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Eating hamburgers and frites with your mitts or utensils; a cultural difference?

Today, as I was eating at JDD's Aurelie Chaigneau's latest find, Le Ruisseau in the 18th, a plain and simple burger joint between my flat and my gym, I noted that a 5-some of affluent looking young-folk all ate their burgers and frites with knifes and forks, never touching the food with their hands whereas a 3-some of equally affluent French guys who looked like Djokovic's brothers never touched their utensils. I'll wager that all of them have been to Vegas, Tucson and Brooklyn.
French folks - Parnassien, Soph and Soup, what'd'ya'think?

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  1. As a French folk (or maybe as a slightly OCD about having my hands clean...) I don't mind eating burgers, chicken, french fries, pie, etc. with my hands, at home... where I can immediately go wash my hands afterward.

    But in a restaurant, I'd rather not... but that's just me...

    1. I have burgered with a native Parisian who made a point of stopping to buy a proper place setting of flatware before we visited an In-and-Out. That's class.

      18 Replies
        1. re: jock

          " OCD for sure."

          Pas du tout. Just French, as suggested by John T above.

          1. re: mangeur

            I spent a lot of growing-up years in Buenos Aires, which is pretty European, and there it was expected that if an intact piece of fruit was served for dessert (peach, orange, pear), it was to be eaten with a knife a fork and never touched with the hands. Sandwiches were often eaten with knife and fork. I heard plenty of comments about Americans being like monkeys when they ate food out of their hands. And jock's comment is typical of Americans, who assume their way of doing things to be the best and only. Never the twain shall meet.

            1. re: Querencia

              I don't think either way is wrong or right/ better or worse. I do find it amusing a Frenchman/woman wouldn't be able to do "as the Americans do" in the context of eating fast food burgers. How would we feel about a European visitor to another country where the local cuisine is eaten with the hands, such as Ethiopia, insisting on flatware? Somewhere between pretentious and insulting, I suspect.

              1. re: julesrules

                Just to remind you that the two French persons on this board have repeated that they did not care one way or the other how others eat their burger. Hope this is acceptable to you.

              1. re: LulusMom

                "or Canadian."
                Wait a minute, I'm one of those folks who were/are United Empire Loyalists. We're nice people, we say please and thank you and we like terrible food except for Tim Hortons donuts and maple syrup.

          2. re: mangeur

            imho, not class -- more like overkill. burgers were never meant to be eaten with a knife and fork. A patty melt, yes on the knife and fork.

            1. re: ChefJune

              We aren't talking Americans here. We're talking people who have grown up with a strictly enforced code of dining protocol. In the situation I described, it seemed perfectly reasonable and natural.

              Ribs weren't meant for knife and fork approach either, and I don't eat them that way at home. But I do out.

              1. re: mangeur

                "We're talking people who have grown up with a strictly enforced code of dining protocol."
                So, why did 1/2 follow the rules and 1/2 (equally French and affluent) not hesiate to eat everything with their fingers?

                1. re: mangeur

                  I don't know where you're from, but I'm from Chicago where there is a fairly strong "ribs culture," and I have never seen anyone eat spare ribs or rib tips with knife and fork.

                  1. re: ChefJune

                    Those paper towels on the table sure ain't gonna soil themselves!

                1. re: monavano

                  It's done.

                  Did you read Sistereurope's post?

                2. re: mangeur

                  If he's the native Parisian I think you're talking about, maybe we should specify that he was eating his In-N-Out without buns?

                  1. re: souphie

                    That would make a huge difference.

                3. Had dinner with a French friend on Friday (in Paris), The specials included burger and frites. I asked him if he was going to eat it with his hands like he used to (he used to live in the US), and he said I don't know and looked pained, so I let him off the hook and said OK, you can use your utensils. I looked around and everyone else (this resto was deep in the 20th = no tourists I'm sure) was doing the same, knife and fork in hand.
                  And on a related note, I just learned that I have made a faux pas every time I have ever eaten a salad in France! You use your knife and fork to FOLD the lettuce, don't cut with the knife!!

                  18 Replies
                  1. re: sistereurope

                    Sister, I have heard that the "do not cut salad with knife" rule started when knives were carbon steel and discolored/stained with acid. Or not...

                    1. re: mangeur

                      I learned the same thing. And when hosting and preparing the salad, we must remember to tear the lettuce into small enough bits so that the guest is not stuck with big leaves sticking out of both sides of the mouth.

                      1. re: mangeur

                        That's also where fish knives come from, since fish is often served with an acidic sauce.

                        1. re: bcc

                          As Årte Johnson used to say, way before your time, "Verrrrrry interesting." Thanks for this.

