Two-handed Eating

Food court in the shopping mall, Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil. Note which hand the man in the orange shirt is using. The woman isn’t but, then again, she’s wearing a foot brace so maybe that accounts for her aberrant behavior? (Click for a larger version of image.)

Hold it right there!

Left hand, fork. Right hand, knife.

No switching.

Just cut and eat, cut and eat.

They’re doin’ it that way in Brazil, they do it that way in Poland, they do it all over the European continent and who knows how many other places where people eat with forks and knives.

So just where the heck did this silly “switch the fork to the right hand before eating” thing come in?

I learned that as a kid and, of course, you do what Mom and Dad and all your relatives do. So it’s some sort of cultural thing, right?

Is it like the Brits driving on the left which makes sense if you have a sword in your right hand and wanna slash that nasty, “I fart in your general direction” Frenchman. And because Napolean hated the English, he ordered his troops to “bear right” to throw off the Limeys.

Aha, strategy. I can see that. (Sneaky, too. Good call, shorty.)

Buttons on men’s and women’s clothing have a similar but, once you know it, understandable rationale. Men’s shirts have the button on the right because 1) most people are right-handed and 2) men therefore hold the button in their right hand to aim and push it through the hole.

Women’s clothing reverses that because, back when buttons were invented, the rich women who could afford clothes with buttons always had someone to dress them. So, the button is on the dresser’s right side, not the wearer’s. The dresser holds the button with her right hand and pushes it through the buttonhole of her lady’s garment.

I understand.

So, let’s go back to tableware.

When I set the table, I figure it out by thinking about which hand I was taught to use for the fork, my right, and to then put it on the wrong side. Then it’s right.

Who came up with this?

2 thoughts on “Two-handed Eating

  1. I concur, and I’ve done it for decades. I suspect that rationale for the switch is to slow down. I’d rather be efficient, at whatever speed I choose.

  2. The fork-hand doesn’t seem to be universal. I’m clumsy at scooping with the fork in my left hand so for peas, pastas and such, I want it in my right. But that delegates cutting to the left which doesn’t work well.

    At lunch I noticed several with the same arrangement but cutting OK. Maybe my new-found cutting hand (left) just needs practice?

    Interesting what you can find for entertainment when the TV has only five understandable channels to choose from, three of which are CNN.

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