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View Poll Results: How Do You Hold Your Knife And Fork When Eating?
I switch the fork to my right hand after cutting food. 58 28.86%
I keep the fork in my left hand at all times. 105 52.24%
Other. 38 18.91%
Voters: 201. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:17 AM
DMark DMark is offline
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How Do You Hold Your Knife And Fork When Eating?

Growing up in the US, it is fairy normal to hold the fork in your left hand and knife in the right hand to cut food, and then you switch hands and eat with the fork in your right hand.
However, when I moved to Europe I noticed people would always hold the fork in the left hand, and then use that fork in the left hand to eat (not switching to the right hand). I learned that method and it really is far more practical.
Do you switch hands after cutting the food?
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  #2  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:29 AM
tallcoldone tallcoldone is offline
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I actually learned the "European" style on international business travel; growing up in rural Ohio I guess everybody did the switch like I used to. Once I noticed it and thought about it for a minute, it seemed obvious that not switching was much better.

I have had other Americans ask me about it and some think it's snooty or something. Just makes sense to me.
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  #3  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:44 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Other. I keep the fork in my right hand.
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  #4  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:48 AM
silenus silenus is online now
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Other. If the food I am eating only needs sporadic cutting, then I switch hands. If I need to cut every bite, like a steak, then I keep the fork tines down in my left hand.
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  #5  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:51 AM
Laggard Laggard is offline
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Never understood the switching hands thing. Just keep your fork in your left hand at all times. Or your right hand at all times.

Me, the fork is always in my left hand.
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  #6  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:54 AM
chizzuk chizzuk is online now
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I keep the fork in my left hand. Switching seems like wasted effort when I can eat just fine with my left hand. Often I will hold the fork or spoon in my left hand even when I'm not using a knife.
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  #7  
Old 05-25-2012, 11:55 AM
hogarth hogarth is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Other. If the food I am eating only needs sporadic cutting, then I switch hands. If I need to cut every bite, like a steak, then I keep the fork tines down in my left hand.
Same for me. So I keep my fork in my left hand if I'm eating steak and in my right hand if I'm eating a stir fry.
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  #8  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:15 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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I assume you're asking about the main course. Basically the utensil with which food goes into my mouth stays in my left hand.
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  #9  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:28 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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I remember when i moved to the US and saw people switching hands when using their forks. I thought they must have some sort of injury or defect, and when i asked about it, i couldn't believe that people would actually cut, put down the utensil, and change hands to eat. My American wife does it, and i still marvel at it sometimes.

I'm like TriPolar; i keep the fork in my right hand both when cutting and when eating.
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  #10  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:28 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Fork in left hand the whole time, knife in right. I'm left handed though, so I didn't really have to learn to use the left as my primary food shoveling hand, that part just came naturally.
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  #11  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:29 PM
mhendo mhendo is offline
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Originally Posted by Martin Hyde View Post
Fork in left hand the whole time, knife in right. I'm left handed though, so I didn't really have to learn to use the left as my primary food shoveling hand, that part just came naturally.
I describe myself as left-handed (writing, throwing, kicking, etc.), but when i use a spoon or a fork alone i'm far more comfortable using my right hand.
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  #12  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:36 PM
Leaffan Leaffan is offline
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Fork always in left hand. But then again, I'm Canadian. And then again, I was born in the UK.
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  #13  
Old 05-25-2012, 12:48 PM
Lanzy Lanzy is offline
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Fork in left hand. Never "learned'' this anywhere it just makes sense.
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  #14  
Old 05-25-2012, 01:13 PM
heathen earthling heathen earthling is online now
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Am I the only one who has no idea? I can't even test this by eating something, because I'll be overthinking it now.
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  #15  
Old 05-25-2012, 01:50 PM
corkboard corkboard is offline
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As a kid I was taught 'fork in left hand to cut, then switch', which is how I've done it most of my life. But a previous job had me going to France a few times a year, and some of my coworkers were European, so this came up in conversation a few times. I realized the convenience of keeping the fork in my left hand. Now I probably switch 60% of the time, and keep in in the left 40% of the time.

