Different eating habits among cultures

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by Mahaodeh, May 21, 2008.

  1. Mahaodeh Senior Member

    Arabic and English
    The use of cutlery in eating may differ from culture to culture, influenced by a thread in another forum; I’m interested in knowing how your culture eats “formally”. As an example, if you are invited to dine at someone’s house in Europe, you will be given a fork and knife to use while eating while in China you would be given chopsticks. How is the normative method in eating in your culture and how does the culture, in general not as individuals, feel about people who request different cutlery when dining with you; would you feel insulted or indifferent?

    From what I’ve noticed, in general Arabs tend to use forks and spoons; they use the fork to push the food in the spoon to eat. It’s very unlikely that anyone would put a knife on the table unless the food requires a knife (such as stake). It’s also likely that some people don’t use the fork at all. Food is usually all put on the table at once and each would pour in his own plate or bowl (depending on the type of food).

    Some, especially the more traditional, may like to use their hands, but they would probably offer at least a spoon anyway; in such cases people would use the thumb, index and middle fingers to eat with as using more than that is considered “uncultured”. They may, if they are very traditional, serve the food in one big plate and all would use that same plate to eat. However, I don’t believe anyone would feel offended if a guest asked for different cutlery although some people may feel surprised and think to themselves “isn’t easier to use a spoon”? But I doubt that anyone would have any chopsticks available.

    The Arabs are not a homogeneous group, so the above may differ from region to region, you may find some extensive use of forks among some, while other regions may continue to prefer spoons.

    What about your culture?
  2. mirx Banned

    In México we use 3 main utensils, a knife, a spoon, and a fork. If you are in a formal setting these would be provided even though they might not be used at all.

    We are big fast-food eaters, so it is very common for people to eat with their hands (pizza, burritos, tacos, hamburguers, zopes, tamales), but if requiered these street food stands will provide with plastic utensils.

    When eating at home we use always utensils, but in this case mom or who ever makes dinner knows what utensils are to be used, if someone requieres a different type he may ask for it or stand up and get it himself.

    Chinese establishments provide with chopsticks and forks, most Mexicans are rather clumsy handling the chopsticks but still want to act like we are professionals in chopstick-eating; the Chinese owners are usually considerate and provide a spare set of utensils.

    In Arab places (food outlets) people usually eat with their hands, or if the kebab is very big, people may want to cut it up in smaller pieces and then eat it.

    People don't get offended if someone asks for a different kind of utenils, anyways it's very likely that they won't have it. But it is very offensive and considered bad manners (or complete lack of them) to eat with the hands things that are to be eaten with utensils: steaks, poultry, soups, lamb and almost everything that people usually eat. Fast food being an exeption.

    It is disgusting when people eat with their mouths open.
  3. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    Hello Mirx and Mahaodeh,

    In Spain the usual layout is a spoon and a knife placed at the right side and a fork placed at the left side.
    If the dinner is very formal and includes fish and meat then the layout would be fish knife and meat knife at the right side and fish fork and meat fort at the left side.

    Cuttlery dedigned for eating fish is slightly different to the one designed for eating meat; however, fish cuttlery is neither used nor known in many households.

    There are some food that is eaten with the fingers. Crabfish, for instance. Or those very small green fried peppers called "pimientos de Padrón". They are usually served on a plate and people simply pick them up from that plate with their fingers.

    Chopsticks are provided if asked for at Chinese or Japanese restaurants or with take-aways, but I haven't met many Spaniards who know how to use them properly.

    Bad manners (apart from the ones already mentioned by Mirx) would be: to speak when your mouth is full of food, or to make slurping noises when eating soup, not wiping your mouth with the napkin before having a drink and digging at the interstices between your teeth wit a toothpick.

    What else... if a family has a beloved pet some special bit of food may find its way under the table.
  4. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    France is pretty much like Spain, although I think we would only have a spoon if there is some soup to eat (or for desserts, but it is not the same kind of spoon). At the restaurant or a formal event we may have several glasses: one for water, one for wine, one for yet an other sort of wine, etc.

    (Like the Spanish, there is a few things that we eat with our hands).

    We use our knife for two purposes: for cutting and for pushing food on the fork (which is why I would expect to have a knife even if there is nothing to be cut).