                      2. re: sistereurope

                        Even this lowly American was taught to never use a knife to eat salad.

                        1. re: LulusMom

                          but in Europe, you are *supposed* to use your fork. (it's way easier)

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            well yeah, I use a fork for my salad. I'm not a savage.

                            1. re: LulusMom

                              Gah. Sorry -- doing too many things at once.

                              Using a *knife* and fork to eat salad is considered proper behaviour in Europe, and quite frankly, I still use a knife in the US, because it's just so much easier to eat a salad.

                              You do not, however, cut the lettuce. you fold it onto the fork with the knife.

                              It's quite graceful and certainly more elegant than trying to stuff a wayward sprig of frisee into your mouth while it smears dressing across your cheek.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                I agree with Parigi that salad problems originate in the kitchen. Whole romaine leaves are lovely but not gracious.

                                1. re: mangeur

                                  but the only way to guarantee that is if you're eating at home.

                                  Sadly, not everybody who makes salads agrees -- so it's just a lot easier to use a knife and fork.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    Totally. In the US eating a salad at a restaurant it is almost impossible to not use a knife to cut the lettuce - huge pieces.

                                    1. re: LulusMom

                                      Salads of all sorts (Caesar, wedge salad, salade composée, etc.) can be eaten with a fork and knife, and you cut them to your heart's content. The "no-cut" rule applies only to plain green salad with vinaigrette (lettuce, romaine, etc.).

                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                        I know it is hard to believe, but even green salad leaves here are often not torn small enough to eat without spraying vinaigrette all over oneself. And no matter how often I get on my soapbox about it, it stays the same.

                                        1. re: LulusMom

                                          that's why using the knife to fold the lettuce is such a great option.

                                          1. re: sunshine842

                                            It's an option, as is cutting it (which I don't find inelegant).

                        2. re: sistereurope

                          interesting side note...

                          at a work dinner once, the reaction a french cowoker when presented with a wedge salad was priceless. jaw dropped and mouth open for at least 3 minutes

                          1. re: sistereurope

                            I know I've seen this many times.

                            Serve a French person a wedge salad and watch their head implode. it can be quite amusing

                            1. re: DukeFan

                              After the implosion, is a mop and bucket used to clean up, or gloved hands?

                          2. Why o why are discussing as though there were such a thing as hamburger etiquette ?Just chew with mouth closed and do not spit at table. Fork no fork, knife no knife. Are we going to research how the Court of Habsburg ate the eff-ing burger ?

                            7 Replies
                            1. re: Parigi

                              "the Court of Habsburg eat the eff-ing burger"
                              So if we don't discuss this we're forced to discuss SoPi or Chez L'Ami Jean or where to take Granny in the 6th.
                              Somewhere in the three free silly newspapers I read daily it pointed out that the three hot food items in Europe today are all thought to be Yankee but are instead named after German spots - Hamburg(ers), Frankfurt(ers) and Berlin(oises) - huh? Donuts are from Berlin?

                                1. re: John Talbott

                                  In Spanish a jelly doughnut is a "berlina" so, maybe so. I think that in the US we generally think of doughnuts as coming to us from Holland. They are mentioned on a Dutch tea table in Washington Irving's story about the Headless Horseman---called "oily cakes".

                                  1. re: Querencia

                                    At least he didn't use the literal translation: "oily balls".

                                  2. re: John Talbott

                                    "we're forced to discuss SoPi or Chez L'Ami Jean"
                                    Anything but that. Surely a fate worse than death.

                                  3. re: Parigi

                                    Let me bring this thread back on topic, that of where to find the sweetest shawarma guys in Paris.

                                    When the wait at Frenchie-to-Go promised to turn us into the Bickersons, we settled for a sandwich at the end of the block. Shabby little shop but that's normal. Ordered the usual sandwich: double harissa on the sandwich, 4 spoonsful on the paper for the frites. Guy looks at me and grins. Noticed some interesting grilled long green peppers. Asked him if they were hot. Oui. Really hot? Little shrug and grin. Did I want some? Non, merci.

                                    When my tray arrives at the table, I had a heap of the requested harissa and three peppers. He's watching. I nod thank you. Try one. Not bad. Eat one. He is ecstatic.

                                    Turned in a clean tray except for the bread. They sang out their thanks and farewells. Oh, and we were the only peskies in the place.

                                    Use knife and fork to eat your heart out, Frenchie.

                                    Paristanbul
                                    37 rue Petits Carreaux

                                  4. Another thing to keep in mind is that until recently (when "gourmet burgers" started making their own buns or having them made by bakers) burgers were made with shitty buns ! So you either went to McDo, and had an altogether shitty burger, but ate it with your hands, or you went to a bistro-ish place, with ok burgers but with buns so soaked in meat juice that eating them by hand would be one messy task.

