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Is there a name for this style of feeding oneself?

I can't figure out what board this should go on, so I'm posting it here.

I know a fellow who eats his dinner (and perhaps other meals as well) in an unusual way, and I'm wondering if anyone else has ever seen this, and if it has a name or is identified with some particular culture:

what he does is, every forkful has a little of each item on the dinner plate. So for expl let's say he has on his plate steak, string beans, and mashed potatoes. He cuts a piece of steak, puts it on his fork; adds a few strong beans (perhaps using his knife to get them on the fork), and then add adds a little mashed potato. Thus, every mouthful has a little of each item--and to my mind, the taste of any individual item is obscured, at best.

Anyone have a name for this, or any observations on it?

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  1. I don't know if there's a technical term, but I call those composed bites, assuming that all the elements on the plate were designed to go together. I do it too, but the way you talk about it almost makes it sound like a disorder... :P

    3 Replies
    1. re: inaplasticcup

      I was thinking the same thing! OCD?
      You're friend is on the opposite end of the spectrum from people who don't want any foods touching.

      1. re: monavano

        It is an obsessive compulsive tendency, it is not disorder until it goes so far as to be a problem in functioning normally.

    2. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum, I usually eat each item one at a time and only start on the next item when I have finished the first one completely.

      20 Replies
      1. re: redfish62

        My son does the same thing. I secretly wish that he wouldn't but hey, was always happy when he ate most of the food on his plate. I've never even considered saying something politely about it, just let him be.

        1. re: lilgi

          For what it's worth, I used to eat this way - didn't like my foods touching, ate one thing at a time, and would rotate the plate when moving on to the next item. My mom noticed it, and let me know she noticed (especially when she first noticed the plate-turning, which I had been doing for years at that point), but let me be. I eventually grew out of it. :)

          1. re: Wahooty

            Moms have to learn to pick their battles, right? Not a terrible thing by any means, just seems odd to me but I have seen other people do this. And I think he eats this way because he knows he gets sated very quickly, so he eats his favorite part of the meal first ;)

            1. re: lilgi

              Ah...that's where we differ. At some point, I started saving my favorite for last. Probably sometime after a long standoff over finishing my peas. I won that one, but it wasn't worth it - I eventually started disposing of the things I hated first, then enjoying the good parts of dinner. :)

              I'll give my mom credit, though - I don't think in her eyes there was even a battle to pick. She just thought it was funny and let me be. She has always been awesome that way. And now that I am fully grown and eat anything they put before me, my mom and dad still will NOT cook peas when I am visiting. :)

              1. re: Wahooty

                i'm a separate - not obsessive about touching - ordered eater, and best is last. as a kid it was protein, then veg, then starch. with pasta though, i liked the sauce on the side, and it was noodles first, then sauce with a spoon. now it tends to be reverse, veg then protein. it irks my mother to no end, to this day. i have a marked discontent with "omelettes" that have the veggies cooked through them... to me this is a frittata, but somehow restaurants believe if they cook all the stuff as one and fold it over, it's somehow an omelette. i do not concur. i like my omelettes as eggs, rolled around veggies... so, i can continue to eat the veggies out first, followed by the eggs.

                the oddities abound... i eat all the stalks off my veggies (broccoli, cauliflower) before the florets. eat asparagus from the stiffer end to the floral end. carrots from the pointed end to the fat end.... ugh, no wonder i need ChowDate.

                1. re: Emme

                  That's funny because I'm almost obsessive about eating everything on the plate in equal rations, but not together. I want my last few bites to be each of the components on the plate. Funny how different people eat. :)

              2. re: lilgi

                >>>
                Moms have to learn to pick their battles, right?
                <<<

                This is one my Mom picked...along with lots of other ones. I was taught that one *never* ate all of one thing, and then the next, etc. One always ate a mix of everything, but never mixed foods on the fork. I still do it that way today.

