Manners Maketh the Man — or do they?

Anne here, asking the question, how do you hold your knife and fork? Because the way you do tells people a little about who you are.  And while it's not all that important these days, in the past, the manner in which you ate (among other things) revealed your origin, class, and upbringing. This was especially important in the Regency and Victorian eras.
Ancientforks

Those eras saw a great many social changes. The agricultural and industrial revolution, the growth of England’s trading empire, revolution and war on the continent, to name just a few factors, were throwing up new ways of living and behaving and perceiving. No longer did wealth accrue primarily to the upper classes — people from almost any background could acquire a fortune — and horror of horrors!— think themselves as good as their betters (ie. the aristocracy) because of it.

There are many unflattering terms for it in Regency slang; "mushroom," (think of it; a mushroom grows up out of nowhere and has no roots), "cit" (short for citizen, according to Partridge, a pejorative term for tradesmen, or non-aristocratic townsmen born and bred — ie no country estate), and "smells of the shop" (meaning they earned their fortune from trade.) And remember, 'exclusive' is regarded as a desirable quality — yes? But it means to exclude.

DrinkingTeaAristocrats had no dislike of money —far from it— but it was preferable to have "old money" and to derive one's main income from one's estate, decently inherited from one's forbears, and by owning property, mines, and through investments —not through manufacturing or selling things down the high street oneself. And if one had none, one married it.

But how to tell proper upper class people — "people like us" —from the pushy nouveau riche who could buy anything they wanted to "ape their betters" ?There were many ways to distinguish them — accents, attitudes, behavior, breeding. (Breeding in this sense does not refer to the bloodline, as in horses: it means upbringing. A well-bred person is one who has been brought up correctly to know his manners.)

One of the methods for telling an upstart from a gentleman (or lady) was the way he or she ate at table. Did he carve up his meal then shovel it in? Did he hold his fork in his right hand or left? The "correct" way to eat, of course, depended on where you were placed in society. Anyone different was an outsider and in the wrong. It was always thus.
HedaDutch17thC

For centuries in Europe, it was considered proper to use the right hand to eat, and forks were not commonly used at table. Knives and spoons were the go. Forks were used in the kitchen. 
Cavapainting

When Maria Argyropoulina, the Greek-born niece of the Byzantine emperor came to Venice in the 11th century to marry the son of the Doge, she brought with her the Byzantine habit of using a fork — gold, two pronged ones. "Such was the luxury of her habits…[that] she deigned [not] to touch her food with her fingers, but would command her eunuchs to cut it up into small pieces, which she would impale on a certain golden instrument with two prongs and thus carry to her mouth."

Instead of being praised for her delicacy and good manners, she was roundly condemned by the church, not simply for decadent foreign habits, but for insulting God. “God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks—his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to him to substitute artificial metal forks for them when eating.” When Maria died of the plague, not two years later, it was felt to be a divine judgement on her for her vain and sinful fork-wielding habits.

CoryateEngland was one of the last countries to adopt the fork — strange, finicky, foreign unmanly instrument that it was! In the 17th century Englishman Thomas Coryate returned from his Grand Tour and wrote about this fork thing; “The Italian, and also most strangers that are commorant in Italy, doe alwaies, at their meales use a little forke when they cut the meate . . . The reason of this their curiosity, is because the Italian cannot by any means endure to have his dish touched with fingers, seeing all men’s fingers are not alike cleane. Hereupon I myselfe thought good to imitate the Italian fashion by this forked cutting of meate, not only while I was in Italy, but also in Germany, and oftentimes in England, since I came home.” For his enthusiasm for this "effeminate" and "affected" foreign habit the poor fellow was widely mocked. (Probably not unlike the Seinfeld episode where George at the mars bar with a knife and fork.)

With the growth of a new middle class — a wealthy merchant class — in Regency England, table manners became more and more complicated — more exclusive. The fork as we know it was by now commonplace on most English tables, but as we move into the Victorian era, more and more specialist implements were introduced, a dozen different kinds of forks for different purposes — cutlery (flatware) of all kinds, and woe betide the social climber who didn't know which fork and knife to use for which course. (And if you want to find out why Americans use their forks in their right hand, read the comments.)

The Victorian era saw the growth and proliferation of etiquette manuals, and children of the nouveau riche being trained by poverty-stricken, well bred ladies who taught them to fit in to the upper class, because marriage was the other way of changing your social status. Many of the small habits and rituals of the upper classes are subtle and telling, and are ruthlessly observed by those who care, to expose those who are not "people like us." 

But that doesn't always work. I suspect that in the Victorian era the middle class were far stricter about such things than the upper classes. Aristocrats may know the correct way to behave, but that doesn't mean they always behave correctly. In fact aristocrats have often been famed for their bad manners — being aristocrats, they don't need 'em. They set the standard. But they were bad manners of a particular sort — aristocratic bad manners, so even in the way they were rude, their class is revealed.

I never buy the happy ending when, in a novel, some servant girl or a gypsy girl or some simple farmer's daughter is snapped up by some handsome lord, entranced by her natural beauty. I always think the poor girl's life is going to be a nightmare of "getting it wrong" and struggling to get it right, and in an everyday sense, fitting in is as important as love. There would be nothing more lonely or miserable than being a perpetual outsider in the class you've married into, and suffering slights (subtle or blatant) and superior looks would be her daily fare for the rest of her life, unless she got every little thing right. And what a shocking stress that would be.

So what about you? Do you think manners still matter? Have you ever felt out of step with the company you were in? What foreign manners intrigue or surprise you? What modern manners bug you?

130 thoughts on “Manners Maketh the Man — or do they?”

  1. anne enjoyed your piece on manners, It reminded me that I am indebted to my mom, who when I was a small child taught me table manners that remained with me through my entire life, at 62 I still employ the skills I learned as a two yearold.

    Reply
  2. anne enjoyed your piece on manners, It reminded me that I am indebted to my mom, who when I was a small child taught me table manners that remained with me through my entire life, at 62 I still employ the skills I learned as a two yearold.

    Reply
  3. anne enjoyed your piece on manners, It reminded me that I am indebted to my mom, who when I was a small child taught me table manners that remained with me through my entire life, at 62 I still employ the skills I learned as a two yearold.

    Reply
  4. anne enjoyed your piece on manners, It reminded me that I am indebted to my mom, who when I was a small child taught me table manners that remained with me through my entire life, at 62 I still employ the skills I learned as a two yearold.

    Reply
  5. anne enjoyed your piece on manners, It reminded me that I am indebted to my mom, who when I was a small child taught me table manners that remained with me through my entire life, at 62 I still employ the skills I learned as a two yearold.

    Reply
  6. My pet peeve is that so many people weren’t taught to chew with their mouths shut! It’s disgusting to listen to someone chew and slurp and smack. Many promising first dates have been ruined by a man’s inability to eat like a civilized adult. The idea of a lifetime of being confronted by that at every meal makes me feel ill.

    Reply
  7. My pet peeve is that so many people weren’t taught to chew with their mouths shut! It’s disgusting to listen to someone chew and slurp and smack. Many promising first dates have been ruined by a man’s inability to eat like a civilized adult. The idea of a lifetime of being confronted by that at every meal makes me feel ill.

