« Chard and Cheese Pie | Main | A dirty little secret »

September 12, 2006

Comments

c(h)ristine

I am loving this post! thank you for speaking up on the matter! I have had so many meals ruined by companions with poor eating manners.

Although--your bar is definitely higher than mine: I am all okay with corn on the cob and ribs in a restaurant with cloth napkins.

AJ Kandy

Excellent points, to which I would add:

1. Stabbing the plate repeatedly and violently with one's cutlery is a no-no; your dinner plate is not a chef's cutting board. When cutting even tough steaks or thick-crusted pies, it's recommended to cut _almost_ all the way to the bottom, then pull the bite of food away gently horizontally with a bit of fork-and-knife leverage.

2. You are not in an orphanage - don't encircle your plate with both arms like you're trying to defend it from the other children.

3. Likewise, don't come at your plate from the opposite side with your cutlery at a vertical angle, and scrape back like you're dredging the sea bottom for minerals or something. Hold your fork parallel to the table and plate, pick up the food, and try to keep your fork hand somewhere between 6 o'clock and the 3 o'clock position (or 9 if you're left-handed.)

To those who are getting all huffy about the implied critique and taking it personally - or worse, demanding the "right" to be ill-mannered anywhere and everywhere - this is one example of why society starts to fall apart, when we start valuing our individual liberties over our social obligations. It's not about being "better" or snobby, it's about being polite and considerate to those around you. Our world is inconsiderate enough as it is; we don't have to add to that discord.

To those who demand cultural relativism on dining practices -- nope, sorry, that doesn't work. As the son of first-generation immigrants myself, I can say that our family's attitude is that if you come to live in the West, you're making a choice to live in a Western culture and that demands a certain adaptation, just as much as any North American moving to Europe, the Middle East or Japan would have to adapt to their cultural milieux. Do whatever you like at home, but there are certain minimum standards to be met in public, that again fall under the category of social obligation - the duty to make public life pleasant, not something to be merely tolerated.

Jeanne

Hi Lyn

Although I have often thought of writing such a list and maybe slipping it surreptitiously to a neighbouring restaurant table, I do think that you take things a step too far by implying that all of these "rules" have to be observed every time you eat outside the comfort of your own home.

The no hands rule, for example: so then how to eat a bread roll, as served in many of the smart restaurants where you would presumably have people follow these rules? With a knife and fork??

And as for singling out a sum total of two ethnic cuisines where it would be acceptable to eat with your hands, that's ridiculous. Ask a Mexican what the correct way might be of eating tacos al pastor.

Everywhere that I have ever eaten unpeeled prawns, they have been served with a finger bowl in the expectation that they will be eaten with the hands. Do you seriously suggest peeling them with cutlery? Or no, sorry - having re-read the post you seem to suggest peeling them by hand, then leaving them on your plate to get cold while you wash your hands (preferably in the bathroom) and then eat them with a knife and fork.

And when I heat a hot Thai curry which inevitably makes my nose runny and my eyes water, I have to get up and leave the table every time I want to dab at my nose? Or can you give us a precise definition of what is a nose blow (necessitating a bathroom visit) and what is a polite nose dab, which might be able to be done at the table with enough grovelling apologies??

One of the commenters also suggests that it's fine to have "your own ways" in your home country, but when you come to the glorious West, you need to adapt or die. So... next time I visit the USA I need to stop holding my cutlery in the European style, cut everything up, transfer my fork to my right hand and eat like that, lest I offend sensitive American eaters??

I'm trying to keep this tongue in cheek to illustrate that these rules taken to their logical extreme are a little overboard. I am a great champion of table manners, and some offences (belching, farting, cellphone answering, front-end-loader, open-mouth chewing) should be capital offences. But I think we need to keep a little perspective on things... There are probably other, more scary things destroying the fabric of society today.

But thanks for initiating the debate! :)

And all that aside, I feel that such rigorous adherence to The Rules somehow diminishes the act of eating as a sensual experience. I mean, come on, what gives you more pleasure: eating a chicken drumstick with a knife and a fork on a starched white table setting, or eating it with your fingers straight off the barbecue? Granted, I don't want to watch other people tearing their chicken apart with their teeth every day, but there is a time and a place. I think that's what I feel is lacking in this post - the recognition that there is a time and a place, not for doing all manner of socially unacceptable and off-putting things, but for enjoying the sensual pleasure of food eaten with your hands, surrounded by laughing friends. Rather like sex, eating is a relic of our animal instincts, and to forget that crucial fact is to lose the deep, visceral pleasure of eating.

Jim Schaeffer

Your comments sound like my girlfriend. My grandmother taught me most of my proper manners. But, my upbringing was clearly deficient in table manners. I suppose she, my grandmother, who raised five brawny, brash, and boisterous german-irish sons was overwhelmed by the barely controlled chaos which was dinner. Her energy was spent in being a great cook in the finest southern, rural tradition, and cooking plenty for all. I have not tasted better fried chicken, gravy and biscuits in the 34 years that she has been gone.

