Classic Eating Manners for Difficult Foods
If you are invited to a house party or a private function, you know very well that you have to bring with you the basic eating etiquette.This is not to impress other guests, but simply because it is a must in every social gathering.
Elegance with our eating manners is simply an attitude of enjoying the most simple pleasures of eating. Table manners of course do form the basics of dinner etiquette, and if you know even the most simple basics, you will feel confident at every dining situation.
There's actually no one...two...three... or strictly do this and do that.... we'll only learn what to do so as to be comfortable with eating. Let's begin.
Clams and Oysters
Special oyster forks are usually provided, but it is correct to use a dessert or cocktail fork to spear the oyster and dip into the sauce. The oyster is always eaten whole. Connoisseurs say that it should be pressed against the roof of the mouth, its juices extracted and then swallowed without chewing. This is fine for connoisseurs.
But if you merely want to enjoy your oyster, break it with your teeth in the usual way without masticating it. At an informal setting, it is okay to pick up the shell with your fingers and suck the oyster right off the shell. The same thing with clams, hold the shell with the left hand and lift the clam out using your oyster fork.
Typically, lobster is served with cracked points and with the tail split in half. But when served whole, crack the shell with a nutcracker then use a cocktail fork (that’s the tiny little thing with three tines) to remove the meat. Eat the tail meat by pulling out one piece at a time.
If you pull out a large piece, cut it with a fork. Pull off the small claws and suck out the meat (there's not much meat in them, but what's there is sweet!) as if you were drawing liquid through a straw. Place all empty shell pieces onto a separate waste bowl or plate. Crab, shrimp and lobster cocktails are always eaten with a cocktail fork.
Here is a complete step-by-step guide to eating lobster.
Corn on the Cob
No hostess in her right mind would offer this vegetable at a formal dinner. It is not easy to eat corn prettily but you can find three-pronged holders especially made to help you with this kind of food. Simply stuck in either end of the cob to enable you to lift it to your mouth without messing up your fingers. If corn is being served, fingerbowls should be used even at informal meals, as this is a messy vegetable.
I've included an infographic below that says about you and how you eat corn. It's fun!
Slowly pull the dish close and scoop the soup in movements away from yourself. Avoid overfilling the spoon or it will spill as you lift. Remember it's hot soup you are eating so lift your spoon carefully and slowly from the bowl to your mouth. Don't blow on your soup to cool it off. If it is too hot to eat, wait until it cools.
As you near the end of the soup, it is polite to tilt the bowl to scoop remaining soup, but tilt it away from you and not towards you. Simply push the bowl away from you gently when you're through. If a soup spoon is not provided, use a dinner spoon. Be careful as you might get the wrong spoon and end up eating soup with a serving dish spoon!
At a formal meal it should be cut up with a fruit knife and fork presented on the plate and not laid beside it. Large-sliced fruits are usually offered with a fruit knife to help you cut them into bite sizes then eat them with your fruit fork. Small fresh fruits like plums and apricots are eaten with fingers, as are dried candied fruits.
Peeled fruit is eaten cut side down on the plate so juice runs onto the plate while cut side facing upward for an unpeeled fruit to absorb the juice. You seldom see oranges served as they are really too difficult to cope with, although tangerines can easily be peeled, broken into small pieces and eaten with the fingers. Fingerbowls are also placed beside each guest.
These are served with melted butter or vinaigrette sauce. Each leaf is broken off with the fingers. Dip the base of the leaf into the sauce then bring the whole soft end in your mouth.
Gently pull it through your teeth to remove the edible part. Do not yank. You don’t want to look like a hungry dog tugging against a piece of food. Discard the rest by placing on the side of your plate. The heart is eaten with a dessert knife and fork after cutting the meat into bite-size pieces.
Here's more from the Etiquette Guy on how to eat artichokes in an elegant fashion.
In general, asparagus is viewed as finger food. Use your knife & fork to eat them in a formal setting and your fingers in a casual dinner. When the stalks are firm and are not sauced, it's okay to pick them up with your fingers, but one at a time. If the asparagus is limp or covered with sauce, use a knife and fork, and cut the stalk into bite-size pieces.
Hors d'oeuvres (awr durv), are light appetizers offered as an extra course. Since they are intended to allow guests to nibble on something while waiting for the main course to be served, they are often finger foods, such as cheeses, crackers and chicken wingettes, and eaten without the need for silverware. Unless there is something tough like sausage, salami or pieces of meat, from which fat must be removed. In this case, a knife and fork are used.
If sliced cheese is served as an accompaniment to a dish, it is eaten with a fork. When it is served as an appetizer, such as cubes on toothpicks, it is eaten with fingers.
Take the Simplest Rule
Any food that is covered with something like cheese, gravy, chili, etc., they are considered utensil foods, so use your fork. If still in doubt about what to do, use utensils.
Your eating habits reveal as much about you and the feeling can transform you from an ordinary eater to someone with class. Enjoy!
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