    Reply
  8. My pet peeve is that so many people weren’t taught to chew with their mouths shut! It’s disgusting to listen to someone chew and slurp and smack. Many promising first dates have been ruined by a man’s inability to eat like a civilized adult. The idea of a lifetime of being confronted by that at every meal makes me feel ill.

    Reply
  9. My pet peeve is that so many people weren’t taught to chew with their mouths shut! It’s disgusting to listen to someone chew and slurp and smack. Many promising first dates have been ruined by a man’s inability to eat like a civilized adult. The idea of a lifetime of being confronted by that at every meal makes me feel ill.

    Reply
  10. My pet peeve is that so many people weren’t taught to chew with their mouths shut! It’s disgusting to listen to someone chew and slurp and smack. Many promising first dates have been ruined by a man’s inability to eat like a civilized adult. The idea of a lifetime of being confronted by that at every meal makes me feel ill.

    Reply
  11. John, my father was the same — my paternal grandmother was a bit of a tartar and very strict about manners. Even in the last months of his life, when he’d lost so many other faculties, my dad was a gentleman to the fingertips, and it endeared him to his nurses, so that he got extra attention.

    Reply
  12. John, my father was the same — my paternal grandmother was a bit of a tartar and very strict about manners. Even in the last months of his life, when he’d lost so many other faculties, my dad was a gentleman to the fingertips, and it endeared him to his nurses, so that he got extra attention.

    Reply
  13. John, my father was the same — my paternal grandmother was a bit of a tartar and very strict about manners. Even in the last months of his life, when he’d lost so many other faculties, my dad was a gentleman to the fingertips, and it endeared him to his nurses, so that he got extra attention.

    Reply
  14. John, my father was the same — my paternal grandmother was a bit of a tartar and very strict about manners. Even in the last months of his life, when he’d lost so many other faculties, my dad was a gentleman to the fingertips, and it endeared him to his nurses, so that he got extra attention.

    Reply
  15. John, my father was the same — my paternal grandmother was a bit of a tartar and very strict about manners. Even in the last months of his life, when he’d lost so many other faculties, my dad was a gentleman to the fingertips, and it endeared him to his nurses, so that he got extra attention.

    Reply
  16. To this day, most modern Americans have a terror of eating implements and fear that they’ll use the wrong one in a formal setting. The most elaborate place setting I’ve ever seen was in Milford Sound, New Zealand. The lodge was government owned and used for training, so our dinner was accompanied by a massive number of implements. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone around in a mood to judge us. *G*
    When I lived in England, it was a relief to know that as an American, I was totally off the map so there was no point in trying to fit in. But you’re right about those poor heroines who marry too far up the social ladder. It can’t have been comfortable for them.

    Reply
  17. To this day, most modern Americans have a terror of eating implements and fear that they’ll use the wrong one in a formal setting. The most elaborate place setting I’ve ever seen was in Milford Sound, New Zealand. The lodge was government owned and used for training, so our dinner was accompanied by a massive number of implements. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone around in a mood to judge us. *G*
    When I lived in England, it was a relief to know that as an American, I was totally off the map so there was no point in trying to fit in. But you’re right about those poor heroines who marry too far up the social ladder. It can’t have been comfortable for them.

    Reply
  18. To this day, most modern Americans have a terror of eating implements and fear that they’ll use the wrong one in a formal setting. The most elaborate place setting I’ve ever seen was in Milford Sound, New Zealand. The lodge was government owned and used for training, so our dinner was accompanied by a massive number of implements. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone around in a mood to judge us. *G*
    When I lived in England, it was a relief to know that as an American, I was totally off the map so there was no point in trying to fit in. But you’re right about those poor heroines who marry too far up the social ladder. It can’t have been comfortable for them.

    Reply
  19. To this day, most modern Americans have a terror of eating implements and fear that they’ll use the wrong one in a formal setting. The most elaborate place setting I’ve ever seen was in Milford Sound, New Zealand. The lodge was government owned and used for training, so our dinner was accompanied by a massive number of implements. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone around in a mood to judge us. *G*
    When I lived in England, it was a relief to know that as an American, I was totally off the map so there was no point in trying to fit in. But you’re right about those poor heroines who marry too far up the social ladder. It can’t have been comfortable for them.

    Reply
  20. To this day, most modern Americans have a terror of eating implements and fear that they’ll use the wrong one in a formal setting. The most elaborate place setting I’ve ever seen was in Milford Sound, New Zealand. The lodge was government owned and used for training, so our dinner was accompanied by a massive number of implements. Luckily, there didn’t seem to be anyone around in a mood to judge us. *G*
    When I lived in England, it was a relief to know that as an American, I was totally off the map so there was no point in trying to fit in. But you’re right about those poor heroines who marry too far up the social ladder. It can’t have been comfortable for them.

    Reply
  21. Isobel, yes indeed — I don’t think people realize that it makes their dinner companions uncomfortable and sometimes a little squeamish. And one would assume that on a first date, at least, they’d know better, so clearly they were never taught.

    Reply
  22. Isobel, yes indeed — I don’t think people realize that it makes their dinner companions uncomfortable and sometimes a little squeamish. And one would assume that on a first date, at least, they’d know better, so clearly they were never taught.

    Reply
  23. Isobel, yes indeed — I don’t think people realize that it makes their dinner companions uncomfortable and sometimes a little squeamish. And one would assume that on a first date, at least, they’d know better, so clearly they were never taught.

    Reply
  24. Isobel, yes indeed — I don’t think people realize that it makes their dinner companions uncomfortable and sometimes a little squeamish. And one would assume that on a first date, at least, they’d know better, so clearly they were never taught.

    Reply
  25. Isobel, yes indeed — I don’t think people realize that it makes their dinner companions uncomfortable and sometimes a little squeamish. And one would assume that on a first date, at least, they’d know better, so clearly they were never taught.