    An increasing number of French people may use chopsticks in Chinese restaurants; however these restaurants will provide you with standard forks and knives (as well as Tunisian, Indian, Vietnamese, ..., restaurants).

    I don't think it would be well perceived for a foreigner to ask for something exotic or to eat with their bare hands at a formal French dinner. Furthermore, most of what we eat actually requires a knife.

    It is traditionnally expected that you eat everything that's in your plate, otherwise it may suggest that you don't like your food. However many people today are watching their weight, so this is not always true.
  5. Gato_Gordo

    Gato_Gordo Senior Member

    The Western Pearl
    Spanish - México
    Funny how something that you feel is bad manners is not so elsewere...

    Me and my friends, we love japanese food and we are pretty good handling the chopsticks, but we can never bring ourselves to slurp on our ramen or eat rice the proper way (taking the bowl up to your mouth and using the chopsticks to push the rice into the mouth), becuse it feels like bad manners.

    Now, were we actually in japan, then we would be committing a faux pas ^_^
  6. Bilma Senior Member

    Spanish Mexico
    In some parts of Mexico, instead of forks and spoons people use tortillas. In an informal setting of course.
  7. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    In the US:
    Fork, knife and spoon at dinner, or if it's formal, then two forks -- a salad fork and a "regular one" -- and two spoons -- a soup spoon and a "regular" spoon, bringing us up to 5 utensils. We can go even higher if we have seafood, dessert utensils, etc. It can get quite formidable if you don't know which to use when. :confused:

    Breakfast and lunch tend to be less formal and have fewer utensils, if any at all.

    I have seen Europeans eating with the fork in their left hand (like after cutting their meat). That's not typical here. Good manners here, at least as I was raised, means only eating with your fork in your right hand. Your left hand stays out of sight in your lap unless you're cutting something. If you need to cut something, you switch the fork to your left, pick up the knife in your right, cut one or two bites, then put the knife down on the edge of your plate, switch the fork back to your right hand and go on from there. Back and forth all evening.

    No fair pushing anything onto your fork with your other utensils or your bread, either.

    Using your hands for anything meant to be eaten with utensils gets you looks of disgust and my mother's question: "Were you raised by wolves?", even though determining what is meant to be eaten with utensils and what is not can be tricky at times. I think the US considers more things "finger food" than Europe does, although I'll probably be corrected on that. ;)
    Last edited: May 21, 2008
  8. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    It's quite different here. Both hands should be on the table. Not the elbows, of course. Just both hands.
    If one hand were kept under the table people would wonder why did someone need to hide his/her hand just there, and what could they possibly be doing with it.

    And there is no switching the fork from hand to hand; they can be left on the side of the plate, but basically the protocol for eating a steack is cutting one bite with the knife, eating it, then cutting another bite, then another, and so on. With your fork in your left hand.

    It is allowed to push something onto your fork with the aid of a knife; peas, for instance.
    But never, never, never the other way round: it is terrible bad manners to push something (peas, for instance) onto your knife with the aid of your fork. And taking whatever it is to your mouth with your knife.

    It it dangerous and silly, too. But that is another question.
    Last edited: May 21, 2008
  9. Outsider Senior Member

    Portuguese (Portugal)
    I can't add much to what has already been said about European table customs. Only that, in less formal settings, it's not unusual to eat with a fork only (no knife), and many people eat fried chicken with their bare hands.

    I cringe when I'm with someone who slurps their soup. I can't help myself. :D
  10. Grop

    Grop Senior Member

    Exactly the same in France: both hands are supposed to be visible, for the same reason.

    I don't guarantee this is generally seen as good manners, but when eating a simple steak and peas meal I will do this way: use my fork in my right hand when eating peas (with the knife pushing peas on the fork), and often switch hands in order to eat meat with the fork in my left hand (only cutting what I am about to eat, with the knife in my right hand).

    I think Americans often put their knife on the table and only use their fork in one hand for a while. My hands are almost never empty (unless my plate is empty): both always hold something, no matter if it is a knife, a fork, a spoon, a glass or whatever.

    Pushing food on the fork with a piece of bread isn't common (the knife usually fits that role). However, when you have eaten everything that is solid in your plate, it is common (if the sauce is good and if you are still hungry - or if you want to show you like the sauce) to use bread like a sort of sponge and eat all the sauce.

