Question about dinner table etiquette.

After you’ve finished your meal, is it considered rude to use your fork to collect the last little bite of food? After I finished eating I scrape up the last bit of sauce that’s left on the plate. A friend of mine acts as though I lift the plate up a lick it in the restaurant.

This friend got married this weekend. I did the same thing at dinner and a mutual friend grabbed my arm to stop me. Apparently, the first friend told her to make sure I didn’t scrape my plate. I felt humiliated.

I have never heard of this rule in my entire life. I’m not shoving food into my face, I’m not chewing with my open. Would you think less of someone you saw doing that?

Your friends are the rude ones. Chastising you in public on someone else’s orders?? You need new friends.

So long as you aren’t making horrendous screeching noises there is nothing wrong with getting the last bits off your plate with your utensils. Using a fork in one hand and a bab of bread in the other is perfectly acceptable too.

I can’t think of anyone I’ve ever met who would give a shit about this. If you don’t want to get new friends, and you don’t want to confront them about this, I guess you’d better start leaving the last bite on your plate.

I’ve never heard of or thought of it being rude.

Of course, dinner table etiquette can vary quite a bit by country or culture, so this doesn’t rule out you and/or your friend belonging to a culture in which it’s considered rude.

More likely, I’d guess, is that this is just a personal pet peeve of your friend. Most of us have little things that irrationally annoy us when we see others doing them, even though there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. It might have been nice of you to defer to your friend’s wishes in the case of a special occasion, like that friend’s wedding.

If you came to my house and I cooked you a meal, I would be absolutely delighted if you scraped up every last atom of what was on your plate.

If you’re at all concerned though, next time mop up the sauce using a piece of bread on the end of your fork. If this draws comment, tell them “well, this is how it’s generally done in Paris”.

Lastly, no behaviour at the dinner table, no matter how frowned upon, is as rude as pointing it out.

According to proper, traditional etiquette you should never use your fork as a scoop, if that’s what you’re doing. Forks are only ever supposed to be used for piercing food and bringing it up to your mouth with tines down. (Or at worst, mashing food against the back of the tines and bringing it up to your mouth, still tines down) Scooping with a fork is strictly forbidden.

I know of know special rules dealing with the requirement to leave a little food on your plate, though. Maybe chasing and scraping around with you fork for that last bite or two just makes the scooping all that more apparent, and that’s what they’re upset about?

BTW I’m a heathen american who scoops all the time with his fork, even at a fancy restaurant. Even I have my limits for what I will accept as acceptable.

I believe in some cultures it would be considered rude at a dinner at someone’s house. I’ve heard of this before, though I don’t remember off the top of my head where it applies. If you eat up every morsel of food on the plate, that’s implying that they didn’t feed you enough and would be insulting. So to be polite, you are supposed to leave a little bit of food on your plate, no matter how delicious it is and how much you want to eat it all up, because that shows that your host is generous and gave you more than enough food.

So it might be rude at a dinner party or at a wedding depending on the culture. I wouldn’t think it would ever be rude at a restaurant.

Both your friends are definitely rude in publically embarrassing you about this. But does your friend harass other people about this too? If your friend corrects a lot of people about this faux pas, then I’d say it’s a cultural thing (along with not realizing it’s rude to correct someone’s dinner table etiquette like that). If they are just singling out you, I’d wonder if you are scraping the plate more than you realize. Either way, I might avoid eating around this person, because even if you fix this one “flaw” I’m sure that there are other ones in your eating habits they could find and point out and embarrass you over.

Grabbing someone’s arm to control their behavior is the height of rudeness, unless it’s a mother controlling her two-year-old. Nothing you could do could possibly deserve that treatment. And besides, there is nothing wrong with using a utensil to clean your plate, as long as you are not licking off your knife.

Tines up, if dining American style.

Also, experts say it’s fine to scoop–required, in fact, for some foods.

Nothing is as rude as your friends making a case out of it, that’s for sure.

For the actual behavior, well … I don’t know, I haven’t seen you do it. Like many other aspects of etiquette, it’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it.

I know people who are excellent plate-cleaners and manage to accomplish it without calling any attention to their cutlery activities (bread, previously mentioned, is often key). On the other hand, I have seen people scraping plates and chasing morsels in a way that looks like they are frantic for more food, to the extent that it’s disruptive to the other people chatting at the table. Additionally, in some cultures, this is viewed as an implication that the host didn’t provide an adequate portion.