I taught my kids they can do it however feels more comfortable for them, as long as they don't hold any of the utensils in their fist.
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  #16  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:01 PM
Pai325 Pai325 is offline
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Originally Posted by silenus View Post
Other. If the food I am eating only needs sporadic cutting, then I switch hands. If I need to cut every bite, like a steak, then I keep the fork tines down in my left hand.
Same for me.
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  #17  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:18 PM
Shakes Shakes is offline
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I eat European style.

What's weird, is the rest of my family eats western style. And according to my Mom, nobody taught me to eat like that. I just did.

Never spent a day in my life in Europe!

Even more weird, both my sons refuse to eat European style. I tried to tech them. They just don't like it.

Last edited by Shakes; 05-25-2012 at 02:20 PM..
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  #18  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:19 PM
Pixel_Dent Pixel_Dent is offline
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Another vote for fork stays in the right hand and knife in left. When cooking I always hold the knife in my right hand. I have no idea why. It feels strange to cut with my right hand while sitting or with my left hand while standing.

I throw right and bat left in baseball. Maybe it's related.

Last edited by Pixel_Dent; 05-25-2012 at 02:21 PM..
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  #19  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:28 PM
Ponch8 Ponch8 is offline
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Switching the fork to the other hand for every bite is the stupidest thing I've ever heard of. Luckily my parents use the fork the easy way, so I was never taught that I was supposed to switch constantly. It's only been 4 or 5 years that I've even been aware of the hand-switching crap.
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  #20  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:34 PM
Covered_In_Bees! Covered_In_Bees! is offline
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Fork goes in my left hand. I'm right-handed so I use the increased dexterity and control to use the knife to cut, then stab the piece of meat with the fork and bring to mouth.
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  #21  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:47 PM
Martin Hyde Martin Hyde is offline
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Originally Posted by mhendo View Post
I describe myself as left-handed (writing, throwing, kicking, etc.), but when i use a spoon or a fork alone i'm far more comfortable using my right hand.
I think most lefties have a few random things they prefer to do with the right. For me eating w/a utensil has always felt somewhat similar to "writing" so I'm not surprised I do both with the left.
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  #22  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:47 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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My parents are from Europe, so they taught me to eat European style. They never even knew there was another way until much later.
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  #23  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:51 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is online now
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Interesting that so many choose the right hand for the knife for better control. When cooking I'll also use the knife in the right hand, and carving too. And I think if I were going to entirely cut up a steak into pieces before eating any, I'd switch to fork in left and knife in right. But I don't think I've done anything like that since my kid's were little. I guess I don't find any food that difficult to cut that I need to bring my right hand into play. I'll usually just use the side of the fork to cut things if I can. And if a piece of meat is so tough I need my right hand to cut it, I don't think I want to eat it.
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  #24  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:54 PM
drewtwo99 drewtwo99 is online now
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I always eat with a fork in my right hand, regardless of whether or not I am cutting anything. So when I do eat food that requires cutting with a knife, knife goes in the left hand, fork stays in the right. I'm right handed so this is very natural for me. I can't even imagine the embarrassment that would befall me should I try to bring a fork to my mouth with my left hand.
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  #25  
Old 05-25-2012, 02:56 PM
E. Thorp E. Thorp is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by suranyi View Post
My parents are from Europe, so they taught me to eat European style. They never even knew there was another way until much later.
I have one European parent and one American parent, and my siblings and I are divided over the fork-holding. I keep the fork in the left hand, like Dad; they switch hands like Mom.
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  #26  
Old 05-25-2012, 03:25 PM
Anaamika Anaamika is offline
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Not switching hands is absolutely more practical. But I always switch hands. Why? I really suck with my left hand. If I try to eat with it I'm not even positive the food will make it to my mouth! Ok, maybe I exaggerate a little bit, but really, I'm just steadier with my right hand.

I see at least drewtwo99 is in the same boat as me. So some of us don't do it because of any reason, because we're American or because we're trying to make a point. Some of us just aren't sure that left hand can handle all that responsibility.
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  #27  
Old 05-25-2012, 03:34 PM
DCnDC DCnDC is online now
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Other.