Picknchuz

I landed on your page and I wanted desert already. I'm told I'm getting close to borderline diabetic But I got a craving now. Oh well, after Christmas is a good time to start, Right? Right. Have a good one and don't be sampling too much. Pick.

Sal

I would like your opinion on a matter that happened at a BBQ with family and close friends in my backyard.
We had spare ribs, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs along with veggie, chips, and dips.
Our get together was to start anytime between 3 and 4:00. Everyone brings something and it was nice of my brother-in-law and his wife to bring the ribs. My husband told them that if they wanted to visit with Mom ( came in from Alabama) they could come earlier. However, They showed up at 1:30 without calling, My sister-in-law complained that there was nothing to eat. I would think that they would have ate lunch before coming over.
They knew that the people and party foods will arrive between 3 and 4, but she insisted on going out and getting chips, veggies and dip. I didn't see any harm in that so I said 'OK'. So we made up the dip and put chips and the dips on the table. I took a chip, dipped it and ate it, and she accused me of double dipping. Of course I tried to tell her what double dipping was, but before I could finish she slapped me...Hard across the leg. Although we as a family know she has a short temper, I said and did nothing. I handled it as a joke, to prevent a family argument How should I have handled it???
She shows up early, without calling me, was mad because I didn't have food out for her to eat, slaps me ...the host, and talk about farting at the table....that her family does too.
This was the first time they came to our family gathering....now I remember why.
Tell me...how do you eat chips at a cook out and was I out of line?

JonnyS

I agree with the ice-chewing and fork-biting comments above 100%. The sound of tooth-enamel on stainless steel is like nails on a chalk-board to me.

I also hear the many other comments on cross-cultural divides in table-manners. My wife is American and I am English and I initially found the American way of using a knife and fork as crude and loathsome. Even now, after several years of witnessing the odd ballet of holding knife in right hand for cutting, before putting knife down and passing fork to right hand to convey food to mouth, it still looks peculiar, clumsy and inefficient. We've no children yet but living as we do in Brooklyn, NY, I wonder whether I should insist on instructing these future offspring in the same way I was taught or to relax and not pass my Victorian manners on. Comments on this dilemma of globalized table etiquette are very welcome!

alldoneup

lol, ok, i am a bit ashamed now...I will definitely take your tips to heart! =D

Quiet = Love

I appreciate his post. I love eating dinner with my family except that my husband's continual smacking, gulping, loud crunching and fork teeth scraping noises and nose blowing at the table outweigh the pleasure of his company.

If I ask him nicely to refrain from these things he ignores my request. If I become upset, he acts as though I'm crazy for expecting him to eat with better manners than a dog. I love this man but feel that if he wants to eat this way he should be forced to eat alone. Maybe his mother didn't teach him manners but that's no excuse now for someone who is in his fifties!

rwilson

Whilst I learned my table manners from my British parents who were very strict in many regards like not tipping my chair back or having it taken away. I believe that some of these items are things which are common sense and some just anal and people should possibly just look for a greater cause to get upset about than other people's problems. They are the ones who look bad not you so don't waste your energy getting upset over things you can't change.
The world is in climate ruin and we're worrying about fork ettiquite.

avid belcher

You guys are rediculous.

Resturants are for eating; not being pretentious. If I go to a resturant, its because I look forward to consuming food; not observe the amount of estrogen posessed by the other parties.

It's also interesting that the original author made no provision for the use of chopsticks. I personally believe that proves the short-sighted nature of the argument.

And I'll follow up by stating that farting and belching IS appropriate when the venue is set up to accomidate those activities. Bars, Roadhouses, Smokey Bones, and other outdoor-themed resturants are perfect examples.

You're pretentiousness sets up an precident that a certain portion of society (those of us who belch, fart, and eat ribs) should be excluded from resturants. Much in the same way, an intentionally loud belch, fart, or incorrect use of cutlery may convince you to leave a resturant... In that regard, by posting this blog post, you are in effect just as bad as the parties that you abhor.

Brenda Blackwelder

Obviously there are two opinions on etiquette...one from those who want to make the dining experience pleasurable for everyone at the table, and one from those who are unconcerned about the comfort of those seated around them as long as they get their own needs met.

Liese

ughhhh
So glad you mentioned ice chewing. I have to talk myself into offering my in-laws a drink anymore....dreading enduring their "ice crushing" that follows!!

thomas sabo charm club anhänger

Wirklich danke, ich finde so eine gute Seite, ich muss es aufschreiben, um meinen Freunden empfehlen

pandora perlen

Ich schätze Sie! Lassen Sie mich sehen wie ein guter Artikel, und ich habe den Drang, einen Kommentar auf deinem Artikel habe ich etwas auf thomas sabo schmuck empfehlen machen

pandora-bracelets-australia

Ha! Wooh! Thanks! A sign even. Cheers to your workmates.

A big boofy bloke with a bit of sparkle, that's me to a t that is.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment