Happy Thanksgiving. Your Manners Suck

by Marinka on November 26, 2009

Question: Let’s say you’re eating a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. You cut the turkey meat, holding the knife in your right hand, and the fork in the left. Like a normal person.

Do you then switch hands and hold the fork in your right hand, or keep holding it in your left hand, and eat like that?

Because this afternoon, I noticed that Husbandrinka switched the fork to his right manhand and I was like “why do you do that? Adults don’t switch hands!”
And he said, “In America, it’s considered rude not to switch.”

So we had a brief festive exchange of words where I said that just because it wasn’t done in his New Jersey family, doesn’t mean that it is rude and he said that he had a friend who was a super WASP and totally high class and they always switched hands too.

I asked him if he’d been appalled by my bad manners for the past fifteen years and he said, no, not really, because in addition to being high class, he has a big heart and knows that I hold my fork in the wrong hand because I am from behind the Iron Curtain and not because I am a bad person.

So, tell me. How do you hold your fork?
And what Thanksgiving wisdom has your family imparted to you?

Hope your holidays are peaceful and delicious!

One year ago ...

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{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

MJ November 26, 2009 at 3:34 pm

Actually I believe youre SUPPOSED to keep it in your left hand.. my husband took an Etiquette class in high school… like 20 years ago in Florida – it was required – and he says that according to etiquette the fork is Supposed to be held in the LEFT hand, with the tines curved DOWN… so NOT in the right handed shovel-like fashion most people do.

I typically go back and forth… if I’m using a knife I hold it in my left hand the way youre supposed to… otherwise, its shoveling food in my face like everyone elses ๐Ÿ™‚
.-= MJ´s last blog ..Those Sirens You Heard… Yeah, They Came Here. =-.


Marinka November 26, 2009 at 8:50 pm

So in one corner, we have Etiquette class in Florida! In another, New Jersey’s classiest!


Maravonda November 27, 2009 at 6:13 am

I first learned table manners in the mountains of Appalachia, moved to Europe as a very young adult, and had the joy of watching a table full of of people watch me finish my soup by drinking from the bowl. A kind soul pulled me aside and said “Stop that at once!” So I learned my table manners from careful observation while living there, and i keep knife in the right hand, fork in the left. It has earned me anything from compliments to put downs, but it feels nice and ladylike, and that’s enough for me.


Mwa November 26, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Fork in the left, knife in the right and no switching, but then I’m European. My American friend switches. Which offends me. But I’ve been told it’s completely normal for an American.
.-= Mwa´s last blog ..Picture post in which I am a holy man =-.


Marinka November 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm

It sounds like it totally is an American vs. European thing. I tell you, I don’t know how people get through State dinners.


witchypoo November 26, 2009 at 3:59 pm

I switch if I’m cutting meat.
.-= witchypoo´s last blog ..Oink =-.


Marinka November 26, 2009 at 8:51 pm

American, right?


Half Assed Kitchen November 26, 2009 at 4:16 pm

I’m so Klassy that I don’t even know what I do. I’ll let you know on the other side of Thanksgiving dinner.


Marinka November 26, 2009 at 8:52 pm

tap, tap. I’m waiting. (That was my foot tapping, by the way).


November 26, 2009 at 4:57 pm

That is normal for Americans, because we have to be different. I hate using knives so probably look even ruder w/o the obsessive switching.


Marinka November 26, 2009 at 8:53 pm

What’s with the knife hatred? They’re sharp! and pointy!


Pop and Ice
November 26, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Fork in the left, knife in the right and then THE SWITCH!
.-= Pop and Ice´s last blog ..Praying for a Holiday Miracle =-.


CoftheU November 26, 2009 at 5:20 pm

Leave it in your left hand. Really. How hard it is to get to get it into your mouth with your left hand? You don’t have to write your name with it or anything before you chow down. I think being discreet while you eat is the main point of manners. Changing hands and and juggling utensils is a bit of an attention grabber. But I’m just a plain Jane American who hasn’t gone to etiquette class.


