when home with their significant others)...And I wonder about the etiquette of using a speared piece of bread or roll to mop up your sauce at said formal dinner? Perhaps tearing the bread or roll apart with your hands, (which I've always been told is the polite, mannerly way to go about that particular process) and eating it with your hands would actually be a better display of proper manners?

                                                                                      1. re: Servorg
                                                                                        huiray RE: Servorg Jul 6, 2011 09:57 AM

                                                                                        Heh. Well, I myself would then USE MY FINGERS, dunno what others would do. :-)
                                                                                        Mopping the extra sauce on my entree plate with bread in my fingers would probably be a faux pas, though...I would use my fork then - at a formal dinner - although scavenging the sauce would itself be a borderline hanging offense at a real snooty affair.

                                                                                        1. re: Servorg
                                                                                          KaimukiMan RE: Servorg Jul 7, 2011 01:53 PM

                                                                                          well, the pieces are to be torn off the main piece first, then individually buttered, then you eat them. not that most people do it that way.

                                                                                          1. re: KaimukiMan
                                                                                            kpaxonite RE: KaimukiMan Jul 7, 2011 04:13 PM

                                                                                            I would actually consider that bad etiquette

                                                                                            1. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                              huiray RE: kpaxonite Jul 7, 2011 04:32 PM

                                                                                              On the contrary, that IS what one should do, with rolls & soft bread etc. - one bite-sized piece at a time, each buttered and eaten before going on to the next piece.

                                                                                              With toast, it's OK to butter the whole piece and then eat it while holding it by the edges, not flat in the palm.

                                                                                              1. re: huiray
                                                                                                kpaxonite RE: huiray Jul 7, 2011 04:48 PM

                                                                                                But if the butter is shared, it is essentially the same as double dipping.

                                                                                                "I too, have gotten razzed for eating too "prissily" by the bread/butter ritual. Which then makes me internally think my dining companion is undereducated in the ettiquette department.

                                                                                                Table Manners http://www.chow.com/food-news/54040/b... agrees with you but many of the comments didn't:

                                                                                                "But seriously, it IS kind of gross when people keep getting their crumby knives in the communal butter. I correct my children, but bite my tongue with my adult companions.
                                                                                                By sarahbell on October 2, 2007 09:55 PM"

                                                                                                1. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                  huiray RE: kpaxonite Jul 7, 2011 05:27 PM

                                                                                                  One is supposed to take a pat (or sufficient) butter from the butter dish (if no individual serving of butter is furnished) with one's butter knife and place it on the top-right of the bread plate. One then uses the butter on one's bread plate. If more butter is needed then yes, one's butter knife (if no other "serving" butter knife is provided) is used to get more butter from the common dish. However, I would understand that one's butter knife is somewhat clean - I should not have used it to scrape vigorously upon the piece of bread (even toast), one should have used the knife or spreader to gently apply a pat of butter to the piece of bread so there should not be any deposits of crumbs and pieces of bread on the knife - AND I should not have licked the knife. If any of these things had occurred through some unfortunate slip or lapse of mine I would clean off the knife (perhaps on a piece of bread) or ask for a fresh knife for taking more butter. If butter is served in small wrapped pieces there is no issue.

                                                                                                  I pulled up the link you provided and read through it as well as all the comments. The one you cite is the only mention of your "double dipping" concern. The great majority of the comments are also in favor of the manner of eating bread as described (one piece at a time). Those who dissented were very much in the minority.

                                                                                                  1. re: huiray
                                                                                                    KaimukiMan RE: huiray Jul 8, 2011 01:06 PM

                                                                                                    +1, thanks huiray

                                                                                                    Perhaps I should have been clearer. A reasonable size piece is taken from the breadbasket. Often it is a whole piece (like a roll or biscuit) or pre-sliced from a larger loaf. In more casual settings a loaf may be served on a breadboard with it's own knife and each diner slices their own portion, or even broken apart with by hand if a knife isn't supplied (don't gasp, it worked for Jesus didn't it? Now go clean under your fingernails please...) The individual piece is placed on your bread plate or your main plate and you take pieces from that and individually butter them as described by huiray above.