    Reply
  26. That’s funny about your NZ experience, Mary Jo. Australia and NZ were colonized in the Georgian and Victorian eras, and as with so many distant outposts of empire, the upper echelons of society clung firmly to the habits from “back home” even when they’d moved on. And those habits then became the standard.
    It’s one of the theories for the American habit of first cutting up the meat, then transferring the fork to the right hand to eat — that’s more or less how most people did it in Europe when North America was colonized, except the fork wasn’t in widespread use yet, so people used a spoon to steady their meat. They’d cut it up, then use the spoon to eat. Then when the use of the fork at table became widespread in Europe, holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left became the correct manner of eating. Forks came to America, but the old customs remained, so the fork was transferred to the right hand, just as the spoon had been. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Reply
  27. That’s funny about your NZ experience, Mary Jo. Australia and NZ were colonized in the Georgian and Victorian eras, and as with so many distant outposts of empire, the upper echelons of society clung firmly to the habits from “back home” even when they’d moved on. And those habits then became the standard.
    It’s one of the theories for the American habit of first cutting up the meat, then transferring the fork to the right hand to eat — that’s more or less how most people did it in Europe when North America was colonized, except the fork wasn’t in widespread use yet, so people used a spoon to steady their meat. They’d cut it up, then use the spoon to eat. Then when the use of the fork at table became widespread in Europe, holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left became the correct manner of eating. Forks came to America, but the old customs remained, so the fork was transferred to the right hand, just as the spoon had been. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Reply
  28. That’s funny about your NZ experience, Mary Jo. Australia and NZ were colonized in the Georgian and Victorian eras, and as with so many distant outposts of empire, the upper echelons of society clung firmly to the habits from “back home” even when they’d moved on. And those habits then became the standard.
    It’s one of the theories for the American habit of first cutting up the meat, then transferring the fork to the right hand to eat — that’s more or less how most people did it in Europe when North America was colonized, except the fork wasn’t in widespread use yet, so people used a spoon to steady their meat. They’d cut it up, then use the spoon to eat. Then when the use of the fork at table became widespread in Europe, holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left became the correct manner of eating. Forks came to America, but the old customs remained, so the fork was transferred to the right hand, just as the spoon had been. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Reply
  29. That’s funny about your NZ experience, Mary Jo. Australia and NZ were colonized in the Georgian and Victorian eras, and as with so many distant outposts of empire, the upper echelons of society clung firmly to the habits from “back home” even when they’d moved on. And those habits then became the standard.
    It’s one of the theories for the American habit of first cutting up the meat, then transferring the fork to the right hand to eat — that’s more or less how most people did it in Europe when North America was colonized, except the fork wasn’t in widespread use yet, so people used a spoon to steady their meat. They’d cut it up, then use the spoon to eat. Then when the use of the fork at table became widespread in Europe, holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left became the correct manner of eating. Forks came to America, but the old customs remained, so the fork was transferred to the right hand, just as the spoon had been. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Reply
  30. That’s funny about your NZ experience, Mary Jo. Australia and NZ were colonized in the Georgian and Victorian eras, and as with so many distant outposts of empire, the upper echelons of society clung firmly to the habits from “back home” even when they’d moved on. And those habits then became the standard.
    It’s one of the theories for the American habit of first cutting up the meat, then transferring the fork to the right hand to eat — that’s more or less how most people did it in Europe when North America was colonized, except the fork wasn’t in widespread use yet, so people used a spoon to steady their meat. They’d cut it up, then use the spoon to eat. Then when the use of the fork at table became widespread in Europe, holding the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left became the correct manner of eating. Forks came to America, but the old customs remained, so the fork was transferred to the right hand, just as the spoon had been. Interesting, isn’t it?

    Reply
  31. What a great post today! I am an American and when my husband and I moved to Paris for a number of years, we picked up the European way of eating with our fork in our left hand and our knife in the right. I still eat that way today. It’s very tidy and, in my opinion, the correct way to eat. Of course, back here in the U.S., we get a lot of frowns from people who don’t understand that “system.” The American way of cutting a piece of meat, setting down the knife, moving the fork to the right hand to pickup the piece and then put it in the mouth is time consuming and a disaster looking for a place to happen. By that, I mean it would be so easy to drop the knife or fork. I prefer the European way!

    Reply
  32. What a great post today! I am an American and when my husband and I moved to Paris for a number of years, we picked up the European way of eating with our fork in our left hand and our knife in the right. I still eat that way today. It’s very tidy and, in my opinion, the correct way to eat. Of course, back here in the U.S., we get a lot of frowns from people who don’t understand that “system.” The American way of cutting a piece of meat, setting down the knife, moving the fork to the right hand to pickup the piece and then put it in the mouth is time consuming and a disaster looking for a place to happen. By that, I mean it would be so easy to drop the knife or fork. I prefer the European way!

    Reply
  33. What a great post today! I am an American and when my husband and I moved to Paris for a number of years, we picked up the European way of eating with our fork in our left hand and our knife in the right. I still eat that way today. It’s very tidy and, in my opinion, the correct way to eat. Of course, back here in the U.S., we get a lot of frowns from people who don’t understand that “system.” The American way of cutting a piece of meat, setting down the knife, moving the fork to the right hand to pickup the piece and then put it in the mouth is time consuming and a disaster looking for a place to happen. By that, I mean it would be so easy to drop the knife or fork. I prefer the European way!

    Reply
  34. What a great post today! I am an American and when my husband and I moved to Paris for a number of years, we picked up the European way of eating with our fork in our left hand and our knife in the right. I still eat that way today. It’s very tidy and, in my opinion, the correct way to eat. Of course, back here in the U.S., we get a lot of frowns from people who don’t understand that “system.” The American way of cutting a piece of meat, setting down the knife, moving the fork to the right hand to pickup the piece and then put it in the mouth is time consuming and a disaster looking for a place to happen. By that, I mean it would be so easy to drop the knife or fork. I prefer the European way!

    Reply
  35. What a great post today! I am an American and when my husband and I moved to Paris for a number of years, we picked up the European way of eating with our fork in our left hand and our knife in the right. I still eat that way today. It’s very tidy and, in my opinion, the correct way to eat. Of course, back here in the U.S., we get a lot of frowns from people who don’t understand that “system.” The American way of cutting a piece of meat, setting down the knife, moving the fork to the right hand to pickup the piece and then put it in the mouth is time consuming and a disaster looking for a place to happen. By that, I mean it would be so easy to drop the knife or fork. I prefer the European way!

    Reply
  36. Anne, great post. I’ve always wondered about the whys of the American handling of the fork. Now I know. Any insight on the two different ways of holding a knife? I guess that could be a whole new post. I wonder if it is class based or a geographical thing?

    Reply
  37. Anne, great post. I’ve always wondered about the whys of the American handling of the fork. Now I know. Any insight on the two different ways of holding a knife? I guess that could be a whole new post. I wonder if it is class based or a geographical thing?

    Reply
  38. Anne, great post. I’ve always wondered about the whys of the American handling of the fork. Now I know. Any insight on the two different ways of holding a knife? I guess that could be a whole new post. I wonder if it is class based or a geographical thing?

    Reply
  39. Anne, great post. I’ve always wondered about the whys of the American handling of the fork. Now I know. Any insight on the two different ways of holding a knife? I guess that could be a whole new post. I wonder if it is class based or a geographical thing?

    Reply
  40. Anne, great post. I’ve always wondered about the whys of the American handling of the fork. Now I know. Any insight on the two different ways of holding a knife? I guess that could be a whole new post. I wonder if it is class based or a geographical thing?

    Reply
  41. Unfortunately, I was raised without manners. Really. My mother, for some reason, believed I would simply learn it along the way. I loved cooking, so I did pick up a few things in my cooking classes. The rest came later, as an adult. It isn’t difficult for me to see the servant or gypsy learning. When I lived in England, I watched and learned. I like the unobtrusiveness of keeping the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, but I also like how changing hands forces me to slow down. I use both methods depending on what my goal is at the time.

