French Table Manners Matter...

Old Mar 31st, 2014, 03:48 AM
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"French glorious bread". I have no trouble finding it. Even better with French glorious butter!
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 03:49 AM
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Good thing French don't eat corn on the cob on the cob - can just see them trying to cut the cob up with a downward facing fork and knife or trying to slice the kernels off!
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 03:54 AM
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"French glorious bread" ah maybe you mean the foul steam pumped white sticks with a crunchy exterior
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 04:07 AM
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Yes that's it! Like that vile stuff some restaurants get from Poilane.
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 04:27 PM
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That explains the British thing with mushy peas at least. No way could they get a forkful of rolly peas on a fork tines down.
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 06:35 PM
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Pal - re corn cobs. It's hardly rocket science! Anchor the cob with the fork ( tines down) in the left hand & cut the kernels off with the knife.

Or, more easily, use corn forks eat the kernels off the cob.

That woman in the video purporting to demonstrate how to use a knife & fork has a lot to learn. Waving her flatware around while talking would have had her banned from our childhood table.

Put the damned things down! No one is going to steal your meal. And get your index finger off the knife blade, woman!
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Old Mar 31st, 2014, 06:38 PM
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Oh and peas ...
" I eat my peas with honey,
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on the knife."

Look it up if you don't recognise or remember it.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 03:41 AM
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Pal - re corn cobs. It's hardly rocket science! Anchor the cob with the fork ( tines down) in the left hand & cut the kernels off with the knife>

So if corn on cob is served I should do the laborious method Bokhara describes as etiquette and not just eat it like it should be ate - right off the cob. I think most would understand that it would be hard to learn how to cut the kernels off like you say on the spot - I guess if it raised hackles I would just forego the corn - and I've never got any really good sweet corn in France - more like field corn!
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 04:05 AM
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We just got back from Paris, and saw lots of Europeans eating American-style cheeseburgers and fries with a fork and knife. (In the U.S., we eat cheeseburgers with our hands. And the fries, usually..)
When I ordered a highly recommended veggie burger at a vegan restaurant, I noticed I was the only one eating it with my hands. Hope no one was offended. I did eat the fries with a fork, but that's how I eat them at home.

We also had dinner once, next to an older American couple who made us cringe by asking for more ice for their drinks, every time their ice melted down in the glass.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 06:09 AM
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Our farming cousins in Spain make fun of use for eating corn, because that is what they feed the pigs.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 06:12 AM
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Margaret Visser, in "The Rituals of Dinner" (1991) examines eating etiquette in a number of cultures and most importantly, how it has changed over time. She relates how in 1885, Branchereau once described how polite Frenchmen used the water supplied in finger bowls to 'mouth rinse' at the end of the meal. There were important rules to follow in this bit of etiquette: you were not to swallow the water, you were to rinse with as little noise as possible, and spit out into the container provided, etc. etc. All this at the table.

Mouth rinsing at table went in and out of fashion in both Europe and Britain over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, before slowly disappearing for good. Here's the relevant point as it applies to this thread:

"During the long period while mouth-rinsing after dinner was slowly being put down in Europe, there were shocked reports from travellers who saw foreigners doing it - it is often taken to be the proof of a superior sensibility to react with disgust."

The joke is, that the French traveller LaRouchfoucault -Liancourt who saw it practiced by the upper classes in England in 1784 was horrified, yet as Visser notes, it was back in fashion in France 100 years later. And 50 years after THAT, Mrs. Beeton (apparently some etiquette columnist of the early 20th) was just as horrified to describe it, she said it was the "custom of the French and other continentals."

Anyone who thinks they are going to master this game of rules to 'fit in' once and for all with another culture is delusional.