                                    French people do eat with their hands, sandwiches, or fast food (falafel, burgers etc.)... it's just that we're used to big messy burgers with soggy bottoms...

                                    21 Replies
                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                      "French people do eat with their hands"
                                      Of course, and one of my greatest memories is watching a bunch of suit-and-tie Ministry types in the 8th learning how to hammer hard-shell Maryland crabs.

                                      1. re: Rio Yeti

                                        And the proper way of eating asparagus IS with the hands.

                                        1. re: Parigi

                                          Where?
                                          Just curious.
                                          I eat with my hands, but never asparagus, unless I'm sneaking a stalk or two out of the oven/grill.

                                          1. re: monavano

                                            At Grand Véfour no less.
                                            I was served asparagus with no silverware, just a finger bowl. -- Not that the maître D had taken one look at me and figured I was a savage (which he probably had mais bon). Others who had ordered asparagus were also served that way.
                                            Not just the Grand Véfour, I have seen this in other "hautes" (and less hautes) places.
                                            At dinner in many private homes (I can't say ALL), one is also expected to eat asparagus with the hands.

                                            1. re: Parigi

                                              Thanks.

                                              I guess it's considered très chic.

                                              Ooh la la!

                                              Now, can we do that in the States, please?

                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                There is a mention of this in some English novel, I am thinking Cronin but may disremember, when a man takes his estranged wife out to lunch and feels disgust when she eats asparagus with her hands and drops sauce on her fur neckpiece.

                                              2. re: monavano

                                                Oh man, Parigi, I'm totally with you on everything on this thread. I was also taught to eat asparagus with my fingers - which totally appalled my Scottish in-laws when they witnessed it.

                                              3. re: Parigi

                                                This thread is getting valuable.

                                                I would agree with you when it is served "nature". But when it is sauced or served with a garnish, say shavings of jambon or a poached egg, does it not fall under different rules?

                                                1. re: Parigi

                                                  And at Prunier many years ago I learned how to eat mussels by watching a very sophisticated looking lady using her fingers and an empty mussel shell to pick out and eat the next mussel.

                                                  1. re: mexivilla

                                                    Yup, breaks the stereotype doesn't it? And a very efficicient method if you select the biggest one to start.

                                                    1. re: mexivilla

                                                      I'm gobsmacked: is there any other way to eat mussels? I mean, did anyone manage to eat them with knife and fork?

                                                      1. re: Ptipois

                                                        Oh, yes! People quite often stare at us as we use the shell-as-pincer method.

                                                        1. re: Ptipois

                                                          with fork only, prior to having been let in on the far-better method of using an empty shell.

                                                    2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                      When I was a tyke, a hamburger was 4cm thick, and that included the bun, patty, cheese, lettuce, tomato and a couple of dill pickle slices. It cost 35¢ and you bought it at Clif's Hamburger stand 'cause McDonalds hadn't yet come to town. You could easily eat it in hand.

                                                      But today's monster burgers require deconstructing, knife and fork in hand, after tossing one of the slices of bun. To me, they defeat the spirit of the thing.

                                                      1. re: mangeur

                                                        It literally grosses me out when sandwiches are made so thick, you'd have to unhinge your jaw to shovel it in.

                                                          1. re: monavano

                                                            Me too. That's why I have no compunction about using k and f to get the job done. Maybe I'm just pretentious.

                                                            1. re: mangeur

                                                              I enjoy eating a burger with my hands- I enjoy that tactile aspect. But, if the bugger starts to fall apart on me, then I pick up the utensils.

                                                              I have my limits.
                                                              And, my pride ;-)

                                                          2. re: mangeur

                                                            "But today's monster burgers require deconstructing"
                                                            Good point.
                                                            With a childhood burger one could get one's mitts around it because it wasn't huge, had no lettuce, hothouse tomato slices or silly sauce added, but now with Super-Size Me, one almost has to cut it with a knife, add catsup to the sides, utilize 3-5 napkins and guard your (that is my) white pants.

                                                            1. re: John Talbott

                                                              That is why I love to serve bison, deer and caribou mini-burgers to visitors from La Vieille France.

                                                        1. A parallel question, how do you eat a Shawarma? As a sandwich or deconstructed? I know how it is meant to be eaten but mileage varies it seems.

                                                          35 Replies
                                                            1. re: Parigi

                                                              Ah Mangeur. Good Question,
                                                              Because, as is famously known, I don't venture outside my flat after 5 PM, I sometimes buy "sandwiches" after my lunch for the evening meal. With shawarma and gyros, I ask to have them deconstructed and if they look doe-eyed at me, I haul out my ziplocks and do it myself.
                                                              Back home I reconstruct them.