                                                                                                    Having a (well trimmed) moustache I have become acutely aware of the advantage of this method over taking a bite out of a pre-spread piece.

                                                                                                  2. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                    greygarious RE: kpaxonite Jul 7, 2011 05:31 PM

                                                                                                    No way is it double-dipping. You tear off a piece of bread or roll, butter that piece, and pop it into your mouth. Your saliva does not get onto the knife. If the butter is communal, the errant crumb may get into it but again, that crumb has touched only the knife - unless you are dining with troglodytes who suck their knives at the table.

                                                                                                    I was taught the break-and-butter rule 50 years ago, when the manners of British royalty were of more importance in America than they are today. I do remember a corollary, which is that chicken drumsticks can be eaten with the hands - Prince Philip did so.

                                                                                                    1. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                      Bill Hunt RE: kpaxonite Jul 7, 2011 07:37 PM

                                                                                                      No. One must place the butter, that they will require onto a bread plate, if provided. One takes enough butter to apply to their bread, so long as there is more for others, down the line.

                                                                                                      One does NOT go to the butter server for each application.

                                                                                                      Hope that helps,


                                                                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                        lifeasbinge RE: Bill Hunt Aug 23, 2011 06:25 PM

                                                                                                        Good to know what "one" doesn't do. If "one" is concerned with "protocol."

                                                                                                        1. re: lifeasbinge
                                                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: lifeasbinge Aug 24, 2011 09:04 PM

                                                                                                          Ah, but protocol only counts, if one cares...


                                                                                                      2. re: kpaxonite
                                                                                                        sandylc RE: kpaxonite Jan 16, 2012 08:25 PM

                                                                                                        Butter is never shared. The butter dish should have its own serving knife which a person uses to transfer a portion of butter to their bread plate. One this is accomplished, you use your own butter knife to butter your torn-off bread pieces before eating them. Your personal butter knife should never touch the communal butter.

                                                                                                        1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                          josephnl RE: sandylc Jan 16, 2012 10:29 PM

                                                                                                          sandylc...it really depends where you are dining. At many very casual restaurants in Europe (bistros, trattorias, etc.) a loaf of bread is commonly placed directly on the table with a communal butter dish, and no individual bread plates. In this situation, there is no choice but to place your own piece of bread directly on the table (until other food is served) and to share the butter and use your own knife repeatedly on the communal butter dish.

                                                                                                          1. re: josephnl
                                                                                                            sandylc RE: josephnl Jan 17, 2012 06:24 PM

                                                                                                            You have a point. And there is also the baguette that everyone tears off a piece of with their hands, also. What I spoke of above is the expected etiquette/method that was taught when I was growing up. I do put bread plates and a serving butter knife on the table when we have dinner guests. Although, I did once see a guest dip his knife into the butter on the bread plate of the guest sitting next to him!

                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc
                                                                                                              josephnl RE: sandylc Jan 17, 2012 07:33 PM

                                                                                                              Absolutely correct. It depends on the setting. If the table is set with individual bread plates and butter knives and the butter plate has its own knife, one should not ever bring his own butter knife to the butter plate. But in a casual restaurant where one tears a piece of bread off the loaf on the table, and there are no individual bread plates and butter knives, pretty much anything goes.

                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl
                                                                                                                sandylc RE: josephnl Jan 17, 2012 08:28 PM

                                                                                                                All the better to challenge and thus build our immune systems!!!!!

                                                                                        2. re: Servorg
                                                                                          Bill Hunt RE: Servorg Jul 6, 2011 09:26 PM

                                                                                          Hm-m, should have qualified that to "anything on one's plate."

                                                                                          I see your point.


                                                                                        3. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                          racer x RE: Bill Hunt Jul 9, 2011 10:11 AM

                                                                                          I think if I encounter any fires, whether to pick up the fries with fingers or forks will be the last thing on my mind.

                                                                                          It's perfectly appropriate to use fingers for finger foods like fries.
                                                                                          I always use fingers for fries, unless the fries are wet (eg, from lots of steak juice in streak frites). And to the OP's question, knives would be superfluous (and ridiculous), given the size of typical French fries.

