How to Stop Holding Your Utensils Like Weapons: We Talk to an Etiquette Expert

Categories: Interview, Musings

Photo by joeri_van_veen | Flickr CC
Stop treating utensils as weapons.
I never thought that I'd be one to discuss dining etiquette. After all, my first blog was entitled Uncouth Gourmands and my previous utensil usage brag was that I could fish pickles out of the jar with chopsticks.

Although, this past week I have switched from my loud and inefficient way of using a knife and fork -- known as American style -- to the much more elegant and efficient way known as the European/Continental style. I also consulted with Elena Brouwer, CEO (Certifed Etiquette Officer) of the Etiquette Centre in Hollywood to help me as I transition from fork in the right hand to fork in the left.

See also: At AQ in Sunny Isles Beach, Dewey LoSasso Gets Fancy and Fanciful

Courtesy of Elena Brouwer
The etiquette expert
To explain the differences in style, we went straight to the expert, whose video on eating Continental style on YouTube has over 320,000 views.

New Times: How would you describe the difference between the European style of dining etiquette and American style?
Elena Brouwer: The European or continental style is a bit easier and quieter, because your fork stays in your left hand and your knife stays in your right. You keep the tines down the whole time. It is actually also called the international style, most countries eat this way.

The American style is also called the "zig zag" style. It starts the same when you are cutting, knife in right and fork in left, but after you cut a couple of small bite-size pieces the knife goes down, you switch the fork from your left to right hand and you eat tines up.

What are the advantages of each style?
With the American style, the switching can help you to slow down and you can chew while you switch hands. The tines up allow you to scoop up your food. The European style also has it's advantages when you use the back of the tines you have smaller bites and you can also use your knife. It is helpful with something like peas that you can be chasing all over the plate. In the American style, you only use your fork in between cutting -- never use your fingers or bread to help.

What do they use in Latin America?
They use a hybrid of the two styles. It's mostly European, with the fork in the left hand the whole time, but they use tines up.

What kind of style do you see in Miami?
Barbarian style. A lot of young people holding utensils like weapons. In Miami, there is a lot of continental style. In Broward, you see more American style.

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