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Fork tines down, point with thumb...what other cultural differences do I need to know?

Fork tines down, point with thumb...what other cultural differences do I need to know?

Feb 13th, 2007, 10:32 AM
  #41  
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 4,725
"The Fact is that the French don't smile as often or readily as Americans, this does not mean that they are unfriendly, this is a cultural difference. If you smile and it's not for a specific reason you don't look serious.

In France, even if you are not the president, it is important to appear serious. Some instances in which one can smile without appearing to be an idiot are: responding to a joke or humorous situation; responding to a joyous event, i.e. France winning the World Cup; and flirting."

"A French person will not smile at you unless they find you humorous or are flirting with you. Similarly, if you smile for no apparent reason, you may be perceived as insincere, naive, patronizing, or foolish."
http://tinyurl.com/38y6sq
A little googling will reveal many references to this cultural difference.

robjame is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:33 AM
  #42  
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 19,000
Becket: It's a "fork" - keeps from having to wash the fingers.

Henry: Yes, but then you have to clean the fork. I don't see the point.
Robespierre is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:47 AM
  #43  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
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"I am not trying to "not look like a tourist" BUT..when in Rome ...one should make an effort to be Roman!(or French in this case) What else do I need to know???


Don't ask people how much they make. The French have a strange relationship with money.

If invited into a French home, don't bring chrysanthemums, they are the flowers you'll see in cemetaries on October 31-Nov.1.

If you feel like commenting on their very strange habits - as you should - don't do it loudly in English, lots of them understand the language.

Don't try to be on a first name basis with people, this is simply not done. There is no reason you should call the waiter "Pierre" or "Jacques" when he is not a position to call you John or Tracy.

Note : when adressing people, never use their surname. Just say Monsieur ou Madame, never Monsieur Smith.

On the other hand, when referring to people, it's quite OK to say "Madame X, the owner of this shop/hotel).

French tend to be rather formal outside family/friend circles.
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 10:49 AM
  #44  
 
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The business about not smiling is all very important if you are attempting to pass yourself off as a French person. If you're an American, this is a pointless and impossible enterprise. You know, they know. It's good know about cultural differences but insane to suppose that, so knowing, you have somehow become one of them. Be a tourist; it's OK. That's what you are, and that's what you're expected to be.

The French are every bit as aware of the cultural proclivities of Americans as we are of theirs, much more so, in fact. A smiling American will not be taken for an unserious or ridiculous Frenchman. A whiny bitch of an American will be taken as a pain in the behind, though, and treated more poorly for it.

I don't understand why the idea that you should be pleasant to people in a foreign country is controversial.
fnarf999 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:04 AM
  #45  
 
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Please don't eat with your fork up-side down. The tines are curved upwards for a reason. Would you try to eat soup with an up-side down spoon?

Also, if you didn't grow up eating that way, chances are you will have difficulty balancing your food on the up-side down tines. I've seen tourists - and pretentious people on the Food Network - trying to eat that way, but they don't have the natural balance, so their hands shake and they make choppy movements, trying to keep the food from falling off. Or, they press their knives against the fork for as long as they can (raising the knife/fork combination to their mouths) before finally shoving the food in before it can fall off.

It looks fairly ridiculous.
bennyb is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 11:39 AM
  #46  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
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"The tines are curved upwards for a reason"

Other way round, they are turned downwards for a reason, pronging....

That said, I have never worked my way around the pea dichotomy. They are neither squashable or prongable, and not very balanceable......
waring is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:15 PM
  #47  
 
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I eat my peas with honey
I've done it all my life,
It tastes kind of funny
But it keeps them on the knife.
robjame is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:18 PM
  #48  
ira
 
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Hi B,

>Please don't eat with your fork up-side down. The tines are curved upwards for a reason. <

Mind giving us the reason?

As far as I can tell, about half the folks who use forks have the tines up and the other 1/2 have the tines down.

ira is online now  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:30 PM
  #49  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 2,184
The spoon theory is a perfect explanation:

You are served with your meat and two veg (fnark), and an American, eating as if with a spoon, will hold the food secure with the spoon/fork, and cut it into pieces with the knife. The cutting process over, the utensil switches hands to scoop up the cut stuff. Try eating left handed with a spoon or a "right way up fork", and you will find it is far easier to drop the knife and switch.