    (I am not certain everyone would sauce their plate - my family has peasant origins, therefore good manners are related to practical issues such as not wasting sauce).

    This is generally true in France too, but there are exceptions: when eating oysters for instance.
  11. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    Hmm, suspicious people, you Europeans.... ;)

    I don't know why it's considered such bad manners here to keep your left hand visible or occupied throughout the meal, but to listen to my mother, anyone who keeps his/her left hand on the table is obviously a savage and must suffer the dreaded Raised Eyebrows and Pointed Look of Death until the offending hand is back in the lap where it belongs. :D

    Since we favor the right hand in other ways (the word for left in Latin gave us our word sinister with all its evil connotations, we only shake hands with our right, until fairly recently schoolchildren were not allowed to write with their left hand, etc.), I just always lumped this custom in with general "anti-left-ism." I don't know if there's truth to that, though.

    I have heard that this American way of eating pre-dates the contemporary European custom -- we kept it while the Europeans changed.
  12. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod (English Only)

    I would just like to add that, like other countries, the U.S. is not homogeneous. Although I am aware of the custom that jinti describes, I would be surprised if more than 1 out of 100 people I know would eat this way or would even know to eat this way at a very formal dinner. I would only think to eat this way at a formal dinner, such as a black tie affair. In daily life I would use my left hand for my fork and my right hand for any cutting, but then I'm left-handed. :)
  13. viera Senior Member

    Paris suburb
    The French meal is usually accompanied by bread (often baguette type), which has its own etiquette. At formal meals or in the restaurant it is served in chunks in a bread basket. It is considered bad form to bite into your chunk of bread. Nor should you cut it up with your knife. The thing to do is to break off a bite-sized piece and put it into your mouth.

    For the cheese course, most people use only their knife and their plate, on which they have a serving of cheese(s). You should cut a small piece of cheese with your knife, place it on a small piece of bread and put it into your mouth. During a meal, it is not considered good manners to spread cheese, even a soft cheese, on a large piece of bread, as if you were making a sandwich.

    Bread is great for soaking up the last of any delicious sauce; spearing it on a fork can be neater than just using your fingers. Many people are apologetic about doing this, saying it's not polite, but do it anyway.
  14. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    It's the same here.
    And soaking bits of bread into the yolk of a fried egg. Small bits, mind you.
    But of course no one eats a fried egg during a formal dinner.
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
  15. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    The 'American style' of eating with the fork in the right hand is considered bad manners in Austria (and probably in general in Europe).
    Good manners here is: fork in the left hand, knife in the right hand - you cut the meat or whatever with the knife and you eat with the fork! (Shuffling something onto the knife and eating directly from it too would be considered bad manners.)
    Spaghetti should be eaten with spoon and fork: again fork in the left hand, spoon in the right hand, and you 'wind up' the spaghetti on the fork while putting the fork on the spoon and rotating the former.

    But in many households or also in canteens of firms (or at school) it may be considered appropriate to first cut the food (if necessary) and then eat with the fork alone, usually in the right hand (or left hand if you're a lefthander). This hugely depends on what people expect, how formal the situation is, and so on; so to be on the safe side you always would have to begin with knife-right-hand and fork-left-hand to be sure to offend no one (so for example if you're invited to your girlfriend's parents for the first time you should under no circumstances eat with the fork alone - they probably might consider you bad mannered).
    And for spaghetti it could be okay to only use the fork (in your right hand) and rotate it against the plate, thus 'winding' them up on the fork.

    As for eating with your hands: there are several traditional dishes which could be eaten with your hands, and that would be:
    - spare ribs
    - fried chicken
    - some types of sausage dishes (Frankfurters, for example) even though for those eating with knife and fork is getting more popular recently
    This even might happen in high class restaurants though eating with hands in these is more likely to occur with (for Austria) more exotic dishes like for example lobster or mussels.

    Eating with sticks of course is possible in Asian restaurants; many however prefer the fork which are also provided for in these restaurants.

    Same here though many times we use Knödel for that (which you do not eat with your hands, you use the fork) - which could be translated as dumplings into English though it's not quite the same thing (ours is the 'central European style' dumpling). These you too can spear on the fork, like bread.

