Recently, I attended a conference at one of the hotels where the delegates were offered lunch. It was a buffet, so we served ourselves and went back to our seats to enjoy our meals.
I sat at a table of seven. As we dug into our food, I realized that some of the people who sat at the table were not accustomed to the utensils that they were supposed to use.
One of them actually spilled food onto the table as he struggled to use the fork and knife to cut a piece of meat.
It was then that I realized that it is important for many of us to actually learn and practice how to use the fork and knife properly. To avoid embarrassment at the most inopportune time.
As we were having our lunch, I realized that a fairly basic and yet important element of dining etiquette is the proper use of the knife and fork. Some of us take this knowledge for granted. Knowing how to properly hold a dining fork and knife is not only polite but crucial to keep the respect of one’s elders, peers and co-workers.
There are all kinds of opportunities to impress, such as during dates, going out for lunch with the boss, and when attending conferences. In all these occasions, the proper use of a fork and knife is requisite.
There are two styles of eating: American and Continental. The continental way is the more practical, with the knife to the right and the fork to the left.
Hold the knife and fork in a non-threatening manner. Pick up the fork with your left and knife with the right. If you are left handed, it is the reverse.
Gently hold utensils between the middle and index fingers of each hand. Use your fore fingers to balance the fork and knife and keep them parallel to the table. Gently pierce the item to be cut with the fork making sure that the tines are facing downwards.
Firmly place your left index finger on top of the fork to prevent slipping. Use the knife to cut the food in a saw like back and forth fashion. Cut no more than two bite sized pieces at a time.
If you are using the American zigzag style, put the knife down quietly across the dinner plate, transfer the fork from the left to the right and then take the loaded fork into your mouth. However this method is considered proper etiquette only in the United States of America.
When you finish eating put your used fork and knife on a flat piece of dinnerware that will be on the table such as a large plate. Some foods like mashed potatoes or rice will slide off your fork if the tines are down. Hold those foods on your fork with the tines facing up but still grasping between thumb and forefinger.