A Yoorpeen has no need to switch hands or drop the knife, as the fork in the left hand, held 'upside down' can comfortably hold, prong, and lift to the mouth, with the exception of peas.

I have a not so cultivated friend, who is so exasperated by the pea dichotomy, and so well indoctrinated that he can't bear to turn the fork over, eats them off his knife.
waring is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:31 PM
  #50  
 
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The spoon theory is a perfect explanation:

You are served with your meat and two veg (fnark), and an American, eating as if with a spoon, will hold the food secure with the spoon/fork, and cut it into pieces with the knife. The cutting process over, the utensil switches hands to scoop up the cut stuff. Try eating left handed with a spoon or a "right way up fork", and you will find it is far easier to drop the knife and switch.

A Yoorpeen has no need to switch hands or drop the knife, as the fork in the left hand, held 'upside down' can comfortably hold, prong, and lift to the mouth, with the exception of peas.

waring is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:36 PM
  #51  
 
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Why would anyone try to balance food on upside down tines when they could simply spear it with them instead?
Dukey is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 12:41 PM
  #52  
ira
 
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>Try eating left handed with a spoon or a "right way up fork", and you will find it is far easier to drop the knife and switch.<

Pish tosh. Nonsense. Bosh.

The more important problem is that a goodly fraction of Americans under 30 weren't taught how to properly use a knife and fork, or how to properly write with a pen or pencil.

Which is why they are always on their cell phones while standing at the sink eating takeout chicken.


Not to mention drinking beer from the bottle or can in public.
ira is online now  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:05 PM
  #53  
 
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Lamer

Most interesting site, but a bit stultified especially re invitations for dinner.
How does one "contribute" to your page?
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:07 PM
  #54  
 
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"Why would anyone try to balance food on upside down tines when they could simply spear it with them instead?"

With squishy food, mash etc, it simply sticks with the fork any side up.

Getting back to peas, far too time consuming to spear, and Granny would throw a blue fit if the fork was inversed. I have found not eating them at all in polite company is the optimum solution.

Rice is a bugger as well, the technique here is to secure a piece of something solid to the end of the tines, such as a piece of meat, and balance the rice against the meat and the tines. Works a treat!

I agree 100% with Ira, while maintaining it is easier to cut and switch, sophistication always implies a degree of extra effort.

It's far easier to eat with your fingers than with a knife and fork, and "Yo Wassup?" is far simpler than "Hello, how are you?"

As Audere will surely tell you "manners maketh man"
waring is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:33 PM
  #55  
 
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My apologies to any Europeans - my comment was related to Americans who are not practiced at eating with tines facing downward, resulting in awkward eating motions.

Europeans, who were raised eating with tines down, can manage much more smoothly, so it does not appear as comical. I would think people raised on chopsticks would likewise be more adept at it than someone who picked it up later in life.

I don't mean that Americans who cannot eat with tines downward do not have manners - on the contrary, in the old days we were taught that proper American manners require a person to cut no more than two pices of meat at a time, then place the knife down and eat those pieces before cutting two more.

So if you were NOT raised to keep your knife in one hand at all times while eating with the other hand, then kudos - you were raised correctly according to etiquette, which sadly is dying out.

My only real point was, if you are not used to eating with tines down, it will appear awkward.
bennyb is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:34 PM
  #56  
 
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I don't believe this! Do you mean there are actually people that drop the knive in their right hand after cutting meat, then put the fork in their right hand and use it to eat? No joke, I've never seen grown ups eating like this. Maybe I never cared to watch.
logos999 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:38 PM
  #57  
 
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In Switzerland, you wouldn't dare drink from your wine glass without clicking each other's glasses, looking the person IN THE EYE and saying "Prost" or "Zum Wohl".

Not obeying this custom is just slightly worse than leaving your shoes on in your guest's home.
kleeblatt is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:41 PM
  #58  
 
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And we found in Holland that not filling the shot glass to the rim with Jutterbitter (or whatever) was downright rude - just being cheap.
robjame is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 01:59 PM
  #59  
 
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logos999, in case you are serious, yes, that is how Americans eat. We cut our meat with the knife in our right hand and the fork in the left, put the knife down, switch the fork to the right hand and pick up the meat.
MonicaRichards is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 02:05 PM
  #60  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
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>in case you are serious
Yes, I am. I'll be watching (unobtrusively
;-) )the next time there's an opportunity.
logos999 is offline  

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