How American and European Dining Manners Differ

How American and European Dining Manners Differ


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By Lauren Brown

European and American eating manners tend to differ especially when it comes to using fork and knife. For someone who was raised the traditional American style, what you probably know is that you are supposed to cut food with the knife in the right hand, the fork in the left hand, and then switch the fork back to the right hand before taking a bite. Someone that was raised in a traditional English setting will find this way of manipulating the fork and knife to be inefficient and inelegant. They find the cutting and switching of the fork and knife to be a total waste of time.

How European and American Eating Manners Differ

Holding Fork and Knife

When it comes to dining in North America, two styles of eating are commonly used. They include the American style of eating and the continental style. Both of them are considered to be correct. You just need to be comfortable with whichever style you will choose. The American eating style is also called the zigzag method. It involves holding the knife in the right hand and fork in the left hand. If you are left-handed, you will need to hold the knife in the left hand and the fork in the right hand. After using the knife to cut the food while holding it with a fork, the knife is placed close to the top of the plate with the blade facing in. After that, the fork is switched to the right hand and used for picking the pieces of food up.

American Style

The continental style of eating thought to be more graceful compared to the American style. However, it takes practice to be perfect at it. The knife is held by the right hand while the fork is held by the left hand just like in the American style of eating. The fork is used for spearing the food and conveying it to the mouth. The knife and fork are crossed at the center of plate with the tines of the fork pointed down. When you are done eating, you will need to place the knife and fork on the right side of the plate side by side while facing in the 4 o’clock position. The knife should be on the outside with the blade facing in while the fork should be on the inside with tines facing down.

Continental Style

The European eating style tends to disagree a little bit with the continental style of eating. Many Europeans find the continental eating style to be rather inefficient. They find switching hands, putting down the knife and picking it up again to be too complicated. According to the European style of eating, you are supposed to hold the knife in the right hand and the fork in the left hand. The knife and fork should be kept in their respective hands while eating and not switched from one hand to another like in the continental style. You are not supposed to put the fork and knife down except when you are picking up bread or drinking. The knife is also used for guiding food onto the fork.

In the European style of eating, you are discouraged from cutting up an entire piece of meat at once. Instead, you should cut off a bite-size piece and then eat it off before you cut another piece. In case you have more utensils on your plate than just the knife and fork, for instance a dessert spoon and a salad fork, the rule is very simple: you are supposed to move from outside to the inward of each course. In some cases, spoons may be positioned above the plate rather than on the side. When you are done eating, you will need to lay the fork and knife side by side on the plate pointing to the center. Their handles should be on the lower right rim in the 5 o’clock position.

Importance of Knowing Good Eating Manners

In this era of take aways, convenience foods, extra-curricular activities and busy working parents, taking some time to sit down at a table as a family and learn good eating manners can prove difficult. Our manners have been watered down in some ways as a result of the influence of television programmes, particularly from America. It is very common to see people talking on their mobile phones while eating, using their hands to eat food instead of using cutlery, talking while their mouths are full of food and making other serious mistakes at the dining table.

Learning Good Eating Manners Can Benefit You In The Following Ways

  1. Social Advantage

By understanding good eating manners, you will understand what is socially acceptable and what is not. You will have the skills to on easily get on with other people. For instance, if you are picked by your company to represent it in a meeting that brings together people of different cultures or nationalities, you will not have a hard time getting along with those people at the dining table. You are going to paint yourself and your company in positive light with your good table manners.

  1. Increased Confidence

Good eating manners will make you more confident and flexible when you are in a formal banquet. You can eat and talk with the other people confidently without the fear of doing something that could end up leaving you embarrassed.

  1. Less Mess

Another benefit of learning good eating manners is that you will not make too much mess when you are eating. For example, knowing how to use cutlery properly is going to help keep food off your fingers.

  1. Good Impression

Knowing good eating manners is a great way to show the people around you that you are polite. It also shows that you respect people who prepared the food and those who will clean up afterward.

Final Verdict

Regardless of how old you are, it is not too late to start learning good eating manners. Apart from knowing how to use the knife and fork properly, you also need to know the right way to sit while eating, how to chew food in as respectful manner, how to bite food, and where or how to position your elbows white eating. You also need to learn how to eat at a leisurely pace, excuse yourself when leaving the table, wipe your mouth before drinking, use “please” and “thank you”, avoid reaching, avoid speaking with your mouth full of food, and complimenting the chef. Good eating manners show respect for other people. Even though there are cultural differences, there are broad agreements across the world when it comes to the way people should behave at the dining table.

Good eating manners should not only apply in formal banquets, but also at home. If you do not usually cook at home with the notion that is a time consuming process, there are many simple and quick toaster oven recipes that you can try. Apart from using the toaster oven to cook, you can also use it to reheat leftovers. By eating at home, you will be able to teach your children good eating manners when they are still young.

Image credit: huffingtonpost.com

Author Bio

I’m Lauren Brown, founder of Mess Makes Food. My passion is delicious dishes in the world. I’d like to introduce my healthy recipes to many people. I also want to share my mind in how to choose best kitchen gadgets and some tips in cooking process. Have great meals and enjoy!

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