When eating something that requires a knife and fork, accompanied by other foods that require only a fork, I use two forks: keep fork in left hand, use knife with right hand, switch knife with 2nd fork when necessary.
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  #28  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:05 PM
Jamaika a jamaikaiaké Jamaika a jamaikaiaké is offline
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I can't recall the last time I used a knife while eating.

If I did, I'm pretty sure it would go in my left hand, as it's much easier to cut with the dominant hand.

So other on two counts.
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  #29  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:16 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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I switch hands, because that is what I was taught. What is the point of holding a knife throught the whole meal, when most of the meal doesn't require it?
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  #30  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:38 PM
congodwarf congodwarf is offline
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I am right handed. I eat with my right or left hand. If I'm using a knife, I cut my food, put the knife down until it's needed again, and continue eating with my left hand. I never saw any reason to put my fork in my right hand, knowing full well that I'd be using the knife again. If I'm eating something that doesn't need a knife, I'll use whichever hand picks up the utensil first.
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  #31  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:44 PM
Ibanez Ibanez is offline
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I'm right handed, and keep the fork in my right hand all the time. Left hand is for the knife.
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  #32  
Old 05-25-2012, 04:50 PM
ZenBeam ZenBeam is offline
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As an American, I eat food the American way as God intended, dammit, switching hands as a sign of respect for God and Country.







OK, I've tried the European way, and it's OK I guess. It feels awkward to me, but I'll probably try it again sometime.

As a scientist, I can see the efficiency argument, so if I were European, while I'd probably try switching hands, just to experience it, I think I'd be much less likely to switch.

Last edited by ZenBeam; 05-25-2012 at 04:50 PM.. Reason: Oops. Undermined my own rant...
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  #33  
Old 05-25-2012, 05:42 PM
Lochdale Lochdale is offline
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From an efficiency stand point the European Way is certainly the best. Assuming you are right handed, it does all the heavy cutting with the left hand politely bringing the food to the mouth.

Any other way makes you look like a savage.
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  #34  
Old 05-25-2012, 06:19 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is online now
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DMark, I never figured you for a handist You'd think 10-14% of the population would be enough not to get overlooked in polls about using whatever hand...

I of course use my left hand to cut, then put the knife down and pick up my fork with my left hand to eat. Why would I hold the knife the whole time? It reminds me of cartoons where they show the savage characters holding both the knife and fork and salivating while waiting to be fed tasty human flesh.

Okay, that's not really why I switch hands. If I try to use a spoon or fork with my right hand, odds are good I'll end up spilling food all over the place. Ole rightie isn't so bad with gross motor activities, but that hand has pretty poor fine motor control.
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  #35  
Old 05-25-2012, 06:41 PM
pulykamell pulykamell is online now
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I grew up eating Euro-style with the fork in my left (non-dominant) hand, and it just feels weird to me to even have the fork in my right hand.
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  #36  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:01 PM
amarinth amarinth is offline
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While intellectually, I know that different cultures have different rules for how utensils are to be used at the table, when I notice someone with the fork in one hand and the knife in the other and not putting them down my first thought is "raised by wolves." Even more so when they're holding them in fists. And still more when they have no trace of a non-American accent. I don't go around scrutinizing the way people hold their forks, but if I do happen to notice I think it odd, at best.

No, switching isn't efficient. So what? If efficiency was the point, you'd not bother with utensils other than a sharp knife.
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  #37  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:04 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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Interestingly, when I'm carving a joint, I have the carving fork in my right hand and the carving knife in the left. I'm left-handed, albeit modestly ambidexterous, so I suppose it's a case of the business tool being in the dominant hand.
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  #38  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:10 PM
ryan ryan is online now
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I'm right handed and will switch back and forth if I'm eating something that needs just a few cuts. On something like a steak I'll eat with the knife in my right and fork in my left.
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  #39  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:12 PM
Quartz Quartz is offline
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How does the switching hands thing work at banquets? You're packed closely, so not eating in synchronisation your neighbours is going to cause elbows to collide, isn't it?

