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Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

The British generally pay a lot of attention to good table manners. Even young children are expected to eat properly with knife and fork.

We eat most of our food with cutlery. The foods we don't eat with a knife, fork or spoon include sandwiches, crisps, corn on the cob, and fruit.

Things you should do:

If you cannot eat a certain type of food or have some special needs, tell your host several days before the dinner party.

If you are a guest, it is polite to wait until your host starts eating or indicates you should do so. It shows consideration.

Always chew and swallow all the food in your mouth before taking more or taking a drink.

You may eat chicken and pizza with your fingers if you are at a barbecue, finger buffet or very informal setting. Otherwise always use a knife and fork.

Always say thank you when served something. It shows appreciation.

When eating rolls, break off a piece of bread before buttering. Eating it whole looks tacky.

When eating soup, tip the bowl away from you and scoop the soup up with your spoon.

When you have finished eating, and to let others know that you have, place your knife and folk together, with the prongs (tines) on the fork facing upwards, on your plate.

In a restaurant, it is normal to pay for your food by putting your money on the plate the bill comes on.

Things you should not do:

Never lick or put your knife in your mouth.

It is impolite to start eating before everyone has been served unless your host says that you don't need to wait.

Never chew with your mouth open. No one wants to see food being chewed or hearing it being chomped on.

It is impolite to have your elbows on the table while you are eating.

Don't reach over someone's plate for something, ask for the item to be passed.

Never talk with food in your mouth.

It is impolite to put too much food in your mouth.

Never use your fingers to push food onto your spoon or fork.

It is impolite to slurp your food or eat noisily.

Never blow your nose on a napkin (serviette). Napkins are for dabbing your lips and only for that.

Never take food from your neighbours plate.

Never pick food out of your teeth with your fingernails.

Things that are ok to do:

It is ok to eat and drink something while walking down the street, unless you want to seem posh.

It is ok to pour your own drink when eating with other people, but it is more polite to offer pouring drinks to the people sitting on either side of you.

It is ok to put milk and sugar in your tea and coffee or to drink them both without either.

I am not used to eating with a knife and fork. What do I need to know?

We eat continental style, with fork in the left hand and the knife in the right (or the other way round if you are left handed). At the top of your plate will be a dessert spoon and dessert fork.

If you are eating at a formal dinner party, you will come across many knives and forks. Start with the utensils on the outside and work your way inward with each subsequent course

How to eat with a knife and fork in England

The fork is held in the left hand and the knife in the right.

If you have a knife in one hand, it is wrong to have a fork in the other with the prongs (tines) pointed up.

Hold your knife with the handle in your palm and your folk in the other hand with the prongs pointing downwards.

When eating in formal situations, rest the fork and knife on the plate between mouthfuls, or for a break for conversation ...

Source a Junior School website

http://www.woodlands-junior.kent.sch.uk/customs/behaviourfood.html

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

Most of my Polish family don't use knives at the dinner table. At least not at home.

My father-in-law prefers to use a spoon for everything.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

could this be something to do with The Bad Old Days and the length of time the meat had to be cooked in order to made it at all edible?

my husband pokes at his meat with the side of his fork, expecting it to fall apart at a touch. As wifey doesn't cook the meat to extinction, nothing useful happens.

c

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

"The British generally pay a lot of attention to good table manners. Even young children are expected to eat properly with knife and fork."

Maybe in the olden days. You might get taught how to use a knife and fork, but these days nobody cares about etiquette. Nothing to do with class, but a sign of the times. I've been out with (English) guys who went to top private schools or oxbridge graduates who shovel food into their mouths with no thought for decorum. Men in general often do this whatever level of society they are in. It's supposed to be equated with sexual appetite.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

"When eating soup, tip the bowl away from you and scoop the soup up with your spoon"

I tend to follow all the above "things you should or should not do" instinctively. Apart from the tipping soup bowl away from me. I think this is really super pretentious and also impractical anyway in these days of deep round bowls. I never finish my soup anyway. I guess that's rude, but in some countries if you finish a plate of food they give you more. Customs around the world vary and you should of course follow the "when in Rome..." approach otherwise you are then seen as rude yourself.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

>>but I think it's quite refined and ladylike to eat with only a fork

"Hmm, interesting perspective..!"

If you met me Sosh and had a meal with me you would never question that I have impeccable table manners. I am very fussy about eating nicely and this is why I am so observant of other people's bad habits. My pet hate is anyone talking with a full mouth or anyone making eating noises of any kind or eating with their mouth open.

I will add to the list above to say that I think it IS very bad form to eat or drink when walking down the street (unless it's an ice cream on a hot day). It's also bad form to eat on the tube. It's impolite to bring food to meetings and sit there eating and talking unless the meeting is a working lunch. In which case it's bad form to heap too much on your plate or to eat noisily when others are talking.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

"The British generally pay a lot of attention to good table manners. Even young children are expected to eat properly with knife and fork."

Maybe in the olden days. You might get taught how to use a knife and fork, but these days nobody cares about etiquette. "



I don't agree at all. I only left England just over a year ago. I'm sure good manners haven't changed so quickly.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

"I don't agree at all. I only left England just over a year ago. I'm sure good manners haven't changed so quickly."

No idea how old you are Victor but most teens don't even seem to know what a knife and fork is these days, and I'm not talking about those from deprived communities, I'm talking about ordinary kids from affluent homes where both parents are educated. It's likely to lead to a complete change in etiquette over the next twenty years. There is a change in lifestyles driving this. Absent parents (either trough work or divorce) and a sedentary lifestyle etc.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

It may not be politically correct to say but table etiquette is in large measure class influenced. This is not to say that many of the upper class are not boorish or that the simplest of folk do not have refined manners. But one can certainly deduce much from observing peoples table manners.

Precisely because of the ability to deduce much of a person’s background from such observations; people have hidden their training in table manners. During the war U.S. prisoners of war specifically trained to reverse the fork/right knife/left manners of their home and officer training. This was to make them more inconspicuous if they were to escape imprisonment. In the citizen-comrade period in Poland many upper class Poles eschewed years of training to not flag that they were of the “oppressive bourgeoisie”.

In 1975 while hiking around Międzylesie south of Kłodzko I altered my usual routine of picnic lunching by stopping into a roadside knajpa of the lower sort as they (surprisingly) had roast chicken on the menu. (Presumably, as this was a main freight route but not a tourist road, TIR drivers were privileged to food access despite food shortages at the time). Oblivious to my surroundings I reflexively proceeded to dine with knife and fork as though I were at the Ognisko in London. It was only as I was finishing that I noted that the place was quite silent and several surly types across the room were scowling at me. I left with only a mere “psa krew, szlachta” muttered at me. I don’t doubt that if it were later in the day with a few more beers into the patrons that my stay would not have been as pleasant.

Mind you; that same year in Głuchołazy, I witnessed the parish priest teaching local children full table etiquette as “respect for God’s offerings” and I have seen such exemplary manners in practice in the most backwoods of places.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

""It may not be politically correct to say but table etiquette is in large measure class influenced. This is not to say that many of the upper class are not boorish or that the simplest of folk do not have refined manners. But one can certainly deduce much from observing peoples table manners.""

Absolutely correct.

Interesting post.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

Americans observe different rules when eating. I had this pointed out to me in detail by a well brought up American boy before asking him to fit in with English etiquette, as it was a Surrey prep school. Manners maketh man.

Re: Knife and fork use at dinner

http://www.cuisinenet.com/glossary/use.html

See the above link for a comparison of american and european techniques...