    Reply
  42. Unfortunately, I was raised without manners. Really. My mother, for some reason, believed I would simply learn it along the way. I loved cooking, so I did pick up a few things in my cooking classes. The rest came later, as an adult. It isn’t difficult for me to see the servant or gypsy learning. When I lived in England, I watched and learned. I like the unobtrusiveness of keeping the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, but I also like how changing hands forces me to slow down. I use both methods depending on what my goal is at the time.

    Reply
  43. Unfortunately, I was raised without manners. Really. My mother, for some reason, believed I would simply learn it along the way. I loved cooking, so I did pick up a few things in my cooking classes. The rest came later, as an adult. It isn’t difficult for me to see the servant or gypsy learning. When I lived in England, I watched and learned. I like the unobtrusiveness of keeping the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, but I also like how changing hands forces me to slow down. I use both methods depending on what my goal is at the time.

    Reply
  44. Unfortunately, I was raised without manners. Really. My mother, for some reason, believed I would simply learn it along the way. I loved cooking, so I did pick up a few things in my cooking classes. The rest came later, as an adult. It isn’t difficult for me to see the servant or gypsy learning. When I lived in England, I watched and learned. I like the unobtrusiveness of keeping the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, but I also like how changing hands forces me to slow down. I use both methods depending on what my goal is at the time.

    Reply
  45. Unfortunately, I was raised without manners. Really. My mother, for some reason, believed I would simply learn it along the way. I loved cooking, so I did pick up a few things in my cooking classes. The rest came later, as an adult. It isn’t difficult for me to see the servant or gypsy learning. When I lived in England, I watched and learned. I like the unobtrusiveness of keeping the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, but I also like how changing hands forces me to slow down. I use both methods depending on what my goal is at the time.

    Reply
  46. Connie, I felt much the same when I first went to the US and saw people switching their forks back and forth as they ate. I think both systems have their merits and we should just follow the system we feel most comfortable with. The way of eating my parents taught me from when I was small is so automatic to me I don’t even think about it, except when I’m somewhere it’s different.
    I would really like to know more about the etiquette of places where they don’t use cutlery; Chinese and Japanese (and other) chopstick etiquette, for instance, and places where eating with fingers is polite.

    Reply
  47. Connie, I felt much the same when I first went to the US and saw people switching their forks back and forth as they ate. I think both systems have their merits and we should just follow the system we feel most comfortable with. The way of eating my parents taught me from when I was small is so automatic to me I don’t even think about it, except when I’m somewhere it’s different.
    I would really like to know more about the etiquette of places where they don’t use cutlery; Chinese and Japanese (and other) chopstick etiquette, for instance, and places where eating with fingers is polite.

    Reply
  48. Connie, I felt much the same when I first went to the US and saw people switching their forks back and forth as they ate. I think both systems have their merits and we should just follow the system we feel most comfortable with. The way of eating my parents taught me from when I was small is so automatic to me I don’t even think about it, except when I’m somewhere it’s different.
    I would really like to know more about the etiquette of places where they don’t use cutlery; Chinese and Japanese (and other) chopstick etiquette, for instance, and places where eating with fingers is polite.

    Reply
  49. Connie, I felt much the same when I first went to the US and saw people switching their forks back and forth as they ate. I think both systems have their merits and we should just follow the system we feel most comfortable with. The way of eating my parents taught me from when I was small is so automatic to me I don’t even think about it, except when I’m somewhere it’s different.
    I would really like to know more about the etiquette of places where they don’t use cutlery; Chinese and Japanese (and other) chopstick etiquette, for instance, and places where eating with fingers is polite.

    Reply
  50. Connie, I felt much the same when I first went to the US and saw people switching their forks back and forth as they ate. I think both systems have their merits and we should just follow the system we feel most comfortable with. The way of eating my parents taught me from when I was small is so automatic to me I don’t even think about it, except when I’m somewhere it’s different.
    I would really like to know more about the etiquette of places where they don’t use cutlery; Chinese and Japanese (and other) chopstick etiquette, for instance, and places where eating with fingers is polite.

    Reply
  51. Louise, I’m not sure what you mean by the different ways of holding the knife. I was taught to hold it like this — index fingers keeping each implement steady and the fork held with the curved tines pointing downward. Even to eat peas, which isn’t easy.
    http://bit.ly/13jGWxt
    I’ve seen some people hold a knife like a pen, but my mother, who was strict about such things, frowned on that. I’ve also seen some people holding the fork in their left fist, stabbing down vertically on the meat or whatever, as they cut it, then transferring the fork, scoop side up, to the right hand, to eat.
    But truthfully, I don’t think it matters how you hold your knife and fork, as long as you eat neatly and quietly and don’t make your dining companions queasy. *g*

    Reply
  52. Louise, I’m not sure what you mean by the different ways of holding the knife. I was taught to hold it like this — index fingers keeping each implement steady and the fork held with the curved tines pointing downward. Even to eat peas, which isn’t easy.
    http://bit.ly/13jGWxt
    I’ve seen some people hold a knife like a pen, but my mother, who was strict about such things, frowned on that. I’ve also seen some people holding the fork in their left fist, stabbing down vertically on the meat or whatever, as they cut it, then transferring the fork, scoop side up, to the right hand, to eat.
    But truthfully, I don’t think it matters how you hold your knife and fork, as long as you eat neatly and quietly and don’t make your dining companions queasy. *g*

    Reply
  53. Louise, I’m not sure what you mean by the different ways of holding the knife. I was taught to hold it like this — index fingers keeping each implement steady and the fork held with the curved tines pointing downward. Even to eat peas, which isn’t easy.
    http://bit.ly/13jGWxt
    I’ve seen some people hold a knife like a pen, but my mother, who was strict about such things, frowned on that. I’ve also seen some people holding the fork in their left fist, stabbing down vertically on the meat or whatever, as they cut it, then transferring the fork, scoop side up, to the right hand, to eat.
    But truthfully, I don’t think it matters how you hold your knife and fork, as long as you eat neatly and quietly and don’t make your dining companions queasy. *g*

    Reply
  54. Louise, I’m not sure what you mean by the different ways of holding the knife. I was taught to hold it like this — index fingers keeping each implement steady and the fork held with the curved tines pointing downward. Even to eat peas, which isn’t easy.
    http://bit.ly/13jGWxt
    I’ve seen some people hold a knife like a pen, but my mother, who was strict about such things, frowned on that. I’ve also seen some people holding the fork in their left fist, stabbing down vertically on the meat or whatever, as they cut it, then transferring the fork, scoop side up, to the right hand, to eat.
    But truthfully, I don’t think it matters how you hold your knife and fork, as long as you eat neatly and quietly and don’t make your dining companions queasy. *g*

    Reply
  55. Louise, I’m not sure what you mean by the different ways of holding the knife. I was taught to hold it like this — index fingers keeping each implement steady and the fork held with the curved tines pointing downward. Even to eat peas, which isn’t easy.
    http://bit.ly/13jGWxt
    I’ve seen some people hold a knife like a pen, but my mother, who was strict about such things, frowned on that. I’ve also seen some people holding the fork in their left fist, stabbing down vertically on the meat or whatever, as they cut it, then transferring the fork, scoop side up, to the right hand, to eat.
    But truthfully, I don’t think it matters how you hold your knife and fork, as long as you eat neatly and quietly and don’t make your dining companions queasy. *g*

    Reply
  56. Judy, I think that’s a very wise approach. As I said, my parents were pretty strict about table manners, but one of my sisters raised her kids the same way as we were taught, and the other raised hers to eat however they liked. It’s a choice.
    And I think it’s polite to adjust your style of eating to your company. The aim of manners, after all — unless you’re wanting to keep the hoi polloi out *g* — is to make your companions feel comfortable.

