Friday, February 20, 2015

Table Manners: American Method?


How did the American method begin? 

Since North America was settled by Europeans, please tell me where the American custom of using the knife and fork originated if all of Europe uses the European method. 

Thank you, 

Reply by The Polite One

Dear Forked, 

What a great question!  It is one of my favorites.  In fact, it is something I always include in my Table Manners classes. 

There is no way to really know the exact reason, but there are two different theories. First, it is known that we had spoons and knives and would have wanted forks, which were becoming popular in Europe, but the cost of the fork (it was expensive) and shipping made it prohibitively costly for the average person.  So we, supposedly, used the knife, cutting with our right hand, holding on to the food item with our spoon in our left hand.  But, it was difficult to stab or scoop meat and many other food items with our spoons, so we switched hands to take the bite. 

Now for the more exciting theory.  During the revolutionary period, many people would meet in pubs or eating establishments to plan.  If a person used the crisscross (American) method to eat, that person was safe to approach.   

Both theories sound plausible.   


The Polite One