                1. re: al b. darned

                  Did your mom ever share any words of wisdom? There's always a better chance when you start off early, I wish I had, but had another battle to pick. I also remember being taught to eat just like you, no wisdom shared just "this is the way it is".

                  1. re: lilgi

                    >>>
                    Did your mom ever share any words of wisdom?
                    <<<

                    It was considered to be rude. Being Rude was one of the High Sins in our house growing up.

                    1. re: al b. darned

                      Yes! Zero tolerance here as well, but it never entered my mind that eating this way as a habit is considered rude. While it never seemed "right" I never knew why, but (for me) this adds a different perspective.

          2. re: redfish62

            There are some things I ALWAYS eat first and until it is gone; broccoli comes to mind because I don't like it cold. But I never combine food on the fork if it is not already combined, I just go back and forth between items. I have no problem with foods arriving pre-mixed like a stir-fry, but it drives me nuts when individual foods are piled on top of each other. Quirks!!

            1. re: redfish62

              that's what i do! and i tend to eat things in order, and one item at a time even if it's a composed dish (unless i am in sort of dining establishment where it's inappropriate to pick stuff apart or can't reasonably do it with a fork). example: for a salad, i'll eat all of one type of vegetable one at a time and then move on to the next. sandwiches are never eaten in bites - i pick out the tomato, then lettuce, then the turkey, then the bread.

              i used to pick off pizza toppings one by one, then i would move to cheese, then peel the crust in layers, but this horrified my boyfriend so much that i learned to eat my pizza like a "normal" person. i tend to revert when eating alone...

              1. re: jamieeats

                Just curious...why do you eat your food this way?

                1. re: joonjoon

                  Because to her it is the right way to eat the food.

                  I used to pick each and every pepperoni off of a takeout pizza and eat them one by one before I would take a single bite out of the pizza itself.

                  1. re: redfish62

                    But why? Why did you decide to pick each piece of pepperoni off the pizza before consuming it? If you've never thought about it that's fine, but if it was a logical, thought out process I'm curious to know what the reason was.

                    1. re: joonjoon

                      i actually don't eat pepperoni, i normally get vegetable pizza. i just think each ingredient tastes better when it is separate from the rest i guess, and i don't enjoy the full bites quite as much. i also prefer to eat very slowly.

                    2. re: redfish62

                      Whereas, the kid on "2 1/2 men" saved them to eat in bed later- to each his own.

                  2. re: redfish62

                    I did this as a kid, but I outgrew it. I think I did because I found food so delicious that I wanted to finish something once I started it, then move on to the next delicious thing.

                    1. re: redfish62

                      I used to do that, too. My mother, who was really into humiliation tactics, used to tell anybody and everybody about it.

                    2. I was actually going to volunteer that i have the opposite "affliction". I detest my food touching, although I am getting better w/ some things such as mashed potatoes and sauce/gravy. As long as said person is eating neatly and in a mannerly way- to each his own. The Husband always says to me when I cringe at some of his food combos, " it all goes to the same place!".

                      1. Aggregeating, banquentire or masticatotalling?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: DonShirer

                          Aggregeating...thanks, Don. Perfect! Put it in the dictionary..

                        2. I wouldn't cal lit a disorder. it's just not the usual state of affairs.

                          For desserts with multiple ingredients like strawberry shortcake with whipped cream, I usually try every possible combination of the ingredients. Then I eat the rest in the tastiest combination. Sometimes a bit of everything is the tastiest.

                          1. It seems to me that eating that way masks or minimizes the taste (and other components, e.g. mouth-feel) of foods.

                            I observed this individual for a while and he continued to do the same thing, bite after bite--a little of food A, a little of B, a little of C, into the mouth//repeat.

                            I had the sense that he must have been trained as a child to eat that way.

                            I personally like to savor each individual item.

                            20 Replies
                            1. re: Howard_2

                              On the flip side, a thoughtfully conceived menu may include discrete items that meld well, on the same forkful?

