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Nov 10, 2008 08:41 AM

When a knife and fork just won't do...

In a restaurant setting: You're finishing off a riblet from a tasty Rack of you pick it up with your hands to complete the task? Or that good Prime Rib bone for that matter...
The Chicken Sarpariello on the bone needs finishing off and some sucking you pick it up with your hands and finish it off?
Let's try one more...Lobster or King Crab, Mussels too...Using your hands sometimes completes enjoyment of the dish, no?
Eating in the privacy of your home is one thing...but in a restaurant dining room do you feel paranoid about using your hands when the knife and fork just won't do? What have been your experiences and what do you feel is the proper etiquette?

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  1. Not eat a lobster with your hands? How on earth?????? Other than that, I'd say it depends who else is at the table and what the restaurant is. But mostly, I smile broadly and ask if I could take the rest of that home, please.

    1. With seafood, almost definitely. With chicken, I wouldn't. Rack of lamb or prime rib, it's hard to say as I have ordered them probably less than five times in the last five years. I just don't enjoy gnawing meat off the bone. I don't eat bbq ribs for example.

      If the BF was gnawing bones, I might cringe a little, but as long as he was being reasonably tidy I hope I'd be ok with it. I'm definitely one for fully savoring the food.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Louise

        I’ve got to agree on the comment; it depends on who you are with. I recall a first dinner date with a “gentlemen”. We had shrimp cocktails, chicken wings, ribs and corn on the cob. The only polite way I can describe it is that he devoured, gnawed and licked every morsel off the ribs and chicken, he ate the shrimp tail and all and left the corn cob bare and proceeded to suck any juice off of it. I kid you not when I tell you he left naked bones and corn cobs on the plate. There was no tidy, only plenty of used napkins all over the table.

        I was so uncomfortable and stunned, there was no second date.

        I’d say bring it home…

      2. ribs, crab, lobster, crawfish, fried shrimp, fried alligator, frog legs, fried chicken, and corn on the cob are some of the items I eat with my hands. If they are on the menu, I will eat these items with my hands no matter the company, or setting.

        The bone from a porterhouse, T-Bone, or bone-in- filet..., I will wait until I am at home the next morning snacking on the cold remnants of my rare , prime steak from the night before and eat the meat off the bone.

        1. Proper etiquette dictates that chicken on the bone can be eaten with the for the rest, I'm not sure, but IMHO, I'm comfortable doing whatever enhances my enjoyment of a meal, provided it doesn't make anyone around me uncomfortable.

          2 Replies
          1. re: theferlyone

            "Proper etiquette dictates that chicken on the bone can be eaten with the fingers"... tell that to Mrs. O. The first time we sat down to fried chicken and I proceeded to eat it as I always have done, her look of horror was indescribable. "WHAT are you DOING?" Well, gee, eating chicken, and then the argument escalated, ending (as far as she was concerned) with her hauling out Amy Vanderbilt and reading me chapter and verse, about how in the most informal family setting, such as a picnic, one might be permitted to hold a drumstick and nibble at it, but under no other circumstances. I pointed out that I had never beheld any human being eating it any other way, that if the Lord hadn't wanted us eating it with our hands he wouldn't have given it handles, and tell me, please, if the Colonel claims his chicken to be FORK-LICKING good? All for nought, of course. I still pick it up, she still rolls her eyes (and gets her bones cleaner faster with a knife and fork than I do!), but she married me anyway.

            1. re: Will Owen

              Oh do I sympathise with the situation .Why I place the bowl of warm wet towels on the table.DH is on your page with 41 years of practice.I still get more faster with
              "tools",don't grease up the stem ware or have to think about the mess.Coming up on the 42nd year of marriage it still gets to me a little.The towels are a solution here.

          2. In a restaurant setting: use hands to eat meat on the bone if you can do it without getting too messy. Big bones don't count so no to picking up the prime rib bone (generally, you should be able to pick the bone up with your first finger and thumb, anything bigger than that, other than beef ribs which are always meant to be picked up, isn't to be picked up, imo).

            Shellfish that is not already de-shelled should be de-shelled with the utensils provided, but held with the hands (how else are you going to do it?). Mussels may be picked up with your hands, too, but you should use utensils to scoop or loosen the meat from the shell. I wouldn't suck on pieces of meat or bone, generally. Keep your hands and face clean and don't lick your fingers. Why would you be paranoid?