November 26, 2009 at 5:33 pm

I’m sorry to tell you, but I think you’re supposed to switch. I don’t think anyone really cares though.
.-= Stimey´s last blog ..Happy Turkey Day! =-.


Marinka November 26, 2009 at 8:54 pm

So you’re saying that I wrote a totally meaningless post? Nice. On Thanksgiving, too. Super nice.


Jenn @ Juggling Life November 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

The switch is unquestionably the American way.

I have no wisdom today, but I did make a completely bone-headed comment about my limes turning into oranges which has already become family lore and is providing much laughter for everyone–and we haven’t even eaten yet.
.-= Jenn @ Juggling Life´s last blog ..You Can Take The Girl Away From The Ocean . . . =-.


Masala Chica
November 26, 2009 at 7:27 pm

well – when I am not tearing the meat apart with my bare hands, I switch forks hands. But that is ONLY because I heard about this phenomenon of hand switching during a college career/manners fair.

Which is challenging for someone who grew up using paper plates and plastic utensils at our fancy parties.

I still am not sure how to set the table quite right. its very embarrassing for my husband.
.-= Masala Chica´s last blog ..A Thank You Letter to my Son =-.


Heather November 26, 2009 at 7:49 pm

I tend to keep it in my left hand, but as I understood it, the switching thing was a mostly American practice.
I’d rather see the switching thing than see everyone with their elbows on the table. Or talking with their mouths full. Or chewing like a cow.


November 26, 2009 at 7:55 pm

One of the Housewives of Orange County took a class in manners and the lady said you always hold the fork in your left and the knife in your right and you do not switch.

I totally trust the Housewives of OC producers.
.-= Pauline´s last blog ..A Blogging Thanksgiving =-.


monica November 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

i thought i was alone in the switching hand things. i thought it was because everyone tried to “train” the left handedness out of me – causing me to do it everything with the same hand…
.-= monica´s last blog ..thanksgiving รขโ‚ฌโ€œ year 2 =-.


Beth November 26, 2009 at 8:11 pm

You use forks and knives? How classy.

My fingers work just fine.

And, yes, I was raised in a barn. Figuratively speaking.
.-= Beth´s last blog ..The post where I get to make fun of a friend =-.


November 26, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Only Americans switch hands. I’m half European and half American. If you switch hands in Paris, for example, people will stare at you.

Americans aren’t as sophisticated and a super WASP? The least sophisticated of them all. It just means they’re rich.
.-= Suzy´s last blog ..A Thanksgiving Mystery =-.


ssheers November 26, 2009 at 9:06 pm

My WASPy American mother switches hands.
I’m left handed, so I keep my fork in my left hand at all times. If I put my fork in my right hand, I would probably drop my food and stab somebody.


pinklea November 26, 2009 at 9:14 pm

I was always under the impression that it’s an American thing to switch hands. I’m Canadian, and I don’t think we switch – at least I don’t and neither do most of my friends and family. But then, why listen to me? We have a different Thanksgiving Day than you …
.-= pinklea´s last blog ..Call the help line รขโ‚ฌยฆ =-.


Masala Chica
November 26, 2009 at 9:39 pm

While I think we all know what the right “American” way is on this after seeing all the responses, I still think the switching hand things is silly. It’s just inefficient. I am always looking for shortcuts in my life. And yeah, it might make you eat slower, but if you are a “hearty” eater, a little hand switch ain’t gonna stop you. If you pour your wine with the right hand, are you only allowed to hold the wine glass in your left? No. because THAT would be silly.
.-= Masala Chica´s last blog ..A Thank You Letter to my Son =-.