                              1. re: Veggo

                                I agree that a composed dish should be eaten with all the melding foods in the mouth at once. But, if it's a meat and potatoes meal, I eat food separately.
                                Bite of steak. Bite of baked potato. Bite of asparagus.
                                One of my favorite meals is stuffed cabbage, mashed potatoes and a cucumber salad with sour cream dressing. I start by eating the elements separately, but love love love that as dinner progresses, the food mingles and combines so that my last couple bites are all goo-ed up together. Yum. The taste of the trio surpasses each individual element.

                                1. re: monavano

                                  As two intertwined bodies become three....

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    I eat for texture and temperature and contrast as much as for specific tastes. Your stuffed cabbage meal personifies this, crisp soft sharp mild crumbly smooth creamy etc. I love the idea of composed forkfuls which exactly describes what I am doing with every bite. I will also break it up with one forkful of something on its own, which is part of my meal composition, whether it is in a restaurant or home, a simple sandwich or fabulous meal.

                                    1. re: Qwendy

                                      That's what I do too. Sometimes when there isn't alot of leftovers from dinner, I'll just mix them all together & reheat the next day for lunch. I like a little bit of everything in one bite.

                                2. re: Howard_2

                                  That is actually the way my grandmother taught me to eat meals in a formal "at table" situation - as far as possible, a little of each food per forkful. Also, fork tines pointing down so you had to squish stuff on there with your knife and move very delicately so it didn't all fall off again. It was the Polite Way to Do Things. Perhaps it's a regional / generational thing? I'm English.

                                  1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                    The tines down thing is very British, correct? It looks elegant and I use this method when eating from time to time, but not when eating peas!

                                    1. re: monavano

                                      I believe so. Certainly my US and Canadian friends comment on how strange they find it. It's very useful for spearing larger lumps of meat or veg :) but you end up only eating a few peas per mouthful as you have to spear them on the tines - or glue them on with mashed potato or ketchup :P

                                      I only really do the full Formal Knife and Fork ritual when I'm eating out or in company, though. At home, I shovel and scoop with tines firmly up!

                                      1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                        I like eating steak with the tines down, fork in left hand (I'm right handed). It's so darn efficient!

                                        1. re: monavano

                                          It certainly is that! :P

                                          I can't use a fork in my right hand, despite being right-handed. No problems with a spoon, though. It's strange how that kind of thing works out.

                                          1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                            My dad left handed, 2 sons left handed. Ambidextrous,priceless. My wife claims she can tell my mood by in which hand I hold the fork.

                                            1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                              I'm exactly the same as Ms Biscuit - I'm right-handed, but I need to hold my fork (tines down) in my left hand, knife in my right. I'm impossibly clumsy if I try to eat with my fork in my right hand. Yet I eat soup and cereal with a spoon in my right hand, as you might expect.
                                              I'm American, but I was raised by a Canadian mum and my father was half British, so I suppose this way of eating was inevitable.
                                              I do a little of the deliberate flavour-mixing on the fork, as well.

                                            2. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                              I find it funny your Canadian friends find it strange. My grandmother (born and bred in Canada) eats tines down, as does much of her family. I tend to switch depending on what I'm eating.

                                              1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                                I don't think any "Canadian" who was first and foremost raised a "Brit" would think it strange. I was born in Canada to Brit parents and consider myself as raised Brit. And...that's just how we eat a home style meat and potatoes meal! Same as you make sure to have some noodles and sauce together when you eat pasta, or include a bit of whipped cream with your forkful of pie :)

                                                1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                                  Also surprised to hear of Canadians finding it strange that you use a fork tines down. I've found that method to be fairly common here.

                                              2. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                                I've been told this too, specifically with British food, that it's Proper to pile a little bit of each item onto the back fo the fork for each bite. I think you could only easily do it with the European fork and knife style (tines down for eating, and knife and fork never change hands).

                                                I've always though it sounded both finicky and gross. If everything was meant to be mixed together, why not make a casserole?