                                                              1. re: John Talbott

                                                                Why do you have them deconstructed?
                                                                Also, why do you not leave your flat after 5pm?

                                                                  1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                                                                    "Why do you have them deconstructed?"
                                                                    So they don't get limp and soggy and yucky.
                                                                    "Also, why do you not leave your flat after 5pm?"
                                                                    Ah, I have a rare condition, Sanguivoriphobia, which is not in DSM-5, which forces me to stay home, not eat at restaurants at 3x the price of lunch nor schlep to some other godforsaken quartier, even with cherished friends who are super chef-cooks. It's tough but I manage.

                                                                  2. re: John Talbott

                                                                    I think you mean deer-in-headlight rather than doe-eyed. I know it well. It's the French version of wtf.

                                                                    I deconstruct sandwiches if they are huge and messy but also because I am after the filling, not the bread. I have taught my taco man at home to make mine with one tortilla. Who needs two tortillas for a taco? One tortilla, two scoops cabeza!

                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                      "I think you mean deer-in-headlight"
                                                                      A little diversion but still in the vein of cultural differences, "lapin"/ rabbit-- or François Hollande at press conferences-- rather than deer (in the headlights) for the equivalent expression in France.

                                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                                        nah, Hollande is a possum in the headlights. (I have *always* thought he looked like a possum)

                                                                         
                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                          sunshine, sorry... there are no possums in France so, for the sake of "terroir", we'll limit the description to certain American politicians from the south. For François Hollande, maybe a "hérisson"/ hedgehog with a receding quill-line fits better. But oops, that might be confusing... there's already a prickly UMP senator called Pierre Hérisson from Haute-Savoie (i.e. almost Switzerland and therefore humourless). So we are back to bunny for Hollande, no ?

                                                                          1. re: Parnassien

                                                                            Hérisson has too much of a smart glint in his eyes. Back to bunny if you wish, but bunnies are too cute.

                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                              Julie Gayet thought he was cute ... and he's certainly more cuddly than Sarko.

                                                                              (Strange how our attention wanders from hamburgers.)

                                                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                Do you see Julie Gayet written there?
                                                                                (slaps forehead)

                                                                            2. re: Parnassien

                                                                              eh, so opossums don't belong in France....

                                                                              (since when does the natural range of a mammal preclude its comparison to someone's appearance?)

                                                                              No, not a bunny. He looks like a possum. Kinda acts like one, too. Not cute. Not cuddly.

                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                Maybe he's just playing possum?

                                                                  3. re: mangeur

                                                                    If it's a sandwich: hands. Shawarma plate? Knife and fork. Or spork.

                                                                    1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                      Isn't a Shawrma a sandwich? In Turkey they are street food so definitely hands (and the best bit is the chilli sauce that trickles down your forearms and drips off your elbows).

                                                                      1. re: PhilD

                                                                        No. It refers to the spit-roasted meat.

                                                                        Though it is frequently served in sandwiches, this is not the only way to eat it.

                                                                        1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                          Isn't that like saying a hamburger isn't a flattened piece of beef but a person who comes from Hamburg....?

                                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                                            While I hope you were being sarcastic... to be perfectly correct: no.

                                                                            1. A Hamburger may be a person from Hamburg, but it's also capitalized and pronounced differently (as it's German).

                                                                            2. Plenty of places serve shawarma as either a sandwich or a plate with various sides. Same goes for gyros, döner, donair, etc.

                                                                            3. A burger is a burger. It isn't a "flattened piece of beef" either.

                                                                            1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                              Actually I wasn't. Whilst its true a sharma can be served with the bread or without the bread it is also true most are served rolled in pitta, or stuffed in a pitta pocket. Thus most people use the term to mean the sandwich even though it has multiple uses - a bit like the use of the word kebab.

                                                                              I am not German so pronounce words like Hamburger, Frankfurter, Berliner etc as other English speakers would.

                                                                              And yes I know its not technically flattened beef but I was in a hurry.....

                                                                              1. re: PhilD

                                                                                Actually I think yakionigiri is right. People typically will take shawarma as a sandwich "to go", and eat all of its components in a plate if they sit down at the restaurant. Shawarma refers to the way the meat is cooked, not the way it is served, whereas a hamburger does refer to the dish itself, not just the patty (although sometimes a beef patty will be called a hamburger...).

                                                                                1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                  Maybe true - but aren't 99% served to go as street food....? Same argument for a hamburger, designed to be held and eaten with hands (and probably 99% in France served by McDo's or Quick).