                                                                                          The real debate would be over what finger foods are permissible in more formal settings. BBQ ribs? Crab legs?

                                                                                          1. re: racer x
                                                                                            huiray RE: racer x Jul 9, 2011 11:10 AM

                                                                                            I think BBQ ribs or crab legs would be very bad things to serve at a formal dinner. Real bad. If by some chance they ARE served, then I would wait for the senior person at the meal or the host to start and then follow that person's lead.

                                                                                            1. re: racer x
                                                                                              Bill Hunt RE: racer x Aug 24, 2011 09:06 PM

                                                                                              Yes, if those fries are on fire, then I reach for the seltzer bottle, to put the fire out, and do not worry about which utensil that I will use - spray that hummer!


                                                                                            2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                              kubasd RE: Bill Hunt Aug 21, 2011 04:17 PM

                                                                                              I don't know about you, but I try to avoid the fires in general. I definitely would not want to eat fire with my fingers, OUCH! ha

                                                                                              1. re: kubasd
                                                                                                Bill Hunt RE: kubasd Aug 24, 2011 09:07 PM

                                                                                                Or my lips!


                                                                                            3. h
                                                                                              hsk RE: ipsedixit Jul 4, 2011 10:53 PM

                                                                                              I'm with convenience. If I'm eating with knife and fork (eg steak) I pick up the frites with said fork. Same with fish and chips. If I'm eating a burger with my hands I use my fingers to pick up the fries. If I'm eating poutine, fork, definitely, regardless of what else I'm eating with it.

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: hsk
                                                                                                Luna2372 RE: hsk Jul 5, 2011 03:43 AM

                                                                                                I also think it has to do with how comfortable I am with the person I'm eating with. Old freinds and family...fingers. Strangers, co-workers new freinds...maybe a fork.

                                                                                              2. f
                                                                                                Floridagirl RE: ipsedixit Jul 5, 2011 07:45 PM

                                                                                                I eat any fries, whatever they are called, with my fingers because I like to and ask Miss Manners, she will agree I think. Onion rings too. Asparagus are finger food I think but I only do that at home, knife and fork in a restaurant. Tater tots are fork unless nobody is watching.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Floridagirl
                                                                                                  Luna2372 RE: Floridagirl Jul 5, 2011 07:49 PM

                                                                                                  No question...Onion rings are finger food...rings...fingers...It's got be done.

                                                                                                  1. re: Luna2372
                                                                                                    goodhealthgourmet RE: Luna2372 Jul 5, 2011 08:31 PM

                                                                                                    ha! i love the logic there :)

                                                                                                    and i'm not above picking up a simple steamed asparagus spear with my fingers in a restaurant if i'm among family and friends.

                                                                                                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet
                                                                                                      Luna2372 RE: goodhealthgourmet Jul 5, 2011 08:37 PM

                                                                                                      I agree, and it makes a handy pointer if it is cooked lightly.

                                                                                                2. c
                                                                                                  Chowrin RE: ipsedixit Jul 6, 2011 06:18 PM

                                                                                                  the only time to eat french fries with a fork....
                                                                                                  is in lomo saltado.
                                                                                                  (or other "clearly designed dishes" where the french fry is part of something plated to be forkworthy. If you threw them into a salad (and mixed them in), i'd use a fork. if you put them on top, then they're fingerfood, unless drenched with dressing.)

                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                  1. re: Chowrin
                                                                                                    Luna2372 RE: Chowrin Jul 6, 2011 09:11 PM

                                                                                                    where or what is lomo saltado?

                                                                                                  2. Veggo RE: ipsedixit Jul 7, 2011 04:44 PM

                                                                                                    There is a third option, which in comparison makes both of yours seem quite acceptable, ipse. I'm thinking of Harry Houdini, who was sufficiently dexterous that he could untie knots with his toes, so I'm sure that sans footwear he could have breezed through a side of fries with his hands folded.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                      goodhealthgourmet RE: Veggo Jul 7, 2011 06:37 PM

                                                                                                      i imagine it would be a rather messy affair if you tried that with poutine or NY/NJ diner "disco fries"...suddenly the term "toe cheese" takes on an entirely new meaning ;)

                                                                                                    2. w
                                                                                                      wayne keyser RE: ipsedixit Jul 8, 2011 01:52 AM

                                                                                                      Here's the best way:

                                                                                                      Listen very carefully to the suggestions of other diners at your table.

