I don’t know why I care, but I think it’s embarrassing. I don’t know how to eat. I’m confused when I face my fried eggs and toast in the morning. Should I hold my toast in my left hand and my fork my right cutting the egg with the edge of my fork and pushing it up onto my fork with my toast as I would do at home in America?
It just seems rude.
Should I put my fork in my left hand and my knife in my right hand, like my Australian friends do? It seems proper. The old saying is, when in Rome do as the Romans do. So I proceed carefully, holding the fork upside down I secure a section of the fried egg and carefully cut it into a bite sized piece with my knife in my right hand. The knife then can push the slippery egg piece on the upside-down fork and politely bring it to my mouth.
Polite success is then guaranteed, but what about my toast?
I love my toast with a little bit of egg yolk on it. Once the egg is on the fork and in my mouth it completely misses my toast. So I waver between being polite or just jumping back to American crude.
But I did conquer the end movement which was totally new to me. I’d missed out of learning that when you’ve finished eating, the knife and fork are placed side by side in the 12 o’clock position with the fork on the inside, tines up, and the knife on the outside, blade in. My friends in Australia set me straight, and this I can do.
In reviewing the history of eating etiquette I discovered that prior to the early 19th century Europeans ate just as Americans do now, zig zaging their knife and fork. Around 1850 the upper class in Europe stopped shifing their forks back and forth and the Continental syle of eating became popular. The Australians caught on, but the American stayed back prior to 1850 in their eating habits.
Eating continental style post 1850: