Don’t even think about it……

penholder_jan2013_1161 copyOn my recent visit to London I came across a reference book which featured a handy guide for those who don’t know how to hold a knife and fork, two implements that are fast becoming expendable at the table as the bun, wrap and finger continue their inexorable takeover bid. The skilled use of the pen is passing into history closely followed by the correct use of cutlery, save for the cutlery that is currently popular for crime which neatly transfers from kitchen to street. How you handle your knife and fork says as much about you as the condition of your shoes, or so I’ve been told, even though my shoes are often covered in mud and shit as I live in a region that in winter appears to consist solely of mud and shit. Holding cutlery in the manner of an offensive weapon makes more sense to me than the faux genteel way of the “penholder”. It’s akin to sticking out your pinkie when drinking a cup of tea. How did the penholder happen? Who coached their offspring to hold their knife is such an effete and fucking annoying way? My eyes are unerringly drawn to the hand that penholds. As you may have guessed, dear reader, I am happier at table with foul language, the regular use of the spittoon and possible ground kissing due to excess of falling down water than I am with the flagrant use of the penholder. Call me old fashioned, call me a cuttled bigot, but there it is. It’s out at last and, do you know, I feel better for it.

About Food,Photography & France

Photographer and film maker living in France. After a long career in London, my wife and I have settled in the Vendee, where we run residential digital photography courses with a strong gastronomic flavour.
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20 Responses to Don’t even think about it……

  1. Marmaduke Scarlet says:

    Hear, hear! I also get irritated by shovelling (unless it’s me of course), and people who cut their food up, then put their knife down, swap their fork their right hand and then start eating . . . wha? Is the knife too heavy for you? (End of rant!)

  2. Mad Dog says:

    Marmaduke Scarlet you said it all. I was recently teased by some German friends for not scooping my peas and shocked by a seemingly cultured American who did exactly what you described and cut up an entire piece of steak, so that all the food on her plate could be eaten with a right handed fork. The forking is by no means the eating style of all America and I wouldn’t be surprised to see something similar occurring in Britain. I was a little surprised though, that the normally refined Germans, had never heard of etiquette!

  3. cecilia says:

    I blame the mothers! But it is worse here.. much worse. they do not even put a knife on the table. You are expected to cut your meat with a FORK!!! So now that everyone knows how I feel they will throw a fork by the plate of everyone else but me. I get given a knife as well. .. oh i was once in a restaurant out here once and saw a young man across the way eating with a knife and fork. As we were leaving, i leaned down and said .. are you from NZ? he was astonished, how did you know, he were eating with a knife and fork, then i pointed to his feet, the jandals, his throat – the greenstone.. elementary dear watson.. he and I laughed and John said what did I tell you about talking to strangers. Then the boy laughed again. and off we went.. c

  4. Eha says:

    I am roaring with laughter!! For those to whom I am but a very odd name: Yes, I truly do know me manners! But, oh boy, am I out of this ‘debate’ having basically eaten with chopsticks for the last three or so decades of my life!! And, Roger, you did not put THAT choice down . . . 😉 !

    [PS – the US way: blimey, have never made sense of that except having an awful number of people stare at me at dinner as if I had come down in the last shower!!]!

    • I am a great believer in chopsticks. There is a very amusing French TV commercial that shows a Japanese family trying to eat with knives and forks. In the end they just hold them by the blade and the fork tines, using the blunt handle ends as chopsticks.

  5. I actually don’t like it when I see someone grasping their knife like they’re a child. It just looks odd to see an adult do it.

  6. Bravo, and now would you write a piece about men who come into restaurants and throw themselves into a chair and start reading the menu while leaving their female companion standing? And then one more on people who start eating before all the table has been served? And then, a special torpedo for those fucking American waiters who scoop out plates before the table has finished eating. I keep my fork in hand to stab at the wrist of busboys who grab the plate the instant the last mouthful has been lifted and say “Let me get this out of your way.” I hate that.

  7. Tandy says:

    I want to smack some tv chefs who eat ‘wrong’ as I assume people should know how to use a knife and fork properly! Clearly not if there’s a book on it 🙂

  8. What a fabulous find, Roger. I doubt many would care these days how cutlery is held. A set of standards from days gone by.
    I would love to have been a fly on the wall at one of your famous repasts.

  9. I’m with you on this too, although I do confess to shovelling my peas when not in company (please don’t tell anyone). Am left handed, so can’t even do the right handed fork thing. Funny thing in Spain though which bugs me, they often only put forks on the table for tapas type dining and everyone just “picks”, no knifes and lots of bread. Don’t mind it if I am with Big Man but hate the idea of sharing quite so intimately with others … eeek!

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