                                                1. re: tastesgoodwhatisit

                                                  Eh, I have to assume the way I like to eat food has been informed by the way I was taught to eat food, but I do enjoy the mixing of flavours being under my own control on the fork, rather than all muddled together during the cooking. Sometimes, anyway. I also enjoy a good casserole or stew.

                                                  Yes, it can be finicky and take a lot longer to eat a plate of food. Which isn't always a bad thing :)

                                                2. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                                  Ahh, yes, that sounds familiar. This fellow's father was British, and that's what he does with the tines--pointing down.

                                                  1. re: DunkTheBiscuit

                                                    I was raised this way too (also English). It certainly makes me more conscious of making sure all the flavours and textures on a plate combine well.

                                                3. My Husband usually eats all of one item, then moves onto the next. I think a meal should be eaten all together, a little of this a little of that, not all on the same fork full though.

                                                  1. Can't believe that people think this is weird; this is how Brits eat. You cut a piece of protein, then spear, tines down. Grab a bit of mashed potato or stuffing and smear it on the back of the fork. Add some veg from the plate. Transport to mouth. Once I saw this in action, I adopted it for myself. Very efficient, and it satisfies my desire to have a bit of everything in one bite.

                                                    5 Replies
                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      You beat me to it Pik. Verrry Brrritish. Don't forget to hold the fork upside down in your left hand. I used to eat this way at times, just to irritate my Daughters of the Mayflower MIL. She'd tell me to eat properly and I'd tell her I was, for the Fathers of the Mayflower.

                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                        I eat my peas with honey
                                                        I've done it all my life
                                                        they do taste kind of funny
                                                        but it keeps them on my knife.

                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                          Sounds like an Ogden Nash ditty... :P

                                                          1. re: inaplasticcup

                                                            I thought the same as well. I knew it and googled the first line. Written by some guy named Anonymous.

                                                          2. re: Veggo

                                                            When I first heard that I was quite young, and decided I wanted honey on my peas.

                                                            Ick... Not a successful experiment :P

                                                      2. It's how people ate at hall when I studied at university in England; as others have said above, it's British.

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                          And it carried over to the British Empire-y countries too: NZ, Australia.

                                                        2. Isn't this why people invented Chop Suey?

                                                          1. Don't care what's on the plate, I always eat the mashed potatoes first.

                                                            1. I eat like that, but not always. Steak and potatoes taste a lot better to me when eaten together, so I put a little bit of each in each bite. When I recieve my plate, I usually taste different combinations together and if taste is not improved I go back to eating one thing per bite.

                                                              1. I wonder what he would do at a Korean table that looks like this:

                                                                http://www.fulbright.or.kr/xe/files/a...

                                                                8 Replies
                                                                1. re: joonjoon

                                                                  JJ, thanks for the brightness in the face of so much Korean rain. I miss the food.

                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                    Where are you living now P? 20 years after moving here I still dream about this one gnarly basement dduk boki place I used to frequent in Korea...I've spent much time trying to get mine to taste like theirs but it's never the same.

                                                                    Luckily I live in a part of NJ that's close to plenty of Korean, but some tastes just can't be duplicated.

                                                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                                                      You must live near Edison. I live in Maine in the summer and in New Mexico in the school year. Several good Korean places in Albuquerque; none in Maine. Two of my sons were teaching in Seoul, one still is w/ Korean wife and 2 boys, lives in Songnam. I really like Korean food and cook it a lot. Eldest sends me jarred sauces w/ no English on the label. I open, smell and figure out what it is used for. I had hoped to make it down to central NJ this summer.

                                                                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                        Awesome! Yeah I live close to Edison, so I get the trifecta of being within driving distance to Edison, Fort Lee, and Flushing. That pretty much covers all bases for not only Korean but all the Asian eats you can imagine.

                                                                        I'm originally from Korea but was brought up through an American school system there. Most of my friends from back home are half Koreans - usually military kids. Glad your grandkids are getting some exposure to Korean culture! Let me know if you make it back to CNJ and we can hit up some local spots and see what's in those mystery jars your kids send you. :) It's pretty hard core if you're able/willing to identify Korean sauces by smell! :)

                                                                        1. re: joonjoon

                                                                          Wait you forgot the big Korean resto area around 34 st in Manhattan. BonJovi and I went to the same high school.

                                                                      2. re: joonjoon

                                                                        Former Jersey dweller here- Edison had my all-time favorite name for a trailer park; don't know if it's still there though: "Edison Mobile Estates."

                                                                    2. re: joonjoon

                                                                      I showed The Sprout your link and told her she is probably the only kid in town who could identify the picture. Her response - Oh Mom, Where is that? Can we go? I could go for some Yook Hwae!

                                                                      Missy

                                                                      1. re: joonjoon

                                                                        I would be in heaven!!! I would take a taste of everything, then decide what compliments each other. Where can I get me some of that?

                                                                      2. As Dom DeLuise said in Fatso, "You know something, Junior? You don’t know how to run your plate. You’re thirty-two years old, you don’t know how to run your plate. The omelet is supposed to come out even with the bread."

                                                                        1. I have only seen young kids do that. If it is annoying, then I would just meet him for coffee.
                                                                          Kind of reminds of this young man who cooked for me and then only really ate with his hands; even though it was high-quality, homemade fair, it seemed to lack taste... (I was turned off for good).

                                                                          1. most of the world calls this way of eating 'NORMAL'

                                                                            5 Replies
                                                                            1. re: diana45

                                                                              True, one can spot Americans around the world, holding the fork in the right hand, switching to use a knife. But the Corn Flakes are the dead give away!

                                                                              1. re: diana45

                                                                                'NORMAL' is eating with chop sticks. :-)

                                                                                1. re: condie

                                                                                  apologies condie, should have said western world; but while you're at it, normal is probably using your hands!

                                                                                  1. re: diana45

                                                                                    Of course it is! But only when others aren't looking. We can separate each item from the dinner plate into our palm before gobbling it up. :-)

                                                                              2. not only do I do what OP described, but if I'm more than half way to finishing, I pre-divide or cut every component of the plate so that there's even distribution in every mouthful. I wouldn't want to end up with ample steak in one bite only to find that I've nearly run out for the last 3 bites!

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. Until now, I didn't realize other folks didn't eat this way. I notice citizens of the USA have a tendency not to be very ambitexterous with their knives and forks-- cutting their food up, putting the knife down and then switching hands for the fork. In most other countries its viewed as a bit vulgar. In other countries kids cut their food that way because they haven't developed the necessary skill or coordination to hold large knives and forks concurrently. I wonder if the NOT eating a bit of everything in every mouthful is somehow tied to this unusual way manner of preparing the food on the plate before eating...?

                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: robvious

                                                                                    The switching-fork-to-the right-hand style originated among the prerevolutionary French nobility, and was originally adopted by some upper-class Americans as a sort of affectation. It became a widespread habit and now is identified as the American way of eating.

                                                                                    1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                      I grew up in NY but was born in Ukraine and raised that way, and this is how I eat. I had no idea it was American - I'm just super right-handed and was never taught differently. It does feel kind of awkward but I feel like there's not much I can do about it now...

                                                                                    2. re: robvious

                                                                                      It's most likely considered vulgar by people who think Americans and anything they do is vulgar (or as you implied, have child-like motor skills).

                                                                                      Both methods use both hands, while the American style actually switches the fork from hand to hand - which is closer to the meaning of ambidextrous. Unless you're saying "other countries" are completely arbitrary in their use of right v left for fork and knife, then they're not ambidextrous.

                                                                                      I don't understand what you mean about "preparing" food on the plate. The cook has prepared it, I am eating it. I don't consider cutting the hunk of meat on the plate to be preparation.