    And yet another thing - has become popular in the last two decades, the so-called Ritteressen = knight's feast where guests are supposed to eat with their hands and knife and fork is only provided for if one asks specifically. These however are not 'everyday' dinners but special occasions, usually booked in advance and served in a separated room (obviously other guests not booked in for a 'Ritteressen' might not be very happy having people besides them eating with their bare hands).
    Last edited: May 22, 2008
  16. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA
    My experience is more similar to JamesM's.
    One side of my family hold cutlery American style, they tend to set the basic knife, dinner fork and teaspoon or soup spoon for all meals but they don't use any of the extra specialized cutlery peices. They are not strict about putting their left hand in their lap while not using it, but in other respects they are similar to Jinti's family.

    The other half of my family (and me) holds cutlery European style - they are more recent immigrants, perhaps this is the reason.
    We use a knife, fork and spoon as needed - we don't set a knife and fork at breakfast if everyone is eating cereal.
    If we serve spaghetti we set a big spoon for twirling, if we serve soup we set a soup spoon, we set salad forks at dinner if guests are coming but not usually for small family dinners. We eat a lot of fish, usually cooked whole or on the bone, so we use fish forks and knives because they make fish easier to eat. There are also various kinds of dessert forks and spoons that make fragile pastry easier to manage so I'd set them if I served pastry.
    We are also "peasant stock" as Grop says ;-), and using bread to soak up sauce or soft boiled eggs, neatly!, is fine at 'family and friends' meals - wasting food would be a much more serious crime.
    Putting your elbows on the table is frowned on. Fried chicken or fish and chips or oysters/clams are eaten with your hands.
    The big issues - You must wait for everyone to be served before you start eating, unless the guests or the host asks everyone to start eating.
    Using your napkin to keep tidy is very important.
    Slurping anything, or chewing or talking with your mouth open, or shoveling huge amounts of food into your mouth is very rude.
    Reaching across the table for food instead of asking politely for it to be passed is terribly rude. My grandparents referred to that as the 'boardinghouse reach" and it could get you sent away from the table without your dinner.
    Making sure that the guest have been offered all the dishes and that their glass is full is the most important rule.
  17. mallujulia Senior Member

    Spain Spanish
    I agree with everything the Spanish people have said, but there are some more things I would like to say. In Spain we also tend to eat some food with our hands: ribs, chicken wings, snails, shellfish...etc.( and of course pizzas, hamburgers...etc.)
    One of the things few people know how to eat in a formal situation is fruit. When you are in a restaurant and you order some fruit for dessert ( something I hardly ever do) people doubt how to peel it. If I'm at home I peel with my hands but if I am at my mother's or in a restaurant I peel it with a knife.
    Another habit some people have, which is considered bad manners, is biting a big piece of bread. If you are eating a sandwich, then of course, you can bite the bread. But when you are eating , and you are holding a piece of bread in your hand you should eat it in one bite. Some people hold a big piece and eat it little by little by giving it some bites.That looks horrible.
    More eating habits. You should never start eating until everyone at the table has been served. You must also try not to lean on the plate when you are eating. You should try to sit properly.
    If I think of more habits I'll let you know
  18. Flaminius

    Flaminius coclea mod

    capita Iaponiae
    日本語 / japāniski / יפנית
    It is very bad manners.
  19. Gato_Gordo

    Gato_Gordo Senior Member

    The Western Pearl
    Spanish - México
    Then we've been had by our japanese friends o_O

    We'll take revenge by treating them to some Tortas ahogadas! ^_^
  20. gaer

    gaer Senior Member

    Fort Lauderdale
    James, if you are left-handed, why in the world would you cut with your right hand?

    The normal way of eating in the US is to use the right hand for the fork, for instance, then switch the fork to the left hand when cutting, with the right hand.

    The reason I am very aware of this is that all the people I've met in this country think I am left-handed. When I was young, my mother sat on one side of me, eating in the American way, while my father sat on the other side, eating in typical English fashion. He used the knife in his right hand while using a fork in his left hand at the same time.

    I copied both parents, partially, so I learned to use my fork and spoon with the left hand, then simply flipped the fork over when I need to cut something (such as meat). To this day I have great trouble using a fork or spoon with my right hand. :)
  21. viera Senior Member

    Paris suburb
    Sokol, I find the notion of a meal deliberately planned to be eaten with your fingers (Ritteressen) fascinating, since I love eating with my fingers. What kinds of foods would be included in Ritteressen; what would be a typical menu?
  22. Vale_yaya Senior Member

    Minnesota, USA
    I think this topic is very interesting!!!

