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Old 12-28-2006, 09:05 PM   #1
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Eating Etiquette

I believe that American etiquette at the dining table would best be described as eating modestly.

I took some simple shishkebobs to work once (meatball, tomato, mushroom, cube cheese) that were fully cooked and ready to serve. It was probably a potluck buffet type meal. I was surprised when people ate them by gnawing the food off the stick. Are you not supposed to push the food off the stick onto your plate and eat with a fork?

Of course we eat our spaghetti with a spoon and fork; we've got places to go and people to see. (I know there is another thread about this).

When I first came to Illinois, my father-in-law gave me a quick crash course for eating whole fried fish. How to remove the fin/bone section and enjoy the fish.

That cheese fondue thread has me thinking about this. How do you best serve yourself (forks for dipping, I know) but do you take one piece or two? I don't want to go into people using a ladle to fill their plates and tossing bread on top and using the fondue fork to eat it.

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Old 12-28-2006, 09:39 PM   #2
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I love this thread, already. I'm a victorian at heart, so etiquette is a passion.

Correctly, one should never be served food on a stick. However, it's all the rage, lately. Manners had to be created. If you are at a bbq and the host is preparing kabobs, they should not simply be left on a platter for everyone to help themselves to. Rather, the host brings one to each guest, and deftly dislodges the cooking stick from the food onto a plate, hopefully in an artistic fashion. In your case, I might not have brought the kabobs to a potluck dinner unless I was sure seating would be provided. Barring the presence of an official host, the guest should dislodge the food from the stick with a fork, sliding it down the stick, depositing the food on the plate. Both hands are needed for this procedure, hence a seat being necessary. I would have opted for a meal that wouldn't require any more dexterity than manuevering through a crowd with a plate.

Spoons are not a necessary tool for consuming spaghetti. While they aid in the twirling process, they are not necessary if a more managable number of strands are woven between the tines, initially. Twirl as much as the fork will hold, and then bring the fork to the mouth. The head can be lowerd to the fork, but not overmuch. Don't resemble a colt going to the water trough. Put the fork into the mouth, and invariably, a few strands will loosen at the end. In one quick movement, move the fork from the mouth to beneath the loose strands, holding them away from the chin, and gently suck them in without opening your mouth to a gaping maw. With practice, your chin will never get soiled.

I was taught to put a mouthful of fish into the mouth, and discretely chew initially with the front teeth, looking for bones. If you discove a bone, discretely remove it with your fingers after your tongue discretely pushed it to the lips, and then simply place it on the edge of your plate. Some things you simply cannot hide, but can attend to with grace.

Fondue....Everyone is given a coloured fork, yes? Guests should also be given a knife and an eating fork, as well. The fun of fondue is to dip the long pretty fork into the gooey pot. Who wants to use a ladle?? On the other hand, who wants to take home every bacteria that is lodged firmly in the mouths of every other guest sitting about the pot?? The long fork is simply for dipping. After you have sufficiently gathered up the sauce on your personal tidbit, lift your fork out of the pot. Instead of bringing the dripping mass to your plate, take your plate to the fork which is hovering over the hot pot like Joe over the volcano. Then, return them, together to the table. Use your eating fork to dislodge the food from the spearing fork without touching tine to tine. Eat with the small fork.

I do so love this...
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:24 PM   #3
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StirBlue, thanks for the thread and VeraBlue, thanks for your comments. I look forward to reading all the future posts herein, just in case I should ever find myself in polite company.
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Old 12-28-2006, 10:55 PM   #4
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I am thinking fondue on a table with many other foods. Should you place a spoon or something nearby for people wishing to retrieve lost bread (or other items) from the pot. I know your not supposed to use one chip to get another one out of the dip.