    Reply
  57. Judy, I think that’s a very wise approach. As I said, my parents were pretty strict about table manners, but one of my sisters raised her kids the same way as we were taught, and the other raised hers to eat however they liked. It’s a choice.
    And I think it’s polite to adjust your style of eating to your company. The aim of manners, after all — unless you’re wanting to keep the hoi polloi out *g* — is to make your companions feel comfortable.

    Reply
  58. Judy, I think that’s a very wise approach. As I said, my parents were pretty strict about table manners, but one of my sisters raised her kids the same way as we were taught, and the other raised hers to eat however they liked. It’s a choice.
    And I think it’s polite to adjust your style of eating to your company. The aim of manners, after all — unless you’re wanting to keep the hoi polloi out *g* — is to make your companions feel comfortable.

    Reply
  59. Judy, I think that’s a very wise approach. As I said, my parents were pretty strict about table manners, but one of my sisters raised her kids the same way as we were taught, and the other raised hers to eat however they liked. It’s a choice.
    And I think it’s polite to adjust your style of eating to your company. The aim of manners, after all — unless you’re wanting to keep the hoi polloi out *g* — is to make your companions feel comfortable.

    Reply
  60. Judy, I think that’s a very wise approach. As I said, my parents were pretty strict about table manners, but one of my sisters raised her kids the same way as we were taught, and the other raised hers to eat however they liked. It’s a choice.
    And I think it’s polite to adjust your style of eating to your company. The aim of manners, after all — unless you’re wanting to keep the hoi polloi out *g* — is to make your companions feel comfortable.

    Reply
  61. I’m glad you explained about holding down the meat with the spoon because I was trying to picture holding the meat with fingers and whacking with a knife…ouch. But even a spoon would be horribly awkward.
    My husband admired the efficiency of European utensil habits and has adopted it for his own. I’m sure unenlightened Americans in restaurants watching him think he’s being crude.

    Reply
  62. I’m glad you explained about holding down the meat with the spoon because I was trying to picture holding the meat with fingers and whacking with a knife…ouch. But even a spoon would be horribly awkward.
    My husband admired the efficiency of European utensil habits and has adopted it for his own. I’m sure unenlightened Americans in restaurants watching him think he’s being crude.

    Reply
  63. I’m glad you explained about holding down the meat with the spoon because I was trying to picture holding the meat with fingers and whacking with a knife…ouch. But even a spoon would be horribly awkward.
    My husband admired the efficiency of European utensil habits and has adopted it for his own. I’m sure unenlightened Americans in restaurants watching him think he’s being crude.

    Reply
  64. I’m glad you explained about holding down the meat with the spoon because I was trying to picture holding the meat with fingers and whacking with a knife…ouch. But even a spoon would be horribly awkward.
    My husband admired the efficiency of European utensil habits and has adopted it for his own. I’m sure unenlightened Americans in restaurants watching him think he’s being crude.

    Reply
  65. I’m glad you explained about holding down the meat with the spoon because I was trying to picture holding the meat with fingers and whacking with a knife…ouch. But even a spoon would be horribly awkward.
    My husband admired the efficiency of European utensil habits and has adopted it for his own. I’m sure unenlightened Americans in restaurants watching him think he’s being crude.

    Reply
  66. Pat I found the whole history of the fork, fascinating. It almost hijacked the blog post. Am chuckling at the possibility of people thinking your husband’s European style of eating might be crude — I think that’s the thing — we each have our own ways of doing things and secretly think anyone different is “wrong” but it’s just . . . different.

    Reply
  67. Pat I found the whole history of the fork, fascinating. It almost hijacked the blog post. Am chuckling at the possibility of people thinking your husband’s European style of eating might be crude — I think that’s the thing — we each have our own ways of doing things and secretly think anyone different is “wrong” but it’s just . . . different.

    Reply
  68. Pat I found the whole history of the fork, fascinating. It almost hijacked the blog post. Am chuckling at the possibility of people thinking your husband’s European style of eating might be crude — I think that’s the thing — we each have our own ways of doing things and secretly think anyone different is “wrong” but it’s just . . . different.

    Reply
  69. Pat I found the whole history of the fork, fascinating. It almost hijacked the blog post. Am chuckling at the possibility of people thinking your husband’s European style of eating might be crude — I think that’s the thing — we each have our own ways of doing things and secretly think anyone different is “wrong” but it’s just . . . different.

    Reply
  70. Pat I found the whole history of the fork, fascinating. It almost hijacked the blog post. Am chuckling at the possibility of people thinking your husband’s European style of eating might be crude — I think that’s the thing — we each have our own ways of doing things and secretly think anyone different is “wrong” but it’s just . . . different.

    Reply
  71. Fascinating post, Anne.
    I think I was brought up at the same manners school as you when it comes to holding a knife and fork. Wish I had watched more closely in US to see how people used eating implements over there. Great explanation of why from you.
    I also apparently, friends pointed it out recently, put my knife and fork down while eating. I didn’t really realise and then remembered in the dark recesses that that was what my grandmother, maiden aunts insisted on.
    Since I’ve injured my finger I fear I am a bit of a slob and they would shudder and all the food I spill back on the plate.
    Alison
    Alison

    Reply
  72. Fascinating post, Anne.
    I think I was brought up at the same manners school as you when it comes to holding a knife and fork. Wish I had watched more closely in US to see how people used eating implements over there. Great explanation of why from you.
    I also apparently, friends pointed it out recently, put my knife and fork down while eating. I didn’t really realise and then remembered in the dark recesses that that was what my grandmother, maiden aunts insisted on.
    Since I’ve injured my finger I fear I am a bit of a slob and they would shudder and all the food I spill back on the plate.
    Alison
    Alison

    Reply
  73. Fascinating post, Anne.
    I think I was brought up at the same manners school as you when it comes to holding a knife and fork. Wish I had watched more closely in US to see how people used eating implements over there. Great explanation of why from you.
    I also apparently, friends pointed it out recently, put my knife and fork down while eating. I didn’t really realise and then remembered in the dark recesses that that was what my grandmother, maiden aunts insisted on.
    Since I’ve injured my finger I fear I am a bit of a slob and they would shudder and all the food I spill back on the plate.
    Alison
    Alison

    Reply
  74. Fascinating post, Anne.
    I think I was brought up at the same manners school as you when it comes to holding a knife and fork. Wish I had watched more closely in US to see how people used eating implements over there. Great explanation of why from you.
    I also apparently, friends pointed it out recently, put my knife and fork down while eating. I didn’t really realise and then remembered in the dark recesses that that was what my grandmother, maiden aunts insisted on.
    Since I’ve injured my finger I fear I am a bit of a slob and they would shudder and all the food I spill back on the plate.
    Alison
    Alison

