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Just tell me who invited the Queen to dinner?!?

queen of England
One night, while still living in the states, I was setting the table for dinner.
Now, keep in mind that before I met and married my wonderful French husband, I never worried about which side of the plate the knife or fork went on. Furthermore, I rarely used a knife.

What??? A knife??? It’s pizza for heavens sake!
Steak??? Oh, I just maul it to death (just in case it isn’t really dead) with my fork until my arm breaks off or the fork breaks or the meat surrenders!

It is easy to see how this would drive my Frenchman crazy!

My husband: “What? Everyone with any culture what-so-ever uses a knife!”
Me. “Really? So, are Asians uncultured?” (I just love to twist things around)

So, seeing as we are not Asian, my French husband had to teach his poor uncultured Americans, Angel Girl and I, the proper way to use a knife and fork. He, also, being so generous in his lessons of culture, taught us not only how to use the knife and fork but how to place them at the table, with the knife on the right and the fork on the left of the plate.

As I was setting the table that night, I forgot which side of the plate the knife went on and which side the fork went on or more truthfully, I just really didn’t care. But, heh, I put the knife on the table. He should of been happy, right?

So, when my husband blew up at me for putting the knife and fork on the opposite sides that he had taught me (apparently so many times that even a village idiot would get it), I got a bit upset.

My oh so very civilized response, “Well, if you had told me that the Queen of England was coming to dinner I most certainly would have been more careful!”
Let’s just say that did not go over very well with the French husband.

So, for all of you uncultured Americans out there or anyone else who was not taught how to eat properly by your parents or school (as was the case of my husband) visit this website and catch up on dinner etiquette.

For a good laugh at how some people, besides my husband, can go way too far with the knife and fork thing, click here.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Louis la Vache February 12, 2006, 11:21 pm

    I went to the link you suggested – I was not in the least surprised. In France I have been chastised for cutting my salad. I have yet to figure out how to properly (according to les français) twine the salad around my fork without cutting it. You should see the icy stares I get if I cut my salad! Sacre Bleu!

  • Pumpkin Pie February 13, 2006, 1:31 pm

    Oh, no! Now, no cutting. I didn’t know about that one.

  • Phil Hoover-Chicago February 13, 2006, 8:55 pm

    Well Martha Stewart would be very proud of you.

    And yes, all those FRENCHIES can eat how ever they want, I suppose.

    Do hurry back to the USA. We miss you here in civilization.

  • Pumpkin Pie February 13, 2006, 11:07 pm

    I wouldn’t mind visiting but France is my home now. Besides, how else will the French learn to losen up if I am not here to show them??? :)

  • JennC February 15, 2006, 9:41 am

    My trick to remembering which side of the plate the fork goes on is that it is opposite to the hand that uses it (in my case as I’m right-handed). This makes absolutely no sense to me so it’s a good memory tickler.

  • Pumpkin Pie February 15, 2006, 4:05 pm

    That is a great idea JennC. I wish I would have thought of it in the beginning! My husband would have been happy. :)

  • peepfrench February 15, 2006, 4:13 pm

    Very funny post, Pumpkin…Would you believe me if I told you that my frenchy and our children eat sugar donuts with a fork and knife???? What a hopeless bunch!

  • Pumpkin Pie February 15, 2006, 4:14 pm

    Peep-that is too funny! My husband used to eat pizza with a knife and fork and now he always starts out the meal that way and then gives up because in the case of pizza it is just more practical to eat with your hands.
    Sam- My husband wouldn’t know either. He just tells me not to bring anything! He drives me crazy.

  • christina February 15, 2006, 4:15 pm

    Germans don’t seem to be at all concerned about table settings and my husband can NEVER remember which side the knife or the fork go on. No royal invitation for him.

    Do the French use a different method of getting food to the mouth than Americans? By that I mean do they hold their fork in the other hand or cut their food differently? I believe there’s a European method and a North American method.

    Also, I was taught to keep the unused hand (ie the one not holding the fork when only the fork is being used) under the table whereas in Germany it’s customary to keep both hands above the table. I’ve heard it was the same in France and that it was considered very rude to be caught with your hand under the table.

  • Samantha February 15, 2006, 4:17 pm

    The whole “no hands under the table” rule goes back to the times of Kings and Queens, and it was put in place to prevent any hankypanky going on under there!! Don’t know if it’s still in effect these days though, as Fab’s manner’s are not that French – his mom died when he was young and his dad is a farmer, so he missed out on a lot of those “politesse” kind of rules. Which doesn’t help me much, because he can never answer my questions regarding what to bring to someone’s house when you’re invited for dinner, for birthday parties, etc!!

  • Julie February 15, 2006, 4:20 pm

    Wow, all this etiquette. LOL My family is really big on it too. Kind of crazy because my Dad get’s upset with me if I don’t cut something right! There’s even a certain way to cut. Weird. Its easier to just eat when no one’s around. LOL

  • wendy February 15, 2006, 4:26 pm

    It’s a French thing, this obsession with correct manners at the table. Mine extend to eating with your mouth shut, elbows off the table…but that’s about it, really. I don’t care if they prefer not to use a knife…I seldom use one either (althoug I do use one for steak, must admit!). My Ex is obsessive with the boys at the table and in my opinion, makes mealtimes unpleasant for everyone with his nagging and scolding. Thank heaven I don’t have to put up with it anymore.

    I DO know how to set a table though….worked in too many restaurants to plead ignorance on that…:-)

  • RaleighRob February 15, 2006, 4:33 pm

    We were always brought up with knives…here in the south they throw more meat at you than you know what to do with.
    But I do remember when I was about 10 or so going to a restaurant and there being two forks there…one larger, one smaller. I assumed one was for adults, the other for kids.
    It was about half a dozen years before anyone bothered to tell me otherwise. :-P

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