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May 10, 2007 09:22 PM

Proper way to eat french fries ... etiquette question

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. 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

      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

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

          1. re: TexSquared

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

            1. re: Servorg

              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

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

              1. re: TexSquared

                @ Texsquared: Sashimi is not sushi.

              2. re: downtownfoodie

                "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

                  Yep, I was wondering the same thing.

                  1. re: twyst

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

                    1. re: small h

                      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

                        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

                    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

                      @ 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

                        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

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

                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

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

                        2. re: downtownfoodie

                          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 mean you can't cover your nose or mouth? Would love to know where this "rule" comes from?

                          1. re: josephnl

                            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

                              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 a signal to the server that it's ok to take the plate away. Has anyone else ever heard this?

                              1. re: josephnl

                                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

                                  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

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

                                2. re: josephnl

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

                                3. re: downtownfoodie

                                  "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. 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

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

                                  1. re: pikawicca

                                    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

                                    Would the Queen actually *eat* fries?? LOL

                                    1. re: Godslamb

                                      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

                                        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. 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. 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. Crispy = fingers.

                                        Soggy = fork.

                                        (Entree status irrelevant)

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: RicRios

                                          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

                                            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

                                              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

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