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Fluent In Silence

American utensil etiquette.

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I did not know this. This, more than anything else, makes me think that American independence was a mistake. You use the "cut and switch" method. You hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand. All fine so far. And you cut up what you're going to eat with your knife and fork. Still fine. But then you put down the knife, switch the fork to your right hand and eat what you've just cut up. What devilry is this? Why? I thought we were the same because we shared a common language but that was before I learned that you ate like that. I can't understand your strange culture. Why not just keep hold of the knife in your right hand and use the fork with your left hand? It doesn't take a feat of ambidexterity to achieve this and it saves time. I did read about this in a book by the wonderfully hilarious American Bill Bryson, who always ate in the "European style", and was told off by his parents for eating in the wrong way, and was delighted to travel to Europe and find that people used a knife and fork in the same way.

Mostly joking. Table etiquette isn't culture - read a fucking book if you want to talk about culture! I do find it confusing though.

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@Fluent In Silence Haha this, as an American was always weird to me too. I just learned to cut with my left hand. Then I can eat with my right hand and no switching, best of both worlds 

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As an American with ambidexterity, I can attest that I give not a second thought to which hand I'm forking with at any given moment. It could be either one, depending on which hand I'm using to do something else. It's on a par with the question of whether one uses the fork with the tines pointing upward or downward as the food enters the mouth (a point that does not arise with spoons). And then there's the whole matter of runcible spoons, and whether they're a brilliant advance of modern progress or an abomination that strikes at the very heart of all that is civil and genteel.

Why, incidentally, are we obliged to lump knives, forks and spoons equally under the term "cutlery"? Are not forks more accurately "pokelery", spoons "scooplery"? It seems the case that lumpers trounced splitters and then ran amok at some point in the past.

The whole business of table settings, which utensils are expected to bed down with one another on which side of the plate and whatnot, has always struck me as a bit presumptuous and high-handed (as it were), although I suppose there must have been some sense to it all when it was first thought of. Take, for example, the custom of where one ought to place one's utensils at a restaurant to alert the staff that one has finished eating and the plate may be taken away: The utensils should be placed with the handles pointed away from the person at the 10 o'clock position, which is the furthest distance of reach for a right-handed diner. So much for the southpaws. It's always about accommodating the fricking majority, isn't it? [takes a deep breath, counts to ten to avoid going off on a rant about neurotypicals and autism]. Ahem.

I think the more engaging question at any given moment is whether one ought more to be inclined to eat peas with a fork or with a spoon. It's a question akin, it seems to me, to asking a bearded man whether he sleeps with the sheet over or under his beard at night. (For the answer to this, observe Captain Haddock in The Adventures of Tintin: The Red Sea Sharks by Hergé.) 

I'm rambling, or possibly just going straight up doolally, but these are the End Times, so whatever.

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That settles it - abomination. A) You would still have to have two of them to hold down your food while you cut it, so what's the point? and B) It raises an entirely new conundrum as to whether the 'k' is silent, thereby causing more problems than it solves.

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16 hours ago, Cerberus said:

Why, incidentally, are we obliged to lump knives, forks and spoons equally under the term "cutlery"? Are not forks more accurately "pokelery", spoons "scooplery"?

Ha! True. Though those do sound like words which have a definition on Urban Dictionary. I don't like etiquette. In terms of eating implements it's usually some bullshit rule which was made up by the aristocracy because they thought that having more types of knives and forks differentiated them from the masses and somehow justified their undeserved wealth and position in society. A Marxist analysis of cutlery there. One rule which pissed me off as a kid was "elbows off the table". Why? "Because it's rude." Why? It just is or some such unconvincing shit. It's harder for children to keep their elbows off the table because they're smaller, and possibly the extra leverage makes it easier to eat. What sort of arsehole gives a flying fuck if children put their elbows on the table? "So rude! I'm so offended right now." Oh that offends you? That's not offensive, this is offensive (the old Crocodile Dundee) you stupid c ... 

The oddest thing about how Americans eat is how I've failed to notice it until now. Probably thousands of hours of watching American films and TV, in some of which they must've been eating, and I never realised. Probably because it's not generally crucial to the story line. It would be strange if it was.

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3 hours ago, Fluent In Silence said:

The oddest thing about how Americans eat is how I've failed to notice it until now. Probably thousands of hours of watching American films and TV, in some of which they must've been eating, and I never realised. Probably because it's not generally crucial to the story line. It would be strange if it was.

Years ago, someone in my extended family had the notion of making a videotape of my family eating our Christmas dinner. The result was an incredibly tediously boring piece of footage, because it turns out that eating is one of the most uninteresting things humans do. It's little wonder that the act of it is underrepresented in cinema and television except where it's done in some exaggerated, excessive, or grotesque fashion. The only real use for dining in entertainment is as a stage for dialogue, which is ironic in that filling one's mouth is the one thing that gets in the way of talking. So even then, there's really only the suggestion of eating as a pretense for talking without moving around.

Really, though, if you want to dive into deep, turbulent waters, it's not how Americans eat that's perplexing so much as what we eat...

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4 hours ago, Fluent In Silence said:

It's harder for children to keep their elbows off the table because they're smaller, and possibly the extra leverage makes it easier to eat. What sort of arsehole gives a flying fuck if children put their elbows on the table? 

I was always told not to sit on my feet at the table. But...if I don’t, my plate is level with my fucking chin.

Joke’s on you, Ma. I’m still so short I sit on my feet. 

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@Cerberus I see no one answered your question about peas so I will chime in - I think peas should be eaten with a spoon.  All those who are using a fork are just wasting precious time chasing the peas around the plate.  I opt for spoons in many scenarios when forks are often used.  Pie, casseroles, I even keep one on hand when eating salad because it's perfect for the last bits that can be a challenge with the fork.  Just my two cents on the topic.

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i offer this rhyme my parents told me when i was a kid to settle the peas question:

i eat my peas with honey
i've done it all my life
it makes the peas taste funny
but it keeps them on my knife

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On 9/13/2020 at 2:06 AM, Complicated toad said:

@Cerberus I see no one answered your question about peas so I will chime in - I think peas should be eaten with a spoon.  All those who are using a fork are just wasting precious time chasing the peas around the plate.  I opt for spoons in many scenarios when forks are often used.  Pie, casseroles, I even keep one on hand when eating salad because it's perfect for the last bits that can be a challenge with the fork.  Just my two cents on the topic.

Nah! With chopsticks. No, but I don't think peas would be worth bothering with if you made them too easy to eat. They don't taste especially great but they at least provide some entertainment. Got some one my fork. OK, slowly lift. Slowly, slowly. Nearly there. AH FUCK!

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Chopsticks....one pea at a time?  Could be a good way to control portion size.  After about 5 peas you'd be too frustrated to keep going.  But it could be bad because after getting so angry at the peas one would give up on vegetables and go straight to dessert.  

I stick with the spoon because I actually really like peas.  A touch of butter, salt, pepper and they are pretty tasty to me.

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