    I'm left handed, and when I was young I was tought (in a protocol class)that I had to use my right hand to hold my fork until it gets time to "cut a slice of meat" and then exchange utensils, cut it and exchange them again and put the knife down... I remember my teacher "pulling her hair" trying to teach me how to do it "properly"... How could I do that if I could hardly eat with my right hand?... anyway...

    In Ecuador usually there's always a fork, knife and a spoon on the table (at least for lunch)... we usually have soup and main dish daily as lunch... sometimes even for dinner. No elbows on the table "ever", both hands on the table, and the switching thing with the utensils. Now I'm a grown up and I can decide how to eat, I keep exchanging utensils, but I eat with my left hand and I exchange utensils when it gets the time to do it.

    I find it interesting that we mix American & European protocol rules... ???..
    I've always thought that European have a special way to eat... very neat, delicate & formal... obviously in all parts of the world there's a high, medium and low class... but for some reason in Europe most of the people knows how to eat properly... (not trying to offend anybody) ... maybe is just a cultural thing... in Ecuador there's a lot of people who eats with their fingers (even food that it shouldn't be) and use their spoon to eat rice... (no way my mother would EVER allow me to do something like that... and I really don't see it well either)... spoon for desserts (small one) and bigger one for soups...

    Well... after reading this thread, It's kind of hard to say what is a "protocol rule" (besides the obvious ones) and what is not since there's difference between cultures.

  23. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Traditional Austrian food, basically: loads of Knödel (our variety of dumplings), spare ribs, fried chicken, several varieties of pork, Sauerkraut and Blunzen (for the former there's no English translation I guess, the latter is something similar to sausages made of black pudding) and so on.

    Not very healthy food (loads of cholesterol), and not all of it quite fitting my personal tastes, but that's beside the point anyway. :)

    At these Ritteressen, by the way, it is many times not only allowed but expected to 'behave badly' at the table, in any way you can imagine. Almost anything is allowed, but then of course what actually is allowed always will depend on the group going to a Ritteressen.
    These Ritteressen I do know only from rural Austria, by the way; so I'm not quite sure if this exists in Vienna too.

    You've already stated the most important thing yourself: there's high, medium and low class - in Europe too. As for Austria:

    - high class would be to eat 'the proper way': food that needs to be cut always with both hands, fork in left hand and knife in the right one, and all that stuff (there's loads more)
    - medium class: cut the food first and eat with the fork only, in the right hand (but still not 'hiding' the left hand below the table), and so on
    - low class: where a great many things are allowed (even belching though this of course would be considered lowest class and only just short of being considered down-and-out-ish)

    This was, by the way, different in medieval times - there's a German quote, attributed to Luther, from the Middle Ages which goes: 'Warum rülpset und pforzet ihr nicht? Hat es euch nicht gesmacket?' = English: 'Why don't you belch and XXX*)? Wasn't the food to your taste?" Meaning: there once seemed to have been a time where, in an inn, one had to make loud noises in order to compliment the cook. Such behaviour of course would be unthinkable of in our modern times. :)
    *) This would be something just short of defecating for which, unfortunately, I do not know the English translation - but even if I did the word might be considered inappropriate in this context anyway.

    The above mentioned Ritteressen wouldn't quite fit in here, as already described.
    Last edited: May 23, 2008
  24. alexacohen

    alexacohen Banned

    Santiago de Compostela
    Spanish. Spain
    There is an anecdote from WWI which states that American spies were found out because of their manners at the table: they could have passed off as Europeans but their table manners gave them away.
    It sounds quite like the medieval dinners organized in Spain. They may be private dinners organized by friends or "public" dinners where everybody may assist, as long as they are dressed appropiately and behave appropiately: that is, everyone must have a knife to cut the meat but there are no forks and fingers must be used to eat whatever is served (usually chicken roasted whole, game, wild hogs).
    There might be one wooden or brass plate for each person or a round loaf of bread.
    Good manners: cut a little piece of meat with the knife and take it to your mouth with two fingers.
    Bad manners: to take a big piece of meat to your mouth with both hands as if it were a sandwich.
    And discarded little bones are thrown on the floor. This is taking it a bit too far, because during Middle Ages the hunting dogs of the Master would have been under the table to eat all those bones and discarded bits of meat, but of course nowadays dogs are not allowed!
    Last edited: May 24, 2008
  25. Etcetera

    Etcetera Senior Member

    St Petersburg, Russia
    Russian, Russia (St Petersburg)
    In Russia, people usually use forks and knives when eating out. When eating at home, they may use only fork (unless they find it easier to use a knife as well. I certainly do).