                                                                                                      Let them debate the pro's and con's of their positions while you eat the fries any way you want to.

                                                                                                      Thank them for an interesting conversation as you show them the empty plate upon which there once were fries.


                                                                                                      1. Peg RE: ipsedixit Jul 8, 2011 10:42 AM

                                                                                                        I'm slowly coming to terms with the words 'fries' and 'etiquette' appearing in the same sentence.
                                                                                                        In fact does 'etiquette' belong in ANY sentence these days?

                                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                                        1. re: Peg
                                                                                                          kpaxonite RE: Peg Jul 8, 2011 10:59 AM


                                                                                                          1. re: Peg
                                                                                                            S_K RE: Peg Jul 9, 2011 04:42 PM


                                                                                                            1. re: Peg
                                                                                                              Veggo RE: Peg Jul 9, 2011 05:02 PM

                                                                                                              One that begins "Way back when.....", or "Yesteryear"

                                                                                                              1. re: Veggo
                                                                                                                Luna2372 RE: Veggo Jul 9, 2011 10:31 PM

                                                                                                                Anyone remember the scene in "flashdance" where the chick ate the lobster with her fingers in the classy restaurant.

                                                                                                                Still envious of her abandon...etiquette be damned

                                                                                                                1. re: Luna2372
                                                                                                                  Veggo RE: Luna2372 Jul 10, 2011 11:02 AM

                                                                                                                  Ah, yes, I knew a few of those special ones. It counts most when they KNOW they are defying rules of decorum and rules be damned.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Luna2372
                                                                                                                    small h RE: Luna2372 Jul 10, 2011 05:30 PM

                                                                                                                    <Anyone remember the scene in "flashdance" where the chick ate the lobster with her fingers in the classy restaurant.>

                                                                                                                    Vividly. And to up the stakes, I offer you Splash, ftw (2:14 in the trailer):


                                                                                                              2. PotatoHouse RE: ipsedixit Aug 21, 2011 05:07 PM

                                                                                                                I eat my fries however I am eating my entree, not out of any sense of propriety, but simply out of convenience.

                                                                                                                1. f
                                                                                                                  Fydeaux RE: ipsedixit Aug 23, 2011 06:02 AM

                                                                                                                  Absolutely fascinating how people can make a complete hash out of something as simple as how to eat fries. Everyone knows that the answer is neither, since they should be on the hot dog! (^-^)

                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                  1. re: Fydeaux
                                                                                                                    Bill Hunt RE: Fydeaux Aug 24, 2011 09:10 PM

                                                                                                                    Are you referring to a "potato hash?"


                                                                                                                  2. j
                                                                                                                    josephnl RE: ipsedixit Aug 23, 2011 07:58 AM

                                                                                                                    This raises the interesting question about how you would eat a messy chili dog at a three star Michelin restaurant with all their fancy linen, Reidel crystal and Christophle silver? Hands or fork & knife?

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl
                                                                                                                      Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Aug 24, 2011 09:11 PM

                                                                                                                      Hm-m-m. Good question. The next time that I encounter, and order, a chili dog at such a restaurant, I will let you know.


                                                                                                                    2. l
                                                                                                                      lifeasbinge RE: ipsedixit Aug 23, 2011 06:28 PM

                                                                                                                      So do we need to be on the lookout for the Protocol Police?

                                                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                                                      1. re: lifeasbinge
                                                                                                                        josephnl RE: lifeasbinge Aug 23, 2011 07:14 PM

                                                                                                                        Am I the only one who appoints a protocol policeman to watch over things whenever we have guests over for dinner? Is capital punishment too severe for someone who "double dips"...or G-d forbid, puts an ice cube in their wine? We do have standards of behavior to uphold...do we not?