Your friends can go jump in a lake. If you are really concerned about the behavior, think about people you know who are known for their excellent professional manners, and copy what they do.

I’ve dined in the presence of Prince Philip - a black tie do - and those around me used the fork as a scoop.

The friend with the problem is Greek American. She corrected me once before and it pissed me off then. I think the second person stopped me only because the other person told her to. The second friend is nice, but a little blunt and socially awkward. I blame the first person entirely. The second friend was apologetic for the rest of the night and even the next day.

What pissed me off the most is that she thought my behavior is offensive enough that she told someone else to watch me. In all the preparation of getting ready to be married, she was worried about that.

I always clean my plate and nobody has ever said anything to me.
I’m amazed at how many people leave food on their plate and then don’t even ask for a doggie bag.
I think some of my friends do get a little embarrassed when I ask for the doggie bag but there is no way I can eat an entire meal out and dammit I paid for it and I want to eat it later.

However, I grew up with not ‘the starving children in Africa/China/where ever’ speech but the ‘I worked so hard preparing all this good food and it would be a shame to waste it’ speech. It’s still in my head that you don’t waste food so I have a hard time not cleaning my plate.

That said, I’d think nothing of you clearing your plate unless you were making loud scraping noises and even then I’d feel a sympathetic connection with you that you probably heard the same crap I did when you were growing up.

As others have said, no matter haw bad the manners are it is always worse to call attention to them or to correct another adult in public. Manners are supposed to be about making other people comfortable in social situations.

In general, it’s my impression that “proper” etiquette at the dinner table is to draw as little attention to the fact that you’re eating at all. While this rule doesn’t tell you which fork to use when, it does seem to hold me in good stead for questions like this. Scraping up sauce or little bits of food from the plate not only indicates an effort to get the last bits of food, it probably differs from the people around you, and therefore you’re attracting attention in two ways. If the fork is making noise on the plate, you just added a third method of attracting attention.

On the other hand, I don’t personally think it’s improper. It’s just the kind of thing that I can see formal people fussing about.

(As a side note: all this etiquette is one reason I like to serve BBQ ribs or whole crab to dinner guests. You cannot eat them with a fork and knife and you’re guaranteed to mess up your hands and face. By making it impossible to sit around daintily picking at food, I feel like people actually enjoy themselves. Even if the Queen was coming over, I’ll fully expect her to roll up her sleeves and dig in.)

Done properly, BBQ ribs are easy to eat with knife and fork. The meat just comes away from the bone.

Anyway, you’ve reminded me I should get some when I go shopping tomorrow :slight_smile:

Scraping your plate clean with anything – fork, spoon, and bread included – is not technically “correct,” but it does not even come close to approaching the level of extreme rudeness of correcting other people’s table manners. The friend was horrendously out of line in correcting and worse yet, instructing others to correct! I wouldn’t give the arm-grabber a pass, either. There is no Etiquette Police draft, so these orders could have been declined.

Funny you should say that because my brother actually does this. We don’t eat out together very often.

scraping your own plate beats the heck out of my mother in law who used to scrape the garbage off other people plates onto her own and eat it. UGH.

It wouldn’t bother me, the situation mentioned in the OP, as the OP described it.

What does bother me, for some reason, is when people use their fingers to put food on their fork, and then use the fork to eat it. I don’t know why that bothers me, but people around here do it a lot. Though I usually don’t comment on it. (Sorry if this is a slight hijack.)

I think what your friend did is rude and trumps anything you might have done.

Generally, when eating out, you don’t try to eat every morsel of food. I think this is even more true when you are out with casual friends or at an event like a wedding where there are lots of people and where the food is not supposed to be the main event.

If you are with very close friends and at a casual place, the rule about not getting every scrap becomes relaxed. I’m not saying you did anything wrong, however, as I didn’t see it.

I was raised by stereotypical Jews. Food is love. If you don’t eat it all, you don’t love the cook or server.

As for getting the last bit of food, I’d like to quote the unjustly maligned Miss Manners (note- not an exact quote. But I know I got the gist right) ‘The purpose of etiquette is not to know which fork to use for fish. It is to make people be considerate and feel comfortable. If a guest picks up the finger bowl and drinks it, the host should as well.’

You, arguably, made an error. By grabbing you arm, your friend made a considerably worse one.