Or is this one reason why Americans have banquets at round tables?
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  #40  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:16 PM
Maserschmidt Maserschmidt is offline
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My German mom taught me to keep the fork in my left hand, and I honest-to-God didn't know there was another approach until I was in my 30s. I was out to dinner one night with co-workers in Kansas City when one of them began quizzing me about it.

Then of course I was sensitized and looking to see how other people eat. The savages.
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  #41  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:18 PM
Fear Itself Fear Itself is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Quartz View Post
How does the switching hands thing work at banquets? You're packed closely, so not eating in synchronisation your neighbours is going to cause elbows to collide, isn't it?
No moreso than keeping the fork in the left hand and the the knife in the right like a barbarian waiting for hand-to-hand combat.

Last edited by Fear Itself; 05-25-2012 at 07:19 PM..
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  #42  
Old 05-25-2012, 07:21 PM
WarmNPrickly WarmNPrickly is offline
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What Americans really need is a more efficient way to eat.
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  #43  
Old 05-25-2012, 08:53 PM
SeaDragonTattoo SeaDragonTattoo is offline
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I did the switching thing until I went to England and spent 4 months there when I was 19. I learned the fork-in-left thing, and using the butter knife as a tool for loading the back of the fork.

For people asking - that's why the knife stays in the other hand the whole time - you're forgetting the fork is also tines-down, so unless everything on the plate can be stabbed (mashed potatoes, peas, etc.), you use the knife to slide bits onto the fork and sort of press them together so they don't go rolling off the tines.

I never did get the hang of the fork-loading method, so I do a sort of hybrid thing and only sometimes switch. I will mostly eat with my left hand, especially if there are things that need cutting whether with steak knife or butter knife, but things that are single-utensil I'll eat with my right hand. Like a plate of potatoes or breakfast food for example. Those I'll start and finish with just my right hand. Weird. Now that I think about it, once all the cuttable things on the plate are eaten or all cut, I think I also switch to my right hand again to finish.
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  #44  
Old 05-25-2012, 08:59 PM
Dr. Strangelove Dr. Strangelove is online now
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I'm left-handed. If I'm eating something that doesn't require cutting, like mashed potatoes, I keep the fork in my left hand. But when eating steak, the knife goes in my left hand, the fork in the right, and I don't switch to take a bite. Overall I might switch a few times during a meal, not dozens.
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  #45  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:02 PM
JBGUSA JBGUSA is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DMark View Post
Growing up in the US, it is fairy normal to hold the fork in your left hand and knife in the right hand to cut food, and then you switch hands and eat with the fork in your right hand.
I was taught to always keep my fork in my right hand, though I found that too difficult.
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  #46  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:02 PM
Walkabout Walkabout is offline
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My parents grew up in Australia and learned to eat European style, but I was born in the US and was at least partially influenced by my peers. I keep my fork in my left hand and knife in the right anytime I am eating anything that requires cutting, but if there is no cutting needed I put down the knife and scoop things up with my fork in my right hand. Most of the time, though, I am switching between foods and retain my knife in my right hand just in case it's needed.
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  #47  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:06 PM
RickJay RickJay is offline
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Knife in left, fork in right, and they stay that way.
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  #48  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:24 PM
Max the Immortal Max the Immortal is offline
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Why on Earth would anyone switch like that?
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  #49  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:24 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WarmNPrickly View Post
What Americans really need is a more efficient way to eat.
Aren't we good enough eaters as it is? What do you want, us fatter?
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  #50  
Old 05-25-2012, 09:31 PM
CrazyCatLady CrazyCatLady is offline
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Originally Posted by amarinth View Post
No, switching isn't efficient. So what? If efficiency was the point, you'd not bother with utensils other than a sharp knife.
Yeah, I've never really understood the whole efficiency argument here, either--it's not like the goal is to cram the food into your slavering maw as rapidly as possible. If that were the goal, you'd just pick it up with your hands and shove it in, pausing only to growl at other diners who get too close. You're still going to take reasonable-sized bites, chew them, use your napkin, take a drink here and there, etc., so what the bleeding Christ does it really matter if you spend an extra minute or so over the course of the meal futzing with your cutlery?
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