    Reply
  75. Fascinating post, Anne.
    I think I was brought up at the same manners school as you when it comes to holding a knife and fork. Wish I had watched more closely in US to see how people used eating implements over there. Great explanation of why from you.
    I also apparently, friends pointed it out recently, put my knife and fork down while eating. I didn’t really realise and then remembered in the dark recesses that that was what my grandmother, maiden aunts insisted on.
    Since I’ve injured my finger I fear I am a bit of a slob and they would shudder and all the food I spill back on the plate.
    Alison
    Alison

    Reply
  76. Definitely the same school of table manners, Alison — I also put my knife and fork down between mouthfuls. My mother used to say, “Thirty two chews” in an attempt to slow us all down. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Reply
  77. Definitely the same school of table manners, Alison — I also put my knife and fork down between mouthfuls. My mother used to say, “Thirty two chews” in an attempt to slow us all down. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Reply
  78. Definitely the same school of table manners, Alison — I also put my knife and fork down between mouthfuls. My mother used to say, “Thirty two chews” in an attempt to slow us all down. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Reply
  79. Definitely the same school of table manners, Alison — I also put my knife and fork down between mouthfuls. My mother used to say, “Thirty two chews” in an attempt to slow us all down. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Reply
  80. Definitely the same school of table manners, Alison — I also put my knife and fork down between mouthfuls. My mother used to say, “Thirty two chews” in an attempt to slow us all down. 😉
    Thanks for dropping by.

    Reply
  81. I had a housemother at boarding school who would wack my elbows with a wooden spoon if I didn’t keep them pinned to my sides while eating. Cutting meat I remember as a particularly fraught time for elbows….

    Reply
  82. I had a housemother at boarding school who would wack my elbows with a wooden spoon if I didn’t keep them pinned to my sides while eating. Cutting meat I remember as a particularly fraught time for elbows….

    Reply
  83. I had a housemother at boarding school who would wack my elbows with a wooden spoon if I didn’t keep them pinned to my sides while eating. Cutting meat I remember as a particularly fraught time for elbows….

    Reply
  84. I had a housemother at boarding school who would wack my elbows with a wooden spoon if I didn’t keep them pinned to my sides while eating. Cutting meat I remember as a particularly fraught time for elbows….

    Reply
  85. I had a housemother at boarding school who would wack my elbows with a wooden spoon if I didn’t keep them pinned to my sides while eating. Cutting meat I remember as a particularly fraught time for elbows….

    Reply
  86. Ouch! Lenore — that wasn’t exactly polite behaviour on her part, was it? One of my grandmothers used to take a swipe at childrens’ elbows if they were on the table. Means now, every time I lean my elbows on the table I get a pleasurable sense of naughtiness. 😉

    Reply
  87. Ouch! Lenore — that wasn’t exactly polite behaviour on her part, was it? One of my grandmothers used to take a swipe at childrens’ elbows if they were on the table. Means now, every time I lean my elbows on the table I get a pleasurable sense of naughtiness. 😉

    Reply
  88. Ouch! Lenore — that wasn’t exactly polite behaviour on her part, was it? One of my grandmothers used to take a swipe at childrens’ elbows if they were on the table. Means now, every time I lean my elbows on the table I get a pleasurable sense of naughtiness. 😉

    Reply
  89. Ouch! Lenore — that wasn’t exactly polite behaviour on her part, was it? One of my grandmothers used to take a swipe at childrens’ elbows if they were on the table. Means now, every time I lean my elbows on the table I get a pleasurable sense of naughtiness. 😉

    Reply
  90. Ouch! Lenore — that wasn’t exactly polite behaviour on her part, was it? One of my grandmothers used to take a swipe at childrens’ elbows if they were on the table. Means now, every time I lean my elbows on the table I get a pleasurable sense of naughtiness. 😉

    Reply
  91. I’m so late getting here. I do think manners are important. I was taught proper US table manners growing up. I used to cringe when I saw a parent teaching a child the improper way to eat. While living in Germany, I learned proper German manners (fork in the left hand and placed in the mouth with the tines up. Knife in the right hand). At first I did it only to blend in, but as we lingered on in Europe, I got into the habit and have trouble remembering to eat the US way in the US. My son left home with a complete set of German and US manners. When we lived in England, someone was giving a course to wives of diplomates and other women on English manners so that they could fit in.

    Reply
  92. I’m so late getting here. I do think manners are important. I was taught proper US table manners growing up. I used to cringe when I saw a parent teaching a child the improper way to eat. While living in Germany, I learned proper German manners (fork in the left hand and placed in the mouth with the tines up. Knife in the right hand). At first I did it only to blend in, but as we lingered on in Europe, I got into the habit and have trouble remembering to eat the US way in the US. My son left home with a complete set of German and US manners. When we lived in England, someone was giving a course to wives of diplomates and other women on English manners so that they could fit in.

    Reply
  93. I’m so late getting here. I do think manners are important. I was taught proper US table manners growing up. I used to cringe when I saw a parent teaching a child the improper way to eat. While living in Germany, I learned proper German manners (fork in the left hand and placed in the mouth with the tines up. Knife in the right hand). At first I did it only to blend in, but as we lingered on in Europe, I got into the habit and have trouble remembering to eat the US way in the US. My son left home with a complete set of German and US manners. When we lived in England, someone was giving a course to wives of diplomates and other women on English manners so that they could fit in.

    Reply
  94. I’m so late getting here. I do think manners are important. I was taught proper US table manners growing up. I used to cringe when I saw a parent teaching a child the improper way to eat. While living in Germany, I learned proper German manners (fork in the left hand and placed in the mouth with the tines up. Knife in the right hand). At first I did it only to blend in, but as we lingered on in Europe, I got into the habit and have trouble remembering to eat the US way in the US. My son left home with a complete set of German and US manners. When we lived in England, someone was giving a course to wives of diplomates and other women on English manners so that they could fit in.

    Reply
  95. I’m so late getting here. I do think manners are important. I was taught proper US table manners growing up. I used to cringe when I saw a parent teaching a child the improper way to eat. While living in Germany, I learned proper German manners (fork in the left hand and placed in the mouth with the tines up. Knife in the right hand). At first I did it only to blend in, but as we lingered on in Europe, I got into the habit and have trouble remembering to eat the US way in the US. My son left home with a complete set of German and US manners. When we lived in England, someone was giving a course to wives of diplomates and other women on English manners so that they could fit in.

    Reply
  96. I actually grew up using mostly chopsticks, so I have to admit to occasionally still feeling somewhat lost when required to use a fork and knife in formal situations.
    As for the etiquette of chopsticks:
    1. Never stick them straight into a bowl of rice- always lay them over the top or else put them to the side. Not only is sticking them straight in extremely unstable, it also resembles a Buddhist shrine, with incense in sand, which brings to mind dead people.
    2. Never pass food directly from your chopsticks to another person’s. Put any food you’re giving them into their bowl. (And yes, it is quite usual for other people, especially elders, to serve you food directly, whether you want it or not.)
    I know there’s more, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.
    As for the etiquette of eating with your hands, I don’t know all that much, but I do know that you’re supposed to only use your right hand. Traditionally, the left hand is the one you use to, er, wipe yourself with after going to the bathroom, so it’s considered unclean and not suitable for eating with.