                                                                                                                      2. BlueMagic RE: ipsedixit Aug 24, 2011 05:15 PM

                                                                                                                        It would never occur to me to order fries with a steak. I would only order fries with a burger or other sandwich and eat them with my fingers ( and of course ketchup ..a fry just isn't worth eating without ketchup.
                                                                                                                        The exception to this is gravy fries. These were pretty popular in a lot of places when I was a kid. Obviously these need to be eaten with a fork.

                                                                                                                        9 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: BlueMagic
                                                                                                                          josephnl RE: BlueMagic Aug 24, 2011 07:18 PM

                                                                                                                          Amongst absolutely classic French bistro offerings are steak frites (steak with fries) and moules frites (mussels with fries). Steak with fries is offered at many fairly upscale French restaurants because it is such a classic combination. I don't think anyone would give a hoot if you ate the fries with a fork or your fingers...and if they did, I couldn't care less...it would be their problem.

                                                                                                                          1. re: BlueMagic
                                                                                                                            Bill Hunt RE: BlueMagic Aug 24, 2011 09:12 PM

                                                                                                                            But what about "chili-cheese fries?" Do they count, as well?


                                                                                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                              josephnl RE: Bill Hunt Aug 24, 2011 10:05 PM

                                                                                                                              Since I usually have chili-cheese fries at upscale sushi bars, I tend to use chopsticks.

                                                                                                                              1. re: josephnl
                                                                                                                                Bill Hunt RE: josephnl Aug 26, 2011 08:17 PM

                                                                                                                                Works for me.

                                                                                                                                Now, my "chopsticks skills" are not the best, but then I can pick up individual rice grains, so all is not bad - just not pretty.


                                                                                                                              2. re: Bill Hunt
                                                                                                                                BlueMagic RE: Bill Hunt Aug 26, 2011 11:29 AM

                                                                                                                                I have never had chili cheese fries..but okay..I guess they would count as well.

                                                                                                                                1. re: BlueMagic
                                                                                                                                  josephnl RE: BlueMagic Aug 26, 2011 04:28 PM

                                                                                                                                  Forgive me...I was getting silly about eating chili cheese fries at a sushi bar. They however can be terrific with a rare hamburger and a cold beer!

                                                                                                                                  1. re: josephnl
                                                                                                                                    huiray RE: josephnl Aug 26, 2011 06:08 PM

                                                                                                                                    I was wondering about that. I was thinking - maybe they DO do that sort of thing especially in California (and any other relevant places)...? What with these American maki rolls with lots of savory mayo and chili sauces; and also in light of what a poster had to say about ending his career as a sushi chef: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8025...

                                                                                                                                    1. re: josephnl
                                                                                                                                      ChuckRocks RE: josephnl Aug 27, 2011 05:59 AM

                                                                                                                                      Ever eat them from a box?

                                                                                                                                      When they taste like old gym socks?

                                                                                                                                      Chili cheese fries made by Gucci?

                                                                                                                                      Could you eat them cold with sushi?


                                                                                                                                      Chili Cheese Fries can be "good" with a rare hamburger and a cold beer.

                                                                                                                                      However, from my limited experiance I've found that most of the time CCF is/are made to hide oily chili, old fries or get rid of imitation cheese

                                                                                                                                      ( cheese "products" such as Cheeze Whiz; No cheese, just whiz.)

                                                                                                                                      Having said that, I would rather have the cheese on my rare hamburger, the chili on the side and with fresh hot Belgian Fries with Andalusian sauce and cold Belgian beer.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: ChuckRocks
                                                                                                                                        Servorg RE: ChuckRocks Aug 27, 2011 07:06 AM

                                                                                                                                        "However, from my limited experiance I've found that most of the time CCF is/are made to hide oily chili, old fries or get rid of imitation cheese"

                                                                                                                                        So if those assertions are true then:

                                                                                                                                        a. You'll be having oily chili on the side

                                                                                                                                        b. "They" have been saving old fries somewhere back in the kitchen just waiting for a CCF order

                                                                                                                                        c. You'll be having that imitation cheese on your burger instead of your fries.

                                                                                                                                        Do I have that right? lol...

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