Moving to Freedom, .Org

Subtleties of Cutleries

While reading a lengthy and interesting discussion of “America’s quirks” at MetaFilter, I was startled to see these observations/criticisms:

Everyone eats with one hand and keeps the other hand on their lap all through the meal. Also, sometimes they go through an elaborate switch-fork-to-left-hand-pick-up-knife-in-right-cut-up-food-then-switch-fork-back-to-right-hand dance.


Even educated people don’t know how to use knife and fork properly. Everything is cut into pieces and then forks is switched to right hand and everything is just scooped into mouth.

fork, knife, and spoon from, probably public domain

What’s this now?

First of all, I don’t keep a hand in my lap. Being right-handed, I hold my fork with that hand and use my left hand to guard my food and ward off attempts by my wife and daughter to steal things from my plate. I crouch low and form a protective half-circle with my free arm and hand, ready to throw an elbow or stab and slap with my fingers.

And my preferred eating utensil is a “spork,” of course. What a great invention! It cuts down on the complicated, time-consuming switching of implements, allowing for maximally efficient food-to-mouth loading.

But what’s this business about switching hands to eat and cut? This is a problem? Is it really that elaborate? And savage? I didn’t even know I was doing it wrong.

It’s shocking, I know.

I do apologize for my ignorance and lack of self-awareness, to anyone I may have offended.

That probably doesn’t include my wife, who I bet does the same thing. I wish I would have known this before we were married. How gross. And what about my innocent daughter? She’s had to witness this barbarism night after night, likely internalizing it irrevocably. Her continued, generational consignment to the dregs of the middle class is assured. But I’m not apologizing to her, either. The kid stuffs her mouth full of food, chews with her mouth wide open, and talks the whole time. She should apologize to me.

Just in case it’s not obvious: I do understand the value of proper table manners and rituals. How else are we supposed to feel superior to others who don’t know any better?