                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                    "but aren't 99% served to go as street food....?"

                                                                                    Honestly no.
                                                                                    Whether you're talking Shawarma, Gyros, or Doner Kebab, I would say that 75% are sold as sandwiches, and the rest as plates... In fact, if you don't take it to go and eat at the restaurant, you will usually notice that the majority of people are having them in plates (or at least 50-50).

                                                                                    I'm not saying this to geek out on the actual percentage, because obviously these are just intuitions, but 99% seems way exaggerated.

                                                                                    1. re: PhilD

                                                                                      As Ptipois and Rio Yeti confirm, this isn't really the case at all. Even for take out, I often prefer a box of meat with salad, pickles and sauce to eat with a fork (it's also less messy). It's frequently eaten this way outside of Paris, especially in North America. I don't think the Halal Guys in NYC would consider sandwiches their best selling items.

                                                                                      I'd say shawarma is less of a burger and more of a hot dog: a burger is a specific thing. A hamburger steak is not really a burger, though they share the same name. The humble hot dog is a versatile ingredient, and even has many mobile versions. You can also shape it like an octopus and put it in a bento.

                                                                                      1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                        I order and deconstruct a sandwich because it is the right amount of food for me and saves me several €€ from the plate price.

                                                                                        Why pay more for what you don't want? Why eat it like a sandwich when you don't want the bread?

                                                                                        1. re: yakionigiri

                                                                                          It probably depends where you come from. I gave eaten them in many cities around the world including Turkey and Greece and most are served as street food. Yes, there are restaurants that serve them on a plate but most are wrapped.

                                                                                          I do know the meat is called a shawarma but it's also the term for the sandwich they are completely interchangeable terms. And as most are eaten take out I still maintain it's food to eat with hands.

                                                                                          1. re: PhilD

                                                                                            No question that all that we have been talking about started out at hand-held street food. Hot dogs, burritos, tacos, grinders, heros, andouillette on a bun... Eating them with a knife and fork is either a convenience for those who don't want to eat the whole thing as presented or a carry-over from mama and the matron at school lunches.

                                                                                              1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                Please tell me no one eats a hot dog with a k and f?

                                                                                                1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                  I sometimes do. Did Martha's say no-no ? Mince.

                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                    I can't even imagine how that would look.

                                                                                                  2. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                    I deconstruct andouillette-on-a-bun when I have it. I just don't like the amount of bread one consumes in an almost foot long baguette sandwich.

                                                                                                    Have been known to eat the huge quantity of salad out of my giant turkey hot dog at my Sunday flea market. Mohamed even brings mine with a fork! He piles on lettuce, tomato, onion rings, pickle slices, jalapeno, sweet pepper, cilantro and the thing is 4 inches across.

                                                                                                2. re: PhilD

                                                                                                  I've also eaten them in Greece, Turkey and the Middle East, and have found that, lo and behold, they are served in forms other than the sandwich.

                                                                                                  People also call a falafel sandwich a falafel, though we all know that falafel refers to the fried chick peas. It's a case of synecdoche.

                                                                                                  You can maintain whatever you want: from your first point, I was clarifying that all shawarma sandwiches are shawarma, but not all shawarma is a shawarma sandwich. Even the mighty Wikipedia admits that it is frequently eaten in many different forms... even in Turkey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doner_kebab.

                                                                                          2. re: PhilD

                                                                                            Yakionigiri is right. Shawarma does not refer to the sandwich but to the meat that's frequently (but not always) put inside, whether it's lamb, beef or chicken (chicken my favorite incidentally, and a good one is hard to find).
                                                                                            It may be served as a sandwich or on a plate with a bit of salad, pickles and condiments, including garlic paste. That's how I like it.

                                                                              2. I think it's matter of practicality rather than etiquette. If it's a simple hamburger, I use my hands for both burger and fries. If it's messy and might dribble down my shirt, I use a knife and fork. And if I use my knife and fork for the hamburger, I also eat the frites the same way. What is bad table manners in hunching over your plate to gobble your food... but again not a hard and fast rule if eating pasta or ethnic foods.

                                                                                Eating salad is also simple practicality. Using the utensils in the European way, it's so much easier to use the knife to fold the lettuce and other ingredients into a neat little package. Asparagus is also a handjob unless messy.

                                                                                However, there may be some class distinctions or prejudices at work here. I once heard an anti-immigrant guy ranting about foreigners... one of his complaints was that "they" eat with their hands. And now that I think about it, there might be even be a peculiar but hardly fixed political divide. Gauchistes eat with their hands on occasion... right-wingers, very rarely. Just joking (sorta).