JulieBouf November 26, 2009 at 9:47 pm

It actually IS American vs European. When I worked at a Big 4 Accounting Firm, we had an etiquette luncheon and were taught that both manners were acceptable -the only real rule is don’t switch between the two manners during the same meal. However, the actual American way would not be to then just switch hands – but to put the knife down on the corner of your plate when you are not in the process of cutting. (and then eat with the fork in whatever hand you are comfortable with). But for the love of God, make sure you break off your bread and feed yourself little bites are you will be considered loose and immoral!
.-= JulieBouf´s last blog ..From his granddaughter =-.


November 26, 2009 at 10:05 pm

I’m left handed, so my fork is always in my left hand. If I tried to switch, I’d probably poke my eye out.
.-= hokgardner´s last blog ..My Thanksgiving Post =-.


Jen November 26, 2009 at 10:52 pm

I lived in Germany for three years when I was a teenager. Those were apparently very formative years for me because now I never switch. I like to think it makes me appear very continental but probably people just think I’m lazy and rude.
.-= Jen´s last blog ..Nice customer service T-Mobile =-.


Scary Mommy
November 26, 2009 at 11:17 pm

My son ate his entire dinner by putting his mouth to the plate like he was bobbing for apples. So, any sort of utensil seems civilized to me.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friend.
.-= Scary Mommy´s last blog ..Dogs, Fishing & Mom =-.


anymommy November 26, 2009 at 11:56 pm

I switch hands. Cut and eat with my right. Unless I’m nursing the baby and then I uncoordinatedly shove uncut food into my mouth with my left hand. There you go. Hope TG was wonderful
.-= anymommy´s last blog ..To Life =-.


Bella November 27, 2009 at 12:37 am

My “very-proper-daughter-of-the-mayor” grandmother (who would be 114 years old if she didn’t die at age 99.5) was appalled that my father held his fork in his left hand and ate with the fork turned over. My mother told him this was how they ate in Europe (Continental). Grandma never mentioned it again.

Forcing lefties to eat American Style is hand-ist!


christine November 27, 2009 at 3:11 am

Being left handed, I know for certain that everyone I’ve ever eaten with eats with their dominant hand. Rightys eat with the right, leftys (me) with the left. I know this because they’re always putting me on the left end of the table so we don’t clash elbows.

I never noticed if the rightys switch hands when they need to use a knife. I know I don’t. Now I’m starting to wonder if everyone I know is a hillbilly.
.-= christine´s last blog ..new flames =-.


Kathy November 27, 2009 at 3:50 am

I’m left handed and have my fork in that hand cause that’s how I eat. Funny though Europe vs American I never really thought about it but the first time invited to someone’s house for dinner here in Germany. The man commented on my fork holding how it was European and he was shocked I ate that way! I was shocked like uh? There’s a difference?


Sophie November 27, 2009 at 7:44 am

Dude, what kind of a jewish girl are you? Everybody (who’s jewish) knows that chicken is supposed to be eaten with your hands. And yes, turkey is chicken. It’s a hugeass chicken, developed by jewish grandmas, so they can feed babies with soup with ONE CHICKEN LEG. So that nobody will tell them they’re over-stuffing the babies. You know – “but it’s ONLY one chicken leg!”.

I’ve got to lie down now.


November 27, 2009 at 8:11 am

Wow. Such a debate of using utencils.


lilith November 27, 2009 at 8:25 am

As a European girl I always thought switching your fork while eating is only done by uneducated, manner-less Americans but that the educated ones with manners know better. And now you tell me it is supposed to be a “classy” thing to do?
I’m dumbfounded.


November 27, 2009 at 12:48 pm

re: “it’s considered rude” – i’m not sure, but i think there was a time in american history when classy white people owned darker-skinned people. and if you were at a meal and it bothered you that your hosts actually owned other human beings (and i’m ignoring for the moment that men literally owned their wives at this point in history), i’m pretty sure it was considered rude to say something like, “uh, i find the institution of slavery morally reprehensible.” but you might wanna fact-check that w/husbandrinka.