                                                                                      I fail to understand how holding the fork upside down is inherently superior - the bowl of the fork is just like the bowl of the spoon; it is designed to hold things. Unless you're stabbing something with the tines, it's actually counter-intuitive to hold the fork tines down, regardless of which hand you use.

                                                                                      1. re: LisaPA

                                                                                        Then again (speaking as an American), the idea that the way Americans do something is inherently superior to the "rest of the world" is part of the impression of vulgarity.

                                                                                        For me, it is less about the switching itself and more about the CLANKING of the utensils that makes all the switching vulgar. All the back and forth (and the fact that the American practice is to prop the utensils half on the plate and half on the table) means that the meal is just... louder... than it needs to be. And let's face it... the very justified opinion in the rest of the world about Americans is that we are loud. I think it's universally (even in the US) thought that loudness is vulgar. It's just in the US we don't notice it as much because it's so prevalent. I've been living and/or traveling abroad for about 25 years now, and still, to this day, when I'm not in the US, I'm just astounded at how QUIET dining is abroad (from the lack of utensil clanking to the sotto voce that is used).

                                                                                      2. re: robvious

                                                                                        Man whenever this subject comes up on Chowhound I feel like I am living in Bizarro World. I was born and raised in the midwest USA and I have NEVER seen anyone switch hands while eating. Everyone I know eats "European style" (didn't even know there was a name for it before I saw it on Chowhound). Maybe I just need to hang out with a better class of people?

                                                                                        1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                          Another American custom is keeping the hands that are not using utensils, out of sight and even on the lap. Cut meat, switch fork to right hand, drop left hand to lap. Really looks weird, affected, and plain awkward to someone accustomed to how people eat elsewhere. Elsewhere, the hands remain in sight, preferably on or above the table, at all times. Customs are interesting.

                                                                                          1. re: PuntaLugano

                                                                                            I recently was heading to Paris and I was reminded by a French friend of mine that yes, it is customary to keep your hands up on the table "in clear view" so it is obvious you aren't trying something suspicious with your other hand other the table! :) She was making a little joke but also being quite serious about the custom to remind me of my manners (not to seem out of place). But I use both hands while eating anyway (fork in left hand, knife in right, certainly no switching involved!) so for me it is a non-issue.

                                                                                      3. A name for it? Probably. There is a name for just about everything. The way one eats is a matter of style and preference.
                                                                                        You eat your way - and I'll eat mine. :-)

                                                                                        1. I'll throw my wrench in for all the one-food-at-a-time folks and mention my way of eating meat, veg and mashed potatoes. I cut up the meat and mix everything together. No, I'm no two years old - I just love it that way. I also do that with over easy eggs, hash browns and breakfast meat. Then I pile it onto the toast.

                                                                                          1. For at least 40 years, I've heard this issue described as "combinationist vs. non-combinationist." I suppose nobody used the term "separationist," since that would imply you were eating Basque food. An extreme non-combinationist would make sure that the separate food items did not touch each other on the plate, lest there be a drop of gravy on a kernel of corn. And an extreme combinationist might, in some cases, stir up all the items on the plate into a de facto casserole, sometimes a frightening sight.

                                                                                            I scanned this thread to see if those terms had appeared and was surprised that they hadn't. That's how I've always heard it described and assumed everyone used those terms.

                                                                                            Me? I'd call myself a semi-combinationist. Some dishes cry out to be united, others repel one another, and I let the food decide which way it wants to go.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: farmertomato

                                                                                              I always mix my food on the fork, for instance, I love to mix my meatloaf or roastbeef with my mashed potatos and corn and It tastes great, I can taste the corn, the mashed potatos and the meat as well and together they all taste great. And yet my daughter and my husband go Ewww, how disgusting, I look at them and say, it all goes in the same place, first you eat a piece of your meat, then then take some corn, then you take some potatoes, but the truth of the matter is they all go in the same place, and it all tastes the same whether you do it all at once or at seperate times, in fact the all together tastes much better., like a piece of meatball and macaroni on the same fork, Mmmm delicious. Everyone has their own way or style of eating and their own taste as well. What ever floats your boat is what I say, but don't make fun of the other person because you don't understand.