                                                                                And what about the clumsy American reliance on the fork rather than spoon for eating dessert ? What's up with that ?

                                                                                23 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                  WOW
                                                                                  Such a long thread about one of the only foodstuffs that don't require manners!

                                                                                  1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                    I think that common sense was left on the shelf at times. If food is served in such a way that it can't be easily approached (such as the towering plates of the '90s), it needs be knocked down or deconstructed. If you can't get your head around it in a way that doesn't compromise your white pants or tablemates, it needs to be deconstructed. Dining, eating is not a paleo contest.

                                                                                    1. re: mangeur

                                                                                      When I write "don't require manners", it goes both ways, meaning that using fingers or fork-and-knife is a non-issue. When I have a plate of frites, I eat half of them with my fingers and the other half with a fork.

                                                                                    2. re: Ptipois

                                                                                      Compared to some recent more pedantic threads, not long at all. Not naming names. (Hint: Italy).

                                                                                      1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                        Now you MUST be Ad Homineming me me me.

                                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                                          I'm sure Parn wouldn't dare adhominem Cixi.

                                                                                          1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                            Aiya, where are you two saboteurs français going with this? Now I am waiting for the racial purity of Paris hamburgers to be questioned.

                                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                              I've renamed Cixi (aka Parigi)... she's now She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed.

                                                                                                1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                  You guys are all wrong ! I have never seen a chef outside of Hamburg cook a decent Hamburger... it must be something special they have in their blood...

                                                                                                  1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                    Rio
                                                                                                    Rubbish... obviously you've never had a real "hamburger" from Konya, Turkey where they originated in 1244.

                                                                                                    (Evil grin)

                                                                                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                      Buncha heretics !
                                                                                                      Shaosan, in Hunan, the Eff-ing Middle Kingdom, is the birthplace of Mao and the Hamburger (would make a great punk band name…).
                                                                                                      In fact I have been seething in silent contempt: why, no one evokes the orthodoxy of eating a burger. With chopsticks of course !

                                                                                                      1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                        Not so. Everybody knows this so-called Mao hamburger was just an inferior and under-seasoned water-buffalo meat patty introduced to southern China by Egyptian sailors blown off course on their way to sell pyramids to what is now Mexico.

                                                                                                        1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                          Now I officially love this thread more than I love the restaurant that John Talbott does not want me to name ever.

                                                                                                          1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                            I know you guys think this is funny, but I'm dead serious. I've been to Hamburg, and this Hamburger guy showed me his family tree... he told me he was a rare breed whose bloodline had never been soiled by alien blood-cells.

                                                                                                            Every time he makes a burger, he adds a couple of drops of his blood (that he freezes in ice-cubes for better conservation).

                                                                                                            The taste is amazing, it's like Kobe beef on steroids, it's umami kingdom, it's pure bliss... this is eating a true Hamburger.

                                                                                                            1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                              O Rio, Rio... I've got bad news for you. Your Hamburg guy is now in a convalescence spa in Baden-Baden... severe anemia... and is banned from from making burgers and blood ice cubes for the rest of his life... doctor's orders.

                                                                                                              1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                Rio dude: Did you notice his great-great-great-great-great-…-grandfather's name ? Hans Friederich Wang. I rest my case.

                                                                                                              2. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                "I officially love this thread"
                                                                                                                See we can have fun without naming where to get the "best" whatever or a bite to eat Sunday night after midnight in the 16th or or or......

                                                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                  We were having fun not with your subject, sorriest, but with a 3- or 4-way adhomineming in order to avoid your subject.

                                                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                    Just wait until the Sciences Po exchange students find these threads and start asking about where they can eat at the Cité universitaire. Must be authentic, 3-star BBQ on campus and fit into their food budget (1€/day).

                                                                                                2. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                  That was what I said upthread.But John replied that if we don't talk about this, what do you want to talk about? Chez L'ami Jean ?
                                                                                                  So I humbly shut up and continued to watch the train wreck.

                                                                                                  1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                    We could talk for instance about croque-madame, or lettuce leaves underneath grilled steaks, or buying safou fruit on the sidewalks at Château-Rouge, or the imminent opening of a Peruvian-inspired restaurant serving guinea-pig in Paris, and so many other things. Can't figure out why this non-issue is endearing to our JT.
                                                                                                    John, sabotaging topics since the 1920s :)

                                                                                                3. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                  You might be (sort of) joking, but you're right. Eating with one's hands or off the knife is indeed something you would almost never see from a right-winger. Unless they're of the Americanophile Sarkozist variety, in which case it would be a mark of cosmopolitanism to eat American foods the American way.