Maureen@IslandRoar November 27, 2009 at 1:05 pm

Yeah, it’s a European vs. US thing. We like to be different. My grandma was so into table manners. No brushing or touching your hair at the table. No singing. Don’t really get the singing part; I kinda like to break into a rousing medley of Broadway showtunes…
.-= Maureen@IslandRoar´s last blog ..A Little Sugar… =-.


traci November 27, 2009 at 1:09 pm

The Junior League of NJ will throw you out if you out if you switch. They prefer you allow A)let the help to spoon feed you or B)you politely decline to eat- which is what is truly expected.

However, should you serve your soup toward you rather than away they silence you and take away your secret society allowances.

“Like a ship out to sea, I scoop my soup away from me.”
.-= traci´s last blog ..It Started Like This!" =-.


Amber November 27, 2009 at 1:31 pm

According to My families tradition- large slabs of meat are grasped between thumb and forfinger and gnawed..

o dear we are a family of HEATHENS!


Loukia November 27, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Haha… I don’t usually switch my fork back to my right hand, but I don’t do it to be ‘polite’ – I do it because it takes less time for the food to get to my mouth! So yeah, I keep the fork in my left hand, usually.


Marmite Breath November 27, 2009 at 3:10 pm

When I take my husband to England to see my family, I like to make sure that nobody looks at him while he’s eating. It’s so humiliating. My Grandma, (RIP) used to delight in pointing at him and saying, “Ooh, isn’t that strange using your knife and fork like that!?” which I found rude but you can’t say anything to an old lady like that.


Ribbon November 27, 2009 at 6:32 pm

No switching ๐Ÿ™‚ fork in left, knife in right!
I live in Australia ๐Ÿ™‚

great post
best wishes


The Penny-Pinching Mama November 27, 2009 at 10:28 pm

I bet everyone at the dinner table was praying you’d cut your meet, stab him with the knife and continue eating with your LEFT hand. LOL!

He sounds like a jerk. I think you have it right, but I do switch and eat with my right. It’s comfortable for me. Who cares how you eat? In the grand scheme of things…is it really important? Just seems to be a topic for snobs.


elenka November 28, 2009 at 2:45 am

Gadzooks, I never knew any of this! I cut and switch, but knife gets put down. Cut enough of the meal so I can eat quite a while with my dominant right hand. I have noticed that on cooking competitions on tv, the judges eat with the fork in the left, turned downward. I’ve been thinking for about two years now how crude that always looks to me.
How the heck do you eat loose things, like peas, rice, etc. with the fork turned upside down??????????? That must be wrong!
To think that if I ever went to Europe and actually ate a meal, that I would be judged uncouth! I’m sticking to staying home.
.-= elenka´s last blog ..Happy Thanksgiving to everyone……… =-.


November 28, 2009 at 12:56 pm

HAHA, I’ve always thought it looked a little dainty. Funny that you see the opposite. I’m just a tad retardified with my left hand, so I have to switch (or I’ll look like a caveman trying to shovel food in with my left).
.-= Amber´s last blog ..Lazy =-.


Jennifer H November 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

Fork stays in my left hand. Let’s go to lunch sometime, and we’ll show all of ’em!
.-= Jennifer H´s last blog ..Just As Well รขโ‚ฌโ€œ a new song =-.


November 28, 2009 at 12:53 pm

I do the switch, but I learned (or is it learnt? lol) to eat in Red Neck land, so that’s my excuse. Actually, I tend to cut up ALLLLLL of my meat first, and just eat the peices from a fork in my right hand. I think that’s considered even worse than the dreaded switch ๐Ÿ˜›


Andrea's Sweet Life
November 28, 2009 at 4:32 pm

I lived in Europe for several years, and picked up on the *better manners* of NOT switching hands. The rumor is, Americans created the bad habit of switching when they first colonized here in the states. It seems there weren’t enough knives to go around. So, people would cut, then pass the knife to the next person, and switch fork hands to eat with their dominant hand.