    Eating with your hands is seen as very bad manners, and even children would be frowned upon (unless it happens in a certain restaurant of American origin :)). The parents of these children would almost certainly thought of as people who couldn't teach their kids to behave in public places.

    But it depends. If it's a family party, especially a child's birthday, people wouldn't insist on the children's following all the rules.:)

    As for chopsticks, they are used in Chinese and Japanese restaurants.
  26. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    We tend to hold on to the traditions with which our ancestors arrived. In my family, thus, we hold our forks in our left hands and both hands are visible; my in-laws eat with the fork in the right hand. Our copadres use chopsticks, and other friends use flatbreads. (My favourite is the Ethiopian injera, which is spread over the table like a giant tablecloth and then used to sop up the stew poured in the centre.) Fingers are for fast food or bones, and obviously gnawing on your bones is frowned upon in certain settings!

    Canadians of all backgrounds seem to be big on little silly items of highly specialized cutlery. This includes little ornamental forks for poking into the ends of corn on the cob; tined spoons just for eating grapefruit; and delicate forks with long handles which are only useful for eating lobster.

    In rural Mexico we always ate with tortillas instead of cutlery. A bit more tortilla to finish off the frijoles, then a little more frijoles to finish off the tortillas, a bit more tortilla .......
  27. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    Yep, exactly.
    So they do not only exist in Austria. :D
  28. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Just a comment to add to Viera's description: in France, there are no side plates for the bread, even in formal settings, except maybe in some sophisticated restaurants that have adopted them recently. In spite of the formal étiquette described above, you put your chunk of bread on the table.
  29. Mimi2005 Senior Member

    Eating in the Netherlands is in the general European way: with fork, knive and spoon, and more of the same when there is more than one course (which is almost always the case). In very informal settings people use the same cutlery for the next course (but always another smaller spoon for dessert). You can only do that at home, but never with guests.

    If someone from another culture would want other cutlery or another placement of the cutlery, that’s no problem. (I have chopsticks at home in case anyone wants them).
    But eating with the fingers is really not done, (except perhaps chicken legs that’s allowed, but not chicken breast for example, then you have to use knife and fork again) and very much frowned upon, also in family settings. The best way to go if you never want to be invited back.

    Food comes in courses, the food is never placed on the table at once. At home everyone helps himself to a portion, you do have to eat everything you put on your plate. It is improper to have left overs on your plate. Everyone waits till the last one filled his plate and then you start eating. Conversation is obligatory, however good the food is.
  30. chics

    chics Senior Member

    Catalan - Spanish
    What do you use for desserts, little forks ou spoons? In Spain usually we use little forks for cakes, for example, and only little spoons (like coffe or thea spoons) when it's a soupe or a creme. But in France I think I've never seen a fork for desserts in a restaurant, neither at somebody's home, but quite often big spoons (like ones for the soup) not very confortable.

    What about in your country?
  31. Chaska Ñawi

    Chaska Ñawi modus borealis

    an old Ontario farmhouse
    Canadian English
    Here it depends on the dessert .... we're a practical culture except for our fondness for finnicky cutlery.

    Forks for anything solidish, spoons for anything liquidish, fingers for anything cookie-ish.
  32. platoelio Senior Member

    Seville, Spain
    Hi everybody! Very interesting thread!

    In Italy is all quite the same as in other European countries, such as France, Spain, the UK...

    What may be interesting is talking about pizza. It is an Italian dish which has become truly international, but I have noticed that there are differences about people eating pizzas with fork and knife or with hands in different countries! (Pizzas - both dough and toppings - are different, too!)

    In southern Italy pizza has to be eaten with fork and knife and eating slice of pizzas with hands in a restaurant would be considered quite rude. In northern Italy (and often central Italy, as well) pizzas may be eaten both ways without any rudeness. As far as I know, pizzas are usually eaten with hands in France and Spain while it would seem very odd in Sweden!