                                                                                                  1. re: PhilD

                                                                                                    About anything. We have more regional and socio-economic differences than any country I can think of. We are not a melting pot but rather a tossed salad.

                                                                                                  2. Demiglace burgers in Japan? Chopsticks.
                                                                                                    Burger I can eat with my hands? Hands.
                                                                                                    Monstrosity requiring the jaws of a goblin shark? Knife and fork.

                                                                                                    1. Hands. I can't use a knife and fork so well. I also have poor handwriting and occasionally people at other tables can hear me having a good time when I go out to restaurants in France. I know this can be upsetting to some people. I'm so full of shame....

                                                                                                        1. Mister Talbott sir...
                                                                                                          Today I went to Le Ruisseau, and grabbed a burger to go. I ate it with my hands... but I'm here to seek counsel from the venerable one...

                                                                                                          How, oh how, do you keep your beard from becoming a burger festival ?

                                                                                                          I've washed my hands, I washed my mouth, I washed my beard... and still I feel like there must be a bit of protein or of ketchup hiding between two hairs...

                                                                                                          Maybe burgers and beards or not meant for one another, or maybe I lack the proper american technique...

                                                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                              Although Parigi's China-centric theory is quite erroneous, it might help explain why so many Chinese guys are beardless.

                                                                                                              1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                                Yes, because my subjects are closet hamburger devotees.

                                                                                                              2. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                "How, oh how, do you keep your beard from becoming a burger festival ?"
                                                                                                                Easy I had my beard cut first.

                                                                                                              3. "Let me bring this thread back on topic,"
                                                                                                                Excuuuussse me.
                                                                                                                The dumb OP never thought that his original socio-gastro-cultural question would garner over 100 replies at this moment.
                                                                                                                I say we do this sort of thing more often, who needs more Maceo, Chez Denise, L'Ami Jean testimonials?
                                                                                                                Let's have more fun, and spread our wings.
                                                                                                                We're going to the newly renovated Clown Bar tmrw, all are invited (on your own sleeve of course.)
                                                                                                                John Talbott, himself, approved this ad.

                                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                  Another vote for more fun! All in favor of "spread wings" say "Aye".

                                                                                                                  1. re: John Talbott

                                                                                                                    John, fasten your seat belt because Clown Bar is a wild ride. With Pierre Jancou, Ewen Lemoigne, and Sven Chartier whispering inspirations in his ear, the Japanese chef takes you on a whirlwind tour of modern cuisine. It took my brain a little while to adjust and to realize most of it was a real wow. And interlocking recent threads here, they serve an escargot dish (which I didn't like at all... but then, I tend not to appreciate escargots however cooked) that features live snails cooked just before serving.

                                                                                                                    Holding breath until I read your review !! And Rio Yeti's too.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Parnassien

                                                                                                                      Actually, three of us loved the beignets of formerly live escargots and poulpe and langoustines and duck and lieu jaune and brains and cheese and tarts. I didn't think it was wild food, just exciting and the word has already gotten out because it was overflowing with fellow bloggers, food-nuts and at least one well-known chef. Only problem, we had a deuce of a time getting a reservation via telephone until one of us (who lives nearby) dropped by. Shade's of Aki.

                                                                                                                  2. There was of course the very pipole story of Cécilia Ciganer, then (still) married to Nicolas Sarkozy, decidedly unenthusiastic of a hamburger and hotdog feast chez les Bush, in Kennebunkport.

                                                                                                                    She was taken ill with an "angine blanche" (?) but later seen at a restaurant with her daughter enjoying lobster, as all European visitors to Maine - or Atlantic Canada, or Eastern Québec - aim to do on their trips.

                                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                      Not very First-Ladylike of her, but she was probably already in the screwing-with mode, screwing with her Fu.Ex.Hu.

                                                                                                                    2. To repeat the constant refrain - I am bringing this back on subject.
                                                                                                                      True story: a legal colleague of my husband in London was under consideration to represent a large US firm in an international court case. He was flown to NY for an interview with the big wigs of the company. At lunchtime they took a break at a local resto known for its burgers. Going with the flow, he too ordered a burger. But he ate it with his fork.
                                                                                                                      He did not get the case.

                                                                                                                      18 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                                                                                                        "But he ate it with his fork. He did not get the case."

                                                                                                                        It could be because he ate hamburger with his fork, or spit at table, or pinched the waiter's ass.
                                                                                                                        Have you correlated it with Nicolas Cage movies and swimming pool drownings ?
                                                                                                                        http://www.avclub.com/article/theres-...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                          My posting was the victim of brevity. I did not go into the fact that the agent from the NYC firm, when speaking with the clerk of the UK barrister's chambers involved, actually cited the fact that eating his hamburger with knife and fork was a signal that the lawyer did not appreciate the subtleties of American culture, and would therefore not be suitable to represent them.