    Reply
  97. I actually grew up using mostly chopsticks, so I have to admit to occasionally still feeling somewhat lost when required to use a fork and knife in formal situations.
    As for the etiquette of chopsticks:
    1. Never stick them straight into a bowl of rice- always lay them over the top or else put them to the side. Not only is sticking them straight in extremely unstable, it also resembles a Buddhist shrine, with incense in sand, which brings to mind dead people.
    2. Never pass food directly from your chopsticks to another person’s. Put any food you’re giving them into their bowl. (And yes, it is quite usual for other people, especially elders, to serve you food directly, whether you want it or not.)
    I know there’s more, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.
    As for the etiquette of eating with your hands, I don’t know all that much, but I do know that you’re supposed to only use your right hand. Traditionally, the left hand is the one you use to, er, wipe yourself with after going to the bathroom, so it’s considered unclean and not suitable for eating with.

    Reply
  98. I actually grew up using mostly chopsticks, so I have to admit to occasionally still feeling somewhat lost when required to use a fork and knife in formal situations.
    As for the etiquette of chopsticks:
    1. Never stick them straight into a bowl of rice- always lay them over the top or else put them to the side. Not only is sticking them straight in extremely unstable, it also resembles a Buddhist shrine, with incense in sand, which brings to mind dead people.
    2. Never pass food directly from your chopsticks to another person’s. Put any food you’re giving them into their bowl. (And yes, it is quite usual for other people, especially elders, to serve you food directly, whether you want it or not.)
    I know there’s more, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.
    As for the etiquette of eating with your hands, I don’t know all that much, but I do know that you’re supposed to only use your right hand. Traditionally, the left hand is the one you use to, er, wipe yourself with after going to the bathroom, so it’s considered unclean and not suitable for eating with.

    Reply
  99. I actually grew up using mostly chopsticks, so I have to admit to occasionally still feeling somewhat lost when required to use a fork and knife in formal situations.
    As for the etiquette of chopsticks:
    1. Never stick them straight into a bowl of rice- always lay them over the top or else put them to the side. Not only is sticking them straight in extremely unstable, it also resembles a Buddhist shrine, with incense in sand, which brings to mind dead people.
    2. Never pass food directly from your chopsticks to another person’s. Put any food you’re giving them into their bowl. (And yes, it is quite usual for other people, especially elders, to serve you food directly, whether you want it or not.)
    I know there’s more, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.
    As for the etiquette of eating with your hands, I don’t know all that much, but I do know that you’re supposed to only use your right hand. Traditionally, the left hand is the one you use to, er, wipe yourself with after going to the bathroom, so it’s considered unclean and not suitable for eating with.

    Reply
  100. I actually grew up using mostly chopsticks, so I have to admit to occasionally still feeling somewhat lost when required to use a fork and knife in formal situations.
    As for the etiquette of chopsticks:
    1. Never stick them straight into a bowl of rice- always lay them over the top or else put them to the side. Not only is sticking them straight in extremely unstable, it also resembles a Buddhist shrine, with incense in sand, which brings to mind dead people.
    2. Never pass food directly from your chopsticks to another person’s. Put any food you’re giving them into their bowl. (And yes, it is quite usual for other people, especially elders, to serve you food directly, whether you want it or not.)
    I know there’s more, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head.
    As for the etiquette of eating with your hands, I don’t know all that much, but I do know that you’re supposed to only use your right hand. Traditionally, the left hand is the one you use to, er, wipe yourself with after going to the bathroom, so it’s considered unclean and not suitable for eating with.

    Reply
  101. Lily and Ella, I can see that spy-exposed-by-foreign-manners happening — it makes perfect sense to me, because its one of those things that you don’t even notice if you’ve been doing it since early childhood—but I have a feeling that it’s a myth.
    I first read about it on wikipedia, where it was reported as being used *as a fictional device*. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_utensil_etiquette#As_fictional_device
    Since then I have seen it mentioned on a few websites that several spies in WW2 were exposed by their foreign table manners, and quoting wikipedia as their source. So I suspect it’s an urban myth.

    Reply
  102. Lily and Ella, I can see that spy-exposed-by-foreign-manners happening — it makes perfect sense to me, because its one of those things that you don’t even notice if you’ve been doing it since early childhood—but I have a feeling that it’s a myth.
    I first read about it on wikipedia, where it was reported as being used *as a fictional device*. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_utensil_etiquette#As_fictional_device
    Since then I have seen it mentioned on a few websites that several spies in WW2 were exposed by their foreign table manners, and quoting wikipedia as their source. So I suspect it’s an urban myth.

    Reply
  103. Lily and Ella, I can see that spy-exposed-by-foreign-manners happening — it makes perfect sense to me, because its one of those things that you don’t even notice if you’ve been doing it since early childhood—but I have a feeling that it’s a myth.
    I first read about it on wikipedia, where it was reported as being used *as a fictional device*. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_utensil_etiquette#As_fictional_device
    Since then I have seen it mentioned on a few websites that several spies in WW2 were exposed by their foreign table manners, and quoting wikipedia as their source. So I suspect it’s an urban myth.

    Reply
  104. Lily and Ella, I can see that spy-exposed-by-foreign-manners happening — it makes perfect sense to me, because its one of those things that you don’t even notice if you’ve been doing it since early childhood—but I have a feeling that it’s a myth.
    I first read about it on wikipedia, where it was reported as being used *as a fictional device*. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_utensil_etiquette#As_fictional_device
    Since then I have seen it mentioned on a few websites that several spies in WW2 were exposed by their foreign table manners, and quoting wikipedia as their source. So I suspect it’s an urban myth.

    Reply
  105. Lily and Ella, I can see that spy-exposed-by-foreign-manners happening — it makes perfect sense to me, because its one of those things that you don’t even notice if you’ve been doing it since early childhood—but I have a feeling that it’s a myth.
    I first read about it on wikipedia, where it was reported as being used *as a fictional device*. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eating_utensil_etiquette#As_fictional_device
    Since then I have seen it mentioned on a few websites that several spies in WW2 were exposed by their foreign table manners, and quoting wikipedia as their source. So I suspect it’s an urban myth.

