American or Continental? Sounds as if I were to ask you what airline you prefer. Rather, I’m simply talking about dining styles. So, do you dine using the American style or the Continental style? In a Dining Etiquette course I partook in earlier today, I learned that it doesn’t matter which style you use, as long as you’re consistent with using it throughout the meal. Change between and it can be a mistake that may cost you a job, client, or simple loss of character.
It’s that serious people. Don’t wipe your entire face off with your napkin, just dab at the corners of your mouth. Always hold your wine glass by the stem, never by the goblet. Sit a palm’s width away from the table and never sit directly with your butt against the back of the chair. Posture is KEY. And when you eat soup, scoop away, scoop away, scoop away (Finding Nemo anyone?) from you, never towards you. Oh, and make sure that when you’re cutting your food, that the top of your utensils are covered in the palm of your hand, ensures proper control. Also really good for practice if you ever plan on becoming a surgeon. Oh, and no elbows on the table. FYI, no elbows on the table has been engrained into me since I was about five. It actually annoys me when I see people doing it. I’ve even corrected someone once or twice. I’m not OCD. Honest. At least not to the point of needing medical attention.
So, back to the original question: American or Continental?
The American style, to me, is dumb. Always thought so, even when my parents tried to teach me when I was a wee little one. When you have to cut something (NOTE: I’m right handed, so left handers need to do the exact opposite), hold the knife in your right hand and the fork in your left hand. This way you’re cutting with the dominate hand and things should generally cut easier. When you’re done cutting, place the knife on your plate, blade facing in (so if anyone gets hurt, it’s you), then switch the fork from your left hand back to your right. Proceed to eat. But you’re not done: make sure the prongs are facing upward when placing that piece of food you worked so hard for on your tongue. And for general intents and and purposes, PLEASE DO NOT scrape the fork with your teeth; that’s just annoying and I’m sure uncouth in some situations. Also, unoccupied hands remain in your lap. Maybe Americans just liked to fool around where no one could see…..
The Continental Style, is more my thing. However, truth be told, I utilize this style as if I were left handed. I also hold my playing cards as if I were left handed and I think a few other things, but they escape me at the moment. Everything else I do, is right, in more ways than one. Back to the style: You start out American with your fork in your left and your knife in your right, but you remain that way throughout the meal. There’s no need to put the knife down, you use it to push food onto your fork. However, when you bring the food up, the fork prongs face downward, unless you’re scooping up peas or something similar. Both hands remain above the table from the wrist up. Supposedly this reasoning behind this was so no one could reach for the weapon they were hiding under the table. Can we take a second and refer back to the bar scene in Inglourious Basterds?
I guess you could say that my style evolved from having a father born in Hungary and a mother born in America. Just like both cultures prefer their food, Hungarian being goulash and Irish being stews, I melded the too forms together into one. If I have to, I’ll just say that I’m a left handed eater, but right handed everything else. It’s the only way to be properly proper without being completely proper. Make sense? Doesn’t have to as long as I’m being consistent. American takes too much time and Continental is simply efficient. No brainer. But stay true to you and how you eat (as long as you’re not bringing back the medieval style).
So there really isn’t a moral to this. I learned things, I already knew things, and I probably won’t apply everything 100% to my dining. And my one question: If someone you either may potentially work for or do work for judges you solely on how precisely you hold your fork, do you really want to be working for them? I’m not putting dining etiquette down, because it is important to know the in’s and out’s, but that place of employment has the chance of not being the proper fit for you. I’m just being realistic.
So, the decision is yours, American or Continental.