                                                                                                                          1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                                                                                                            "subtleties of American culture"

                                                                                                                            Now there's a contradiction in terms...

                                                                                                                            I'm proud to be an American, but subtlety isn't really one of our stronger points.

                                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                              *spits wine at screen in laughter*

                                                                                                                            2. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                                                                                                              He didn't sue them for discrimination?

                                                                                                                              1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                That's not discrimination, but a deduction that the British guy didn't meet their requirements.

                                                                                                                                They didn't say that they wouldn't hire a British guy, just not *this* British guy.

                                                                                                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                  You are right sunshine. They went on to hire a barrister from another UK chambers.
                                                                                                                                  And sorry to be a pedant, but "subtleties" was in relation to the culture, not to individuals. I think it fair to say that all cultures have their subleties to the uninitiated and/or the inquisitive.

                                                                                                                                  1. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                                                                                                                    I would guess the reason they gave was simply a excuse. Maybe they simply liked the other candidate better. So probably not wise to read too much into it.

                                                                                                                                  2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                    I was being facetious (his being a barrister and all); guess I should have inserted a smiley to that effect.

                                                                                                                                    Lots of people don't get taken on due to poor or odd table habits.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                      I used to know a sales manager who would send his team members to etiquette classes because he was such a believer in table manners.

                                                                                                                                      The really surprising thing was how many of them he had to send....he didn't fancy himself Emily Post -- but he had a stream of guys who were brilliant salesmen and utter pigs at table.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                        This isn't news. Companies have been sponsoring dining classes for decades. Business lunches can be a mine field for those not used to high-end formalities. Business dinners can be catastrophic. And we think that dining classes for 6 year olds are pretentious!!. Perhaps not. Of course best to be taught at home, but we all have to admit that the modern (American) home can be more fragmented than cohesive.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                          and this was 20-some years ago.

                                                                                                                                          He figured it was cheaper to teach manners to a great salesman than to try to teach a guy with great manners how to sell.

                                                                                                                                          (I've been known to send guys to English and writing classes....)

                                                                                                                                          1. re: mangeur

                                                                                                                                            Some time ago I read excerpts from a French formal court etiquette book written in the 18th century. It said: "Do not blow your nose in the tablecloth. Do not play trumpet when sitting at table."

                                                                                                                                            1. re: Ptipois

                                                                                                                                              Sh*t, there goes my normal entertainment routine.

                                                                                                                                          2. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                            Extremely important in terms of international relations. Can make or break all sorts of deals, whether business or between states and governments.

                                                                                                                                            1. re: lagatta

                                                                                                                                              That is to assume that companies and governments have no cultural tolerance whatsoever.

                                                                                                                                              1. re: Parigi

                                                                                                                                                not even remotely.

                                                                                                                                                Everybody tries their darndest, but just like table manners, international etiquette is a must-have, and I've seen meetings and negotiations go right down the drain because there was someone on one side or the other who not only didn't even try to be culturally aware, and didn't give a rat's rump who he pissed off, because "they're in my country, they can act like us". (Yes, this really exists...)

                                                                                                                                                I've seen things go nearly as badly with inadvertent cultural faux pas...like handing a Muslim guest a report with one's left hand.

                                                                                                                                                The difference is, the report guy figured out what he did and apologized profusely -- taking the offending report off of the table and handing the guest a new one with his right hand. Saved the day.

                                                                                                                                    2. re: Piggyinthemiddle

                                                                                                                                      < subtleties of American culture> ?????

                                                                                                                                      surely they jest!

                                                                                                                                2. Not sure if people on this thread will be familiar with the tv show "Seinfeld" but there was an episode in which the character George started eating a candy bar with a knife and fork. This was one of the major plots of that episode and basically it was all about how ridiculous it seemed.

                                                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: LulusMom

                                                                                                                                    Classic !

                                                                                                                                    It was ridiculous, but everybody started doing it by the end of the episode !

                                                                                                                                    1. re: Rio Yeti

                                                                                                                                      I was amazed the thread went this long without a mention. by the end of the episode in question, some people are eating doughnuts (beignets?) with a knife and fork, and M&M's with a spoon!

                                                                                                                                  2. Yesterday at the huge brocante in Mezilles, a householder had a pop-up that served "le hamburger maison". We sat at one of their picnic tables and enjoed a very good loaded cheeseburger and a beer. We commented that passerbys were very interested. Now I wonder if it was just fascination with our eating them out of hand, altho no utensils were offered.