    I guess this doesn't apply to pizzas bought in the street (kind of fast-food): they are eaten with hands everywhere, including everywhere in Italy!
  33. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    If you want to see dessert forks in French restaurants, you will have to pay the price... :) But they exist, although they are not often used except in special occasions.
  34. sokol

    sokol Senior Member

    Vienna, Austria; raised in Upper Austria
    Austrian (as opposed to Australian)
    I've got an addition on eating fried chicken with your hands (with both of them) in Austria: this thread inspired me on discussing the subjects with some friends and, especially, in my Spanish class. Our findings were as follows:

    - it is very much acceptable and nothing out of the ordinary to use both your hands for fried chicken in some regions of rural Austria; in fact it may even happen that fried chicken might be served in restaurants without knife and fork (which of course will be supplied if someone wishes) - this would be the case mainly in restaurants specialising on fried chicken (and also on the rural fiestas - the so-called 'Zeltfeste'), in 'normal' restaurants usually you'd get knife and fork without asking for it; this is so where I grew up, in Mühlviertel (Upper Austria)

    - proper etiquette in high-class restaurants and, according to my Spanish teacher and some classmates, even in medium-class restaurants in and around Vienna would be to use a fork in your left hand and your bare right hand to eat fried chicken (or knife and fork as usual with other food, if you wish so)

    My Spanish teacher has first-hand experience as she herself was used to using both hands (she's from Castilia, Spain) for fried chicken but got frowned upon as she did the same in a Heurigen restaurant here in Vienna (these aren't really 'high-class' restaurants, in former times even were lower-class but this has changed long since). And my classmates, all of them born and grown up in and around Vienna (while I grew up in rural Upper Austria), confirmed that using both hands in restaurants here in Vienna would not be considered proper etiquette. So some regional differencies here in Austria (social ones too, by the way).
  35. Sepia Senior Member

    High German/Danish
  36. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA
  37. platoelio Senior Member

    Seville, Spain
    I thought it was just Swedish, too.

    Lizzeymac, do you think it is quite common in the USA as well or is it just your family which came up to have one?
  38. Nunty

    Nunty Modified

    Hebrew-US English (bilingual)
    I first saw this kind of cheese cutter when my family moved to the US (late 1960s). Since then, I have always had one, and they are not hard to buy here in Israel. I wouldn't go so far as to say that every Israeli household has one, however.
  39. lizzeymac

    lizzeymac Senior Member

    New York City
    English - USA
    I wouldn't be able to say if was is common all over the US back in the 60s but I can remember seeing these cheeses slicers in many friends homes. Scandanavian design and culture became very popular in the 50s and 60s in NYC - Georg Jensen, Hans Wegner, Alto, Sarinen. Some of my earliest restaurant memories are of fondue and rosti and lingonberries and limpa bread.

    Many areas of the Midwest were settled by Scandanavians so I imagine this kind of slicer is common there, and in the major cities, and wherever there are "foodies" (gourmets). It's also sold in most of the KMarts I've been to.
  40. jinti

    jinti Senior Member

    I grew up in Pennsylvania with a cheese slicer like Lizzeymac's. I don't know if everyone had one, but nobody who came to eat at our house ever mentioned it, so I doubt it was out of the ordinary. We never thought twice about it, and I certainly never associated it with Scandinavians in particular. Of course, who knows... maybe I should have. :)
  41. chics

    chics Senior Member

    Catalan - Spanish
    Oh, :D!!!
    ...but, why? it's not a so great investment.

    About pizzas, yes, in Spain some people eat them only avec fork and knife, but a lot of people cut them with fork and knife but after they take it with their hands, specially the thinest. But we also eat like this our cocas (a very thin base of bread couvered with other ingredients, but whitout tomato sauce and cheese as pizzas) and torrades (grilled bread couvered by ingredients that may had been cooked or not). We eat pa amb tomaquet with our hands everywhere.
  42. Mimi2005 Senior Member

    I was always told this type of cheese slicer was Dutch, but the Wiki says it is a Norwegian invention.
    Many people in Holland use it, just like the "bottle licker" (a device to clean out a bottle of yoghurt for example).

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