Me? I keep the fork in the left, knife in the right. Hubs? Switches.
.-= Andrea’s Sweet Life´s last blog ..On Your Sixth Birthday =-.


Carolyn Online
November 28, 2009 at 8:16 pm

We always switch hands because as my mother said, “We are not from the continent.” Which I’m pretty sure means Europe. So I think you’re just fancier than the rest of us. And my brother-in-law cut his turkey with his dirty pocket knife at my table. Rude.
.-= Carolyn Online´s last blog ..Carolyn and Darcy prep for the feast. =-.


Maddnessofme November 29, 2009 at 7:33 am

Fork? What fork? I like to eat with my fingers. But I angle my pinky up to make everyone feel better.

Just kidding. I don’t even know. I eat too fast to even pay attention. I do know that if somebody told me to hold my fork a different way, I would probably knife them.


Sophie, Inzaburbs November 29, 2009 at 9:03 am

I had to go get a knife and fork to work this one out. Because I was brought up the European way, but now I live in America The Land of the Free, I do whatever I damn well want which happens to be whatever is easiest (although, admittedly, only within the confines of my own home ).
We were always taught that uncouth Americans shovel with their fork because cowboys only ever got baked beans to eat. Confusing, because we always ate baked beans (cough cough, childrens food, cough) daintily with knife and fork … but then there are a lot of strange myths floating around about Americans ๐Ÿ™‚


Karin Katherine December 2, 2009 at 6:34 am

NO SWITCHING. That is so tacky.
But can I say after being subjected to hubby’s switching and others I now switch, much to my own personal shame and horror.

I was raised by Jamaican, Brazilian and Chinese parents.
.-= Karin Katherine´s last blog ..Traditions =-.


Freddie December 7, 2009 at 4:57 pm

This is the biggest waste of internet space of a conversation I have ever heard. It’s intriguing that people will actually spend time conversing about stuff like this…What difference, in all reality does it make how one holds their fork and knife? If the knife cuts through the meat and the fork gets it to your mouth than your utensils have served there purpose wether you hold it in your left hand, nose or by the toes of your feet…Which would make for a far more interesting topic.


Marinka December 7, 2009 at 7:41 pm

I’m afraid that you missed the Big Picture here, Freddy. Because the internet, as crowded as it may be–and as tight for space– certainly can accommodate this discussion.

Because cutting our food with a knife and using a fork to eat it with is what separates us from animals. And doing it by holding it in the right hand (by which I mean the CORRECT hand, not the “right” hand, haha!) is what makes this country great.

If it really doesn’t matter, as you suggest, and all is good as long as the food makes it down our gullet, then why don’t we just shred the Constitution and call it a day?

I, for one, am a big fan of the Constitution.
And that’s why I won’t stop blogging about the table manners that have made this country great.
For those who say Viva la difference! I say, “France is that-a-way. This is America.”


Freddie December 7, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Yes, because if we didn’t have a “correct” way of eating meat (the meat someone else brutally murdered for you, which is completely not animalistic of us civilized humans) than all hell will break loose…like wars. Yes, indeed table manners is what has made this country so amazing….By the way, do you realize France invented haute cuisine and its very probable that they came up with all these table matters in the first place?…Blog away mummies…


Kiran (Masala Chica)
December 7, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Dear Freddie,

Thank you for totally killing the buzz of a bunch of people who were good naturedly commenting after Thanksgiving on something that we were just having a good natured laught at. Sometimes, I feel ok about myself, but then people like you come along and make sure to put me in my place.

Please continue to patrol the big wide internet and keep it a safe place. We don’t want to sully valuable real estate with talk of forks and knives when we should be making space for things like porn and people who like to belittle others.

But one question I do have . . .

if i was to flip someone the bird, should I do it with my left hand or right hand?

Just checking!


Freddie December 7, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Lol…I like your style. Flip the bird with the opposite hand you would have your fork in, naturally ๐Ÿ™‚


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