By the way BumbleB6, surely it is up to the server or host (you don't specify if this was a public or private occasion) to graciously guide diners or guests away from behaviour that the host doesn't wish to enable( e.g "sorry madame/monsieur, we are out of ice); if host does not do so, then that is tantamount to endorsement and is hardly to the discredit of the diners if they don't alter their patterns. In any case, surely we'd agree that what the host or server sanctions is a matter between the host and the diners in question, and anyone seated nearby is off the hook as far as correcting the situation.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 06:20 AM
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As an aside, Margaret Visser is one of the most knowledgable and entertaining of speakers. I have been privileged to attend her lectures and was, in fact, a student of her husband's at University College.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 06:30 AM
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Oh, I do agree, the waiter allowed it; yet - we chatted with the couple and they complained to us that this was the first waiter, during their week-long stay in Paris, who had not been "rude" to them. I was surprised to hear that. I never experienced rude wait staff there, last week or 20 years ago, when I went, so I guessed that a)maybe at other places, they demanded things like ice, and more than once during a meal, which many places may not reserve for drinks; or b)they mistook waiters' formality and lack of being chatty, for rudeness.
American wait staff, especially in the Midwest, are very chatty and friendly (too much, imo. I have people at the table I can converse with..)
And this waiter was very chatty and jovial. We also didn't have to ask for the bill; so apparently this place trains their staff to make Americans, at least, feel "at home".

We never gave them our opinion about the ice, btw.

And, btw, I rest my elbows on the table sometimes while eating, and I did there. I'm sure, between that, and my picking up my sandwich, I was considered a barbarian. Oh, well.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 06:34 AM
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My French in-laws and son constantly complain about how rude French waiters can be - so even the French get brusque treatment sometimes.

difference between grovelling for tips like in the U S and being a professional waiter doing his/her job as he/she sees fit and not depending on diners for their wages (tips).

Sometimes formalness in doing one's job could be considered to be rude.
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Old Apr 1st, 2014, 06:36 AM
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Mrs. Beeton was the author of a famous cookbook in the mid-19th century. She also gave instructions on a variety of subjects involved in running a Victorian household. So I wouldn't be surprised if etiquette was included.
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Old Nov 11th, 2015, 11:52 AM
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I'm a little stymled with a question concerning French flatware that I hope someone here can help me with. I have a set of French sterling flatware made by Tetard freres, Paris. The knives have two edges. One one side the cutting edge runs the length of the blade and on the other it runs perhaps a two thirds of the blade. The long edge is obviously the cutting edge with a dropped tang on that side.

My question is that when I set the knife at table, on the right, with the long cutting edge towards the plate the makers name/mark is face up which I thought was incorrect. Since the forks should be tines down on the left should the knives be edge out/makers mark down as well? It's the only remedy I can think of.

Any advice would be appreciated.
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Old Nov 11th, 2015, 04:51 PM
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Have never seen a table set with the forks tines down - no matter in what country I was eating. And quite a few of the restaurants were definitely fine dining - with the full complement of knives, forks, spoons and glassware set all around the dinner plate.
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Old Nov 11th, 2015, 05:28 PM
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nyt: tines down is a very formal way to arrange flatware. Fine sterling is actually intended to be displayed that way, though you seldom see it these days. When I have a formal dinner (maybe only once or twice a year) that is how I lay out the place settings.

prmbrown: I don't remember seeing two edged knives, but I'd bet if you googled it you could find the correct method.
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Old Nov 11th, 2015, 05:51 PM
  #219  
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IIRC, my mother's teaching is what janisj said: tines down for a (now rarely used) very formal service of fine sterling.

I would suspect that the placement of this unusual knife depends on its purpose; it might even end up placed crosswise above the service area. But I'm just guessing. Do let us know what you learn!
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Old Nov 11th, 2015, 08:24 PM
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I wish I could post a picture (can you?) but yes, I've googled and talked to the best jeweler in these parts with no luck.

Disregard the tines down comment for the moment it's the knife that's driving me crazy. If the blade faces the plate (on the right side of the plate) the jeweler's mark shows and that's got to be wrong wouldn't you think? So other than putting the knife on the right which couldn't be right, the knife has to be flipped so that the blade faces away from the plate or at least that's what I'm left with.

Oh, I should have mentioned that it's definitely a dinner knife but the luncheon knife is the same.

Thanks for the suggestions
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