Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Please settle an argument

My husband and I are having a little disagreement and he suggested I send it out to you to settle.

I am not even going to tell you who is on which side of the disagreement but I am sure you'll work it out. I'll just say, I assume you are all people with excellent table manners.

The other night my husband was trying to get our girls to eat correctly at the table. I mentioned that I didn't think he was showing them the best way to hold utensils and demonstrated the way I thought it would be better for them to learn. I can't begin to tell you how well that went down. After quite a discussion and a search of Wikipedia - Eating utensil etiquette, we discovered that one of us eats in a more 'American' way and the other more 'European'.

Person one
  • Believes the fork should curve upwards while you eat, so you can scoop up your food
  • Utensils can be passed back and forth between hands
  • You grip the cutlery with all fingers wrapped around (edit - it's more like holding it like a pencil.)
  • It's okay to start eating before everyone is seated or has their food (You don't want your food to get cold)
  • You can eat with your mouth open on the odd occasion, because it's 'fun'
Person two
  • The fork must always curve down. You don't use the fork as a spoon - the spoon is the spoon.
  • You don't change the cutlery between hands.
  • You hold the utensil with three fingers and have the pointer along the top of the it.
  • No elbows on table
  • Wait for everyone to be seated and have their food before starting
  • Keep your mouth closed when eating, even if it isn't as much fun
There are a few other differences, but we don't want to nit pick or point a finger at each other (pointing is also not good at the table). We have survived 19 years of watching each other eat but I would like our girls to eat in the way that it's most widely accepted where they live. I want them to be able dine out in nice restaurants and look like little ladies. You never know, one day they might marry royalty and this will be one less thing they'll have to learn in the princess training.

What are your thoughts on Utensil etiquette, are we too concerned about it? Are you more person one or two?


  1. Ha ha thanks for your post!!made me laugh early in the morning....not difficult to figure out who is who you know:) Haven't had the "fight" yet but let me tell you Person nr 1 will get me all worked up too..Good luck "person" nr2!! Love it!!

  2. Number two is how our highly trained very expensive occupational therapist has been teaching my children to use cutlery so it must be correct.

    Also I'm usually the last to sit down as I've done all the cooking & serving of dinner. My family waits until I'm seared and says thank you to me (or whomever else may have cooked), then grace, then eat. It's just polite.

  3. Person number two is correct, for sure!!!

  4. Hello Estie, Nice to see you visiting. I love your comment! Rachel x

    Hi Marita, Your person two can't be wrong. Rx

    Anonymous, Thanks for your comment :) Rx

  5. No 2 is definitely correct. The only time forks are permitted to change hands and be used "face up" is if we are at home eating a meal like rissotto which doesn't need a knife. Congratulations on eating dinner at the table with your kids!

  6. Like my dear old Dad says, "How the f*%k are you supposed to get peas onto the back of a fork?"

  7. Hi Babs, I agree Rissotto and similar meals create a different set of rules. Thanks for commenting. Rachel x

  8. Thanks Stephen Wernicke, next time your dad is over for dinner I am only serving peas and giving him a fork. He'll find a way.

  9. I must say I am a mix of both as I am no princess :| at times when my kids were babies I didn't care as while I had a constant screaming baby I had no choice but to eat my meal as quickly as possible there was no time to spare. I do believe #2 is the correct way and wish I a husband that supported me to raise my children with manners etc but unfortunately I was not so lucky and our household was not one that was a calm environment. There for it was hard to imply any rules let alone table ettiquette. If I had my time again I would do things differently. I think good on you for teaching your girls these things it will make their standerds higher on what they will accept in life. I believe anyway. I guess at the end of the day you pick your battles on what is most important. I wish I was stronger to have made things right the first time. Good luck x

  10. Too funny .... I agree with person 2 methods but person 1 would be amusing to watch so I like both :) love T x ps I choose not to eat peas !!!

  11. Hello Danielle, very important to pick your battles with husbands and children. I would be hard doing it all by yourself. Thanks for your comment.

    Hi T, I love your comment. It would save a lot of problems if we all avoided peas.

    Rachel x

  12. It's funny what we choose to argue over after so many years together, but I can see that for the betterment of your girls you need to have this one answered.

    After many years of elocution and deportment training/lessons, it is person number two that is correct all the way!

    Person number one would have been thrown out of our class! lol

    Hope you have solved your dilemma!

    x Jode

  13. Hi Rachel,

    I suggest next time dear old dad comes over, give him a spade! You can shovel it in easier that way.

    I totally agree with no. 2. Over in the States the go is to cut up food and then change over fork hand and eat one handed. Not a good look.

    My other pet hate is when waitresses/waiters clear tables before everyone has finished and also when you have finished eating and don't place cutlery neatly parallel together on the plate.

    Oh back to deportment class no. 1! Andrea

  14. hmmm, somethings you can never change...although I did change my husbands habit of holding the fork so far down it was on the fork bit so you nearly eat your finger...was such a bug bear for me. I'll go with no. 2 mainly but I do swap hands and use fork as a scoop in opposite hand if necessary.

  15. There is no doubt about the etiquette of holding one's knife and fork! I was educated by a very fussy English mother. One should only hold the knife like a pencil when using a fish knife (whoever does that these days? Me at my mother's), because that way, you can 'flake' the fish off the skin more easily. Otherwise the knife should be held beteen the thumb and third finger, with the index finger lightly resting on the handle (not on the blade please!). The fork (horror of horrors) should never be used to scoop up the food however practical that may be! always point the fork downwards.
    As an aside to this. My husband and I are both a little 'sad', as when we were courting, neither of us knew at the time, but we were both 'testing' each other on our first dinner date, to see we were holding our cutlery correctly (we both had strict mothers). Thank goodness we were. The message here is, if you teach your child the correct way - they will meet someone wonderful and live happily ever after!
    Love these pages - ! Vote for me, Jackie Bowden in the Council elections in April!

  16. I'm with Number 2. Although must confess we relax the rules when we are at home on our own (eg elbows are okay on the table).

  17. Hello Jode, I love your comment and that you have knowledge to back it up. Thank you

    Andrea, The shovel is a great idea, You can sure scoop up a lot of peas with it.

    Karla, you managed to change a man - I am impressed.

    Hello Jackie, It's great to see you here. You obviously know what you are talking about. I love that you and your husband were both testing each other. That is cute.

    Hi Footprints, I think it's fine to relax the rules when you know them. Thanks for your comment.

    Rachel xx

  18. this is one arguement we've never had - we both have English backgrounds, therefore do it the same way! Although I'm sure my 10yo boy would prefer not to get told off for elbows on the table, I'm glad my kids are learnign great manners!

  19. I'm more a person 1. But we never ate at tables when I grew up, always on laps. So I have no idea about table etiquette. I just follow what others do in their house. Some wait to eat, some start, some pray... just being a polite guest seems to cover it :)