                                                                                              1. re: Mamie Glorioso

                                                                                                I don't see where farmertomato made fun of anyone. And it seems he understands both sides of the story...

                                                                                              2. Eating with tines down is usually referred to as eating "European Style." When I married and went to live in Europe, I learned to eat European Style. I continued to do so after I came back to the States. When I'm out in a restaurant, I notice more and more people have adopted this way of eating.
                                                                                                As for eating a forkful of a bit of everything, it depends on what I am eating; and I have found this to be true of people in Europe. I eat a forkful of everything with liver yet eat prime rib by itself. It depends on how I want things to taste and feel in my mouth.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Sunshine11

                                                                                                  This may be "all European," including England, and not just "English." In fact, it may be possible to say that it is "all Western world except North American (and not sure about Canada)." I refer both to eating with knife and fork remaining in use at all times (no switching hands), tines down on the fork (usually), and also to carefully mixing many foods on the fork. I have seen these things as more or less the norm in England, Scotland, France, Germany, Russia, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Austria, Argentina, and Uruguay. I am American, but adopted this way of eating in college, when I first visited Europe; for some reason it immediately seemed more natural. Seems Sunshine11 did the same. I don't know this for a fact, but my guess is that these ways of eating can be traced either to Russia or to France, from which most modern-day table setting, serving and eating "norms" in the Western world derived. (France for obvious reasons, Russia because Talleyrand brought back some "innovations" to France after being stationed in Russia, or at least so we were told by a guide when visiting Talleyrand's chateau in the Loire.) Would be an interesting historical investigation.

                                                                                                  1. re: PuntaLugano

                                                                                                    In the part of Canada I'm from (Nova Scotia), I'd say both tines up and tines down are common, as is switching or not. It's probably 50/50.

                                                                                                2. when i was a kid, living in canada, we grew up using this style of eating. there was no name for it, just good manners. as a adult i moved to the u.s. eventually i quit eating food in that fashion because no one else did that down here. but i still like food combinations on my fork.

                                                                                                  1. The English, European style or Continental, is much more efficient, and makes American style of dropping the knife and switching the fork to the right hand each time of cutting a waste of time. I am Canadian of English and Irish decent, but went to College in the U.S. In the cafeteria they all looked at me rather strangely , so I had to explain the technique. It looks a lot more refined than using your knife to load your fork tines up, and then drop the knife to do the switcheroo!!! Yes it does tell a lot about where you were brought up and what type of table manners were expected from you. In today's fast passed life style, a family meal once a week, all sitting down to eat and enjoy conversion , is a MUST!!!!

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                                                                                                    1. re: BH.

                                                                                                      It only looks more refined because you've decided that's what refined looks like. Using the fork upside down is contrary to its design. Why is it scoop shaped? To scoop things.

                                                                                                    2. My name for this, is eating. I don't find this odd at all. I've seen people eat things both ways. Doesn't bother me a bit. For me, some dishes I eat taking a bite of each item alone, and sometimes I take a bite of multiple items on my plate on one forkful. It depends what I am eating. After all, I do put things on a plate that go well together, and compliment each other. Sometimes even taste better together, IMO.

                                                                                                      I would never say anything about the way some one eats their food. Their could be reasons why they need to eat it the way they do, that you don't know about.

                                                                                                      Table manners, like chewing with your mouth open and 'smacking', not using cutlery and picking up your (boneless) steak to eat with your fingers, when someone can use, but won't use a knife and fork, that drives me nuts.

                                                                                                      Taking a 'composed' bite, wouldn't even make me think twice. I probably wouldn't even notice it.

                                                                                                      1. For that plate of steak, beans and mashed potatoes, I would typically start with eating things seperately in each forkful. But invariably, as the meal progresses, I would find myself starting to get bored with the same tastes (and texture), and proceed to start combining them. For example, beans with the meat juices, potatoes with the meat juices, mashed potatoes with the steak etc.

                                                                                                        Same goes for say, my breakfast plate. First, a taste of everything on their own, then the eggs with the toast, or the ham with the eggs, then everything together etc. That way, it feels that I can maximize the flavour experience. I am greedy that way.

                                                                                                        1. I'm USA born & bred, and I've been doing this for years - and didn't know it was unusual until reading this thread! I like to make my 'perfect bites' as I call them. Which usually includes one piece of everything on my plate!

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                                                                                                          1. re: StephanieTG

                                                                                                            I always enjoyed doing that at Thanksgiving dinner, when there were 7 or 8 items that made a delicious fork-full.

                                                                                                            1. re: StephanieTG

                                                                                                              Yes, the 'perfect bite', indeed. I almost always construct (at least) the last few bites of the meal this way.

                                                                                                            2. I tend to eat with discrete bites- I appreciate the contrast in a sequence of different tastes and textures, and find it more refreshing to my palate.

                                                                                                              That said, I will often move on to combined bites as I progress, depending on what foods are in front of me.

                                                                                                              On the subject of national styles, there's also the old-school German habit of round-the plate eating, eg: a bite of meat, then one of potato, then one of vegetable, usually counterclockwise, repeated in sequence without deviation right up to the final bite. Typically orderly (some might say compulsively so) in line with traditional German culture and mentality. This is how many Germans used to eat; I don't know how prevalent the habit is in modern times, but for a long time this was simply the way it was done.

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                                                                                                              1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                                                                                My parents were big on "eat around your plate" though not particular about which direction. I think this had something to do with children who would leave their spinach (or whatever) and then refuse to eat it because "I'm full."

                                                                                                                I was going to reply to the original poster that this piling thing is very British, but lots of people beat me to it!

                                                                                                                1. re: Cliocooks

                                                                                                                  I'm American but have lived in the UK since I was 27. Pretty ambidexterous.
                                                                                                                  But the put several things on the fork thing I've only tried since watching the UK tv show MasterChef. It works for some things, not others, but the judges on MasterChef obviously think that's the way a meal should be composed so it's probably my meals!

                                                                                                              2. In my family it was called the "proper" way to eat and I would be scolded for eating foods separately.
                                                                                                                For years the only meal I would "combine" was Thanksgiving - probably because I discovered that if the turkey was dry, it would go down easier when combined with mashed potatoes.
                                                                                                                These days I find myself combining more often - probably because the little voice in my head says, "Mom would want me to".

                                                                                                                EDIT: Now that I think about it, kinda makes me wonder why "dunking" was taboo.

                                                                                                                1. “Your reflection reflects in everything you do, and everything you do reflects on you.” Hal David, Lyricist
                                                                                                                  We learn our basic manners, and how to handle our chopsticks and eating utensils in the family or culture of our background. Even within that framework we consciously or unconsciously develop our own style that in some way identifies us as individuals.
                                                                                                                  The name for this ‘style’ is our own name.

                                                                                                                  1. Being from New Zealand, and in accord with other postings, this is how I and most of my compatriots always eat. I think it's a great way to eat because you can make each forkful the same or different.

                                                                                                                    It's also good for making kids eat their veges if you are having a basic Western meat-and-3-vege dinner because they don't have to wade through a huge pile of steamed broccoli on its own, but they can make it more appealing by having a mouthful of it with other things on the plate.

                                                                                                                    Also, isn't this way of eating the point of the culinary arts? Making a dish that's composed of parts that enhance or complement each other rather then just individual parts that stand alone? I remember lots of comments from judges on various food shows (Top Chef springs to mind as one) where they say things like, "The components on this plate just don't go well together." or " When I tasted the meat on its own I wasn't impressed, but when I had it with the onions, the flavours just made sense."