I have been terrorized for cutting sandwiches in half when serving them. Two halves on a plate with fries or chips. But never with fruit cocktail.
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Old 12-28-2006, 11:40 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by skilletlicker
just in case I should ever find myself in polite company.
I have no reason to hold a grudge against anyone drinking out of the jug, carton, pitcher, in their home. It's not a wrongful thing so much as a preference.......then one day, somebody burped in the jug. Need I say more?
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Old 12-29-2006, 01:09 AM   #6
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Good advice, Vera!
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Old 12-29-2006, 06:27 AM   #7
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Here in Australia we are so used to barbeques and kebabs that we just eat the meat off the skewer. When you have to stand up and eat that is often the only easy way.

Having said that though, when I am in a restaurant I will generally use the fork to take the meat off the skewer as do a lot of people. But it is no big deal to see someone in a restaurant eating straight from the skewer.
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Old 12-29-2006, 06:37 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StirBlue
I am thinking fondue on a table with many other foods. Should you place a spoon or something nearby for people wishing to retrieve lost bread (or other items) from the pot. I know your not supposed to use one chip to get another one out of the dip.

I have been terrorized for cutting sandwiches in half when serving them. Two halves on a plate with fries or chips. But never with fruit cocktail.
Generally, fondue is served to a small gathering, with eveyone sitting about the pot. If the fondue is on a buffet table, then the dipping forks should still be present. If a piece of bread drops off the fork, simply use the same fork to retreive it.

There is no reason not to use one chip to retreive a broken chip from a dip bowl if you are the one who broke it. I doubt a spoon would be closer than another chip. It would be more polite to clean the playing field for the next consumer rather than go wandering off looking for a spoon to handle what a chip could deal with quicker. If the broken chip wasn't yours, and someone else left it behind, then yes, I'd suggest looking for a utensil to remove it, discarding it onto a clean plate and taking it to the kitchen discretely.

I don't understand the cutting of sandwiches being a problem. If you are preparing a luncheon and serving sandwiches, of course you'd cut the sandwich. Why would you hand a guest something unmanagable? I would do this in the kitchen, however, and not at the table. Also, any accompaniment to a sandwich is good form. Nowhere is it written that it must be a 'starch'. However, if you chose to serve a light fruit cocktail, it should be placed in a small bowl, or even on a lettuce leaf, so the juice from the fruit did not run to the bread.
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Old 12-29-2006, 06:45 AM   #9
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When it comes to kebobs, it all depends, IMO. Like if you are at the comfort of your own home with families or casual friends, what is wrong with taking a hearty bite out of a skewer... however if you are among a little more proper crowd, it would be safe to use forks... the same goes with many other things, watermelon comes to my mind...

With fondue, our fondue set do have the long forks with coloured handle, like Vera suggested. Which is a good idea I agree. Also we use tiny dishes for each to use, so the cheese won't drip all over the place between the pot and mouth.

No one uses a spoon to eat spaghetti in Italy. Many people are quite deft at neatly twirling a biteful on a fork at the edge of the pasta dish (they are semi deep, so you can push the fork agains it for this purpose), some people just twirl the half dishful onto a fork and gobble it down, some people just slurp them up, but never a spoon.

Also in Italy, aside from a street take away pizzeria where you buy them by a slice (here they usually fold the slice in two to make a "sandwich"), at a table people eat their pizzas with knife and fork, very rarely they grab a slice by hand. It took me a while before I realized this, and while no one say anything, it makes me feel a little barbaric.... thus I learned to eat with knife and fork if I do eat them in a restaurant... however we rarely do... we prefer our own homemade pizza at home!
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Old 12-29-2006, 07:27 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VeraBlue
I was taught to put a mouthful of fish into the mouth, and discretely chew initially with the front teeth, looking for bones. If you discove a bone, discretely remove it with your fingers after your tongue discretely pushed it to the lips, and then simply place it on the edge of your plate. Some things you simply cannot hide, but can attend to with grace.
and if you`re lucky enough to get some Larger Bones you can use one later to pick your teeth with

I`m a firm beleiver in not wasting anything.
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