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That book meme
Grabbed from everybody else.

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your LJ along with these instructions.
5. Don’t you dare dig for that cool or intellectual book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
Dear Miss Manners:
Could Miss Manners resolve a problem for a confused foreigner? I was brought up (as opposed to raised) to believe that it is correct to hold one's fork in one's left hand, tines pointing down, and one's knife in one's right. The fork is used to secure the particular square inch of food on which one has set one's sight, and the knife to sever it from its main body. The morsel of food thus attached, in single action, to the fork is conveyed by that utensil (tines still pointing down, of course) to the mouth.

[from Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin]
No idea why that was the closest book to me on my desk.

Current Mood: awake
Current Music: "The Only Living Boy in New York," Simon and Garfunkel

3 comments or Leave a comment
yokospungeon From: yokospungeon Date: August 5th, 2006 09:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I am a bit confused by Miss Manners's advice; there isn't another way to hold the knife and fork, is there?
(Deleted comment)
florafloraflora From: florafloraflora Date: August 5th, 2006 04:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Gosh, thanks. Miss M. is my favorite, and to be honest probably the only etiquette writer I would read.
florafloraflora From: florafloraflora Date: August 5th, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
That excerpt was just part of the question, not the question and answer, which may account for some of the confusion. Here, then, is the rest of it:

"[Question continued:] The knife remained poised for further use, at a suitably discreet angle and elevation, in the right hand. This procedure is repeated until all the food on one's plate (but not the gravy) has been eaten, or until the appetite is satiated, whichever happens sooner.
"When I came to the United States over two years ago, I was broad-minded enough to realize that in America it is normal practice to transfer food from plate to mouth with the fork (tines up) in the right hand, but chauvinistic enough to suppose that actually it is more correct to do it in the manner described above. Now I am being asked by those of my friends who are concerned for my friends who are concerned for my reputation in polite circles to believe that it is incorrect (a) to hold the fork with the tines pointing down; and (b) to have both knife and fork in hand at the same time. Am I to abandon all the tenets of English etiquette which I have held as true for so long?
"A simple answer to your question is that the left-handed eating technique you describe so well is the correct way to eat in Europe, and the fork-switching method is correct in the United States. However, there are several hidden issues here that complicate one's choice. If you will be patient, Miss Manners would like to address these more subtle matters.
"Among reasons cited for the 'Continental' method in the United States are the habits of childhood and loyalty to one's national origin, the desire to appear European, and the wish to eat as quickly and efficiently as possible. In your case, the first reason would be sufficient for you to stick to your original training. For Americans the second has to do with Western Europeans' being considered chic in America, while other countries are not, and their former citizens are usually therefore encouraged to become 'Americanized' as thoroughly as possible. Miss Manners does not approve of native Americans changing their habits in order to appear fashionably foreign. Nor does she accept their excuse that the foreign method is more efficient. Efficiency in food service or consumption is not desirable."
3 comments or Leave a comment