Dinner manners

I’ve been reading a lot of Miss Manners lately. She seems to think if some people (I did this all my life, cutting up all their meat when its served, even spaghetti) will bring down civilization.
Is it really That bad?
If you saw someone do this, would you be offended?

Offended? No.

It’s crude, but I’m too polite to mention it. Probably wouldn’t be inviting them anywhere civilized again.

It’s just a little less than elegant, is all. Of course I wouldn’t be offended - why would you be offended at how somebody cuts their meat? But I wouldn’t point you out as a shining example to the kids.

I wouldn’t be offended but I would certainly think it was weird and perhaps be a little embarrassed depending on the location/restaurant/context of the meal. Cutting all the food up first is something done for children, and so it’s an odd thing to see when adults do it. It seems juvenile.

Cutting up spaghetti is practical, but also less elegant. It wasn’t hard to learn to curl the noodles against a spoon or even the plate, and it just looks better than someone hacking away at their plate before even having any of the food.

It is not the end of the world but once you learn how to do things right I would just do them right. I have only seen that done with children and the elderly that have dentures and swallowing issues.

I was taught at a young age by my father dinner manners. How to put the napkin on your lap. To keep my elbows off the table. To never reach over someone to get something. How to hold a fork and cut meat correctly, how to twirl spaghetti. My brother once used his thumb as a knife and my father would rap him in the knuckle with his knife. I am not so anal that I cut pizza with a knife but I am glad I was taught how to do a few things the right way so I did not have to be embarrassed.

Have you ever eaten with someone that talks with a mouth full of food. That shovels food down like it’s their last meal. That doesn’t make polite conversation and put the fork down once in a while? I have and it ruins the meal for me. Cutting up all your food and spaghetti is not that bad! It is the bad table manners and conversations that get me.

Cutting up all the meat at the outset is silly, but it won’t torpedo civilization. Cutting spaghetti at all is a heinous barbarism that will likely lead not only to the catastrophic end of civilization, but to the destruction of the world. It is properly punished only by grisly death – after brutal torture. DO NOT CUT SPAGHETTI. Learn to twirl.

That isn’t the proper way, but in the minefield that is table manners, it is one of the tinier faux pas’ that may be committed. Inform your own children and spouse not to do it, and don’t mention it to outsiders.

To me, cutting meat all at once is simply unpractical. It will get colder a LOT faster than it you only cut off one piece at a time.

It’s a great way to make a beautiful prime rib into bloody carnage…

No offense, but my parents really didn’t know manners and never taught me. They did teach me not to read at the table though.
My point is, I never watch other people when I eat with them, so would not notice anything like that. Miss Manners seems overly …strict about certain things.

You don’t see the person sitting across the table from you? Never ever look at them?

I wouldn’t be offended by someone cutting up spaghetti (it’s certainly a better option than trying to take a whole strand at a time without knowing how), but I do find open-mouth eaters offensive. Even if they don’t periodically reach into their back teeth with their fingers.

I agree with everyone else. It seems kinda childish and odd, but on the grand scale of things it is a fairly minor issue. Way below talking with your mouth full or starting your meal before the person you are with has been served.

Okay, fight my ignorance here, but I thought this was the US method of dining, i.e. you hold your fork in your left hand whilst cutting up your meat with your knife in your right hand, then you transfer your fork to your right hand to eat it?

The “proper” US way for a right-handed person:

  1. Start with fork upside down in left hand, knife in right hand.
  2. Cut off a single bite-sized piece of food.
  3. Set knife down on edge of plate.
  4. Switch fork to right hand.
  5. Use fork to pick up the just cut piece of food.
  6. Put food in mouth.
  7. Switch fork to left hand.
  8. Pick up knife with right hand.
  9. Repeat from step 2.

Me? I eat like a Brit/Kiwi. The forks stays upside down in the left hand as long as I’m cutting, eating, cutting, eating. I switch hands only when I switch to a different food which doesn’t need cutting.

American knife / fork work is one of the most inefficent things we do in our efficiency-obsessed society.

I used to do this all of the time, especially with steak. Over the years I’ve learned to calm down and cut two or three pieces at a time.

Now if I can only find friends who don’t insist on eating one thing before moving on to the next. Steak>Starch>Vegetable.

Coming from an Asian culture it took me a long time to not do this. It was quite novel and odd at first to be served a whole chunk of uncut meat. I was accustomed to family-style bowls and platters of stir-fry and whole fish to be picked at a few pieces at a time. Knives were never present at the table, because 1)there was no need, and 2)it’s considered uncouth. Coming from that perspective, having to cut your own meat even now still seems a bit barbaric.

I do it that way, too (I’ve also heard it called the “European” way.)

Yes, but you don’t cut up the whole steak when it lands on the table. You do it a little at a time, just like the Brits do. Just different hands.

Miss Manner’s job is to tell you what the etiquette IS. Not to make it up as she goes along or to tell you “its ok if you don’t want to do it this way.”

Fortunately, she does not employ any former Stasi agents, so you are free to follow her instructions and appear well mannered, or not follow them and appear uncouth.

I agree. I love Miss Manners in general but I always wanted to give her a Texas Titty Twister for her longstanding refusal to acknowledge that the European way of not switching hands is better in every way and the American way is fundamentally flawed (I wonder what the United Way has to say on this). This may be the only time I have ever defended the Europe so strongly over America so she better listen. If I am not mistaken, I heard a rumor that Miss Manners has taken a lot of flack for this over the years and has semi-recanted and made both knife and fork uses acceptable. That sounds like a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” type compromise but I am not ashamed to admit I want a total ban on knife and fork hand-switching and do not care who thinks their rights are being violated by it. If we up the stakes (and steaks) high enough, this abominable practice can be eradicated in our lifetime or at least that of our children.