    Reply
  106. Margot, thanks for that little primer on chopstick etiquette.
    I made a boo-boo once early in my teaching career — I used to teach Snglish to young refugees from SE Asia and they always wanted to go to yum cha to celebrate the end of term. This particular time, I was at a yum cha with my students and one young gentleman kept putting food in my bowl. So I thought I’d return the favor, and put something in his — I immediately knew I’d done something wrong — just a flicker in his expression as he tried not to show it. But I could tell. And of course, being so polite, none of the students would tell me.
    Later, I realized that he’d been swiftly popping morsels in my bowl using the other –untouched — end of his chopsticks, whereas I’d used the eating end.
    Chinese and Japanese and other countries have such sophisticated cultures that I’m certain there are all kinds of etiquette pitfalls for foreigners and members of different classes, just as there are in western society. Possibly more. *g*

    Reply
  107. Margot, thanks for that little primer on chopstick etiquette.
    I made a boo-boo once early in my teaching career — I used to teach Snglish to young refugees from SE Asia and they always wanted to go to yum cha to celebrate the end of term. This particular time, I was at a yum cha with my students and one young gentleman kept putting food in my bowl. So I thought I’d return the favor, and put something in his — I immediately knew I’d done something wrong — just a flicker in his expression as he tried not to show it. But I could tell. And of course, being so polite, none of the students would tell me.
    Later, I realized that he’d been swiftly popping morsels in my bowl using the other –untouched — end of his chopsticks, whereas I’d used the eating end.
    Chinese and Japanese and other countries have such sophisticated cultures that I’m certain there are all kinds of etiquette pitfalls for foreigners and members of different classes, just as there are in western society. Possibly more. *g*

    Reply
  108. Margot, thanks for that little primer on chopstick etiquette.
    I made a boo-boo once early in my teaching career — I used to teach Snglish to young refugees from SE Asia and they always wanted to go to yum cha to celebrate the end of term. This particular time, I was at a yum cha with my students and one young gentleman kept putting food in my bowl. So I thought I’d return the favor, and put something in his — I immediately knew I’d done something wrong — just a flicker in his expression as he tried not to show it. But I could tell. And of course, being so polite, none of the students would tell me.
    Later, I realized that he’d been swiftly popping morsels in my bowl using the other –untouched — end of his chopsticks, whereas I’d used the eating end.
    Chinese and Japanese and other countries have such sophisticated cultures that I’m certain there are all kinds of etiquette pitfalls for foreigners and members of different classes, just as there are in western society. Possibly more. *g*

    Reply
  109. Margot, thanks for that little primer on chopstick etiquette.
    I made a boo-boo once early in my teaching career — I used to teach Snglish to young refugees from SE Asia and they always wanted to go to yum cha to celebrate the end of term. This particular time, I was at a yum cha with my students and one young gentleman kept putting food in my bowl. So I thought I’d return the favor, and put something in his — I immediately knew I’d done something wrong — just a flicker in his expression as he tried not to show it. But I could tell. And of course, being so polite, none of the students would tell me.
    Later, I realized that he’d been swiftly popping morsels in my bowl using the other –untouched — end of his chopsticks, whereas I’d used the eating end.
    Chinese and Japanese and other countries have such sophisticated cultures that I’m certain there are all kinds of etiquette pitfalls for foreigners and members of different classes, just as there are in western society. Possibly more. *g*

    Reply
  110. Margot, thanks for that little primer on chopstick etiquette.
    I made a boo-boo once early in my teaching career — I used to teach Snglish to young refugees from SE Asia and they always wanted to go to yum cha to celebrate the end of term. This particular time, I was at a yum cha with my students and one young gentleman kept putting food in my bowl. So I thought I’d return the favor, and put something in his — I immediately knew I’d done something wrong — just a flicker in his expression as he tried not to show it. But I could tell. And of course, being so polite, none of the students would tell me.
    Later, I realized that he’d been swiftly popping morsels in my bowl using the other –untouched — end of his chopsticks, whereas I’d used the eating end.
    Chinese and Japanese and other countries have such sophisticated cultures that I’m certain there are all kinds of etiquette pitfalls for foreigners and members of different classes, just as there are in western society. Possibly more. *g*

    Reply
  111. (1) Table manners lessons: Pretty Woman. Note in the breakfast scene she picks up a pancake and eats it with her fingers. When she has to go to a restaurant with him, she gets the hotel mgr to teach her how to use a formal table setting. (2) My dentist, cussing as his fiber optic cable broke mid-procedure: “In technology, nothing has succeeded since the fork!” (3) When at home, if I can eat it with a spoon, I do.

    Reply
  112. (1) Table manners lessons: Pretty Woman. Note in the breakfast scene she picks up a pancake and eats it with her fingers. When she has to go to a restaurant with him, she gets the hotel mgr to teach her how to use a formal table setting. (2) My dentist, cussing as his fiber optic cable broke mid-procedure: “In technology, nothing has succeeded since the fork!” (3) When at home, if I can eat it with a spoon, I do.

    Reply
  113. (1) Table manners lessons: Pretty Woman. Note in the breakfast scene she picks up a pancake and eats it with her fingers. When she has to go to a restaurant with him, she gets the hotel mgr to teach her how to use a formal table setting. (2) My dentist, cussing as his fiber optic cable broke mid-procedure: “In technology, nothing has succeeded since the fork!” (3) When at home, if I can eat it with a spoon, I do.

    Reply
  114. (1) Table manners lessons: Pretty Woman. Note in the breakfast scene she picks up a pancake and eats it with her fingers. When she has to go to a restaurant with him, she gets the hotel mgr to teach her how to use a formal table setting. (2) My dentist, cussing as his fiber optic cable broke mid-procedure: “In technology, nothing has succeeded since the fork!” (3) When at home, if I can eat it with a spoon, I do.

    Reply
  115. (1) Table manners lessons: Pretty Woman. Note in the breakfast scene she picks up a pancake and eats it with her fingers. When she has to go to a restaurant with him, she gets the hotel mgr to teach her how to use a formal table setting. (2) My dentist, cussing as his fiber optic cable broke mid-procedure: “In technology, nothing has succeeded since the fork!” (3) When at home, if I can eat it with a spoon, I do.

    Reply
  116. Great post.
    I’m European so I have never realised that you could it differently.
    Cutting all the meat and then changing the fork or cut-change-eat sounds very complicated!
    Now I realise why you punt your left hand out of the table, something we find very strange and a little bit suspicious.
    And great posts of readers. I loved the chopstick etiquette.

    Reply
  117. Great post.
    I’m European so I have never realised that you could it differently.
    Cutting all the meat and then changing the fork or cut-change-eat sounds very complicated!
    Now I realise why you punt your left hand out of the table, something we find very strange and a little bit suspicious.
    And great posts of readers. I loved the chopstick etiquette.

    Reply
  118. Great post.
    I’m European so I have never realised that you could it differently.
    Cutting all the meat and then changing the fork or cut-change-eat sounds very complicated!
    Now I realise why you punt your left hand out of the table, something we find very strange and a little bit suspicious.
    And great posts of readers. I loved the chopstick etiquette.

    Reply
  119. Great post.
    I’m European so I have never realised that you could it differently.
    Cutting all the meat and then changing the fork or cut-change-eat sounds very complicated!
    Now I realise why you punt your left hand out of the table, something we find very strange and a little bit suspicious.
    And great posts of readers. I loved the chopstick etiquette.

    Reply
  120. Great post.
    I’m European so I have never realised that you could it differently.
    Cutting all the meat and then changing the fork or cut-change-eat sounds very complicated!
    Now I realise why you punt your left hand out of the table, something we find very strange and a little bit suspicious.
    And great posts of readers. I loved the chopstick etiquette.

    Reply

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