Friday, October 17, 2014

Etiquette and Eating Fruits Properly

Apples and Pears - 

Informally eaten in the hand, but at table they are taken onto the fruit plate and spirally peeled, or quartered with a knife, then peeled. The sections are then cored and eaten with the fingers or with the fruit fork. Lady apples, tiny as crab apples, are eaten in the fingers like plums.
Life is just a bowl of ... kumquats? Cherry forks are ideal for eating kumquats.

Apricots, Cherries, Kumquats, Plums -

 Apricots, cherries, plums are eaten in one or two bites, and the stones, cleaned in the mouth, are dropped into the cupped hand and placed on the side of the plate. Kumquats are bitten into or eaten whole depending on size.

Halved Avocados - 

In their shells these are eaten with a spoon, scooped out and taken spoonful by spoonful, with the dressing (perhaps lime juice and powdered sugar, or a little lake of French dressing) provided. Halved or quartered avocados in salads or on fruit platters are eaten with the fork after being broken into manageable bites.
Fried banana servers are rare in the world of silver flatware collecting.
Bananas - 

Very informally (at picnics and by small children) bananas are peeled down with the end of the skin as a protective holder. When eaten at table from a fruit dish they are peeled, then broken as needed into small pieces and conveyed to the mouth with the fingers.

Berry servers and berry forks shown with berries and strawberries.  Strawberries are not actually berries, but bananas and zucchini are botanically designated in the berry plant family.

Berries - 

Eaten with a spoon. Large strawberries are sometimes served whole with their stems on. These are grasped by the stem and dipped in
powdered sugar on the plate, then eaten in one or two bites, with the stem remaining in the fingers.
Grapes - 

Cut a bunch or section of bunch from bunches in bowl with knife or scissors (never absent-mindedly pull off grapes from centerpiece or arrangement of fruit) . Eat one grape at a time, after placing bunch on serving plate. Grape skins, if you can't eat them, should be cleaned in the mouth but not chewed, then removed in the cupped hand with the pits and placed on the side of the plate. Or, holding the grape with the stem end to the lips, pop the inside into the mouth and lay skin on side of plate if they will pop.

Once refrigerated railroad cars were in use, pointed spoons, originally designed for oranges, had serrated edges added to them, which made them ideal for grapefruit.

Grapefruit -  

Eaten, halved, with a pointed fruit spoon. Sections should be loosened with grapefruit knife before serving. Do not squeeze out juice at table, except en famille if the family can stand it.      

A selection of mango forks from Holland and Ecuador.
Mangoes - 
Wits say the only place to eat them is in the bathtub. But they may be used in a fruit bowl and eaten at table, even though the best way to serve them is peeled, quartered, pitted, and chilled. A whole ripe (spotted) mango should be cut in half with a sharp fruit knife, then quartered. Then, with the quarter turned skin up and held in place with a fork, the skin should be carefully pulled away rather than peeled from the fruit. The juicy sections are then cut in one-bite morsels. Finger bowls or at least paper napkins are necessary, as this fruit stains badly.
An ornate, Gilded Age, gilded orange spoon. The vermeil finish on the bowl of this spoon, protected the silver from the citric acid.
Oranges -

Peeled with a sharp knife in one continuous spiral (if you're adept), then pulled apart into segments and, if the segments are small, eaten segment by whole segment. If segments are large they are cut in half cross-wise with the fruit knife and eaten with fingers or fruit fork. Navel oranges are sometimes more easily eaten if the skin is quartered, then pulled down toward the navel and pulled off. The navel is then cut off and the orange segmented or cut in slices and eaten with the fork. At breakfast, oranges may be served halved like grapefruit, with the segments loosened, and are eaten with a fruit spoon.

Most gentlemen carried a personalized fruit knife with them, to cut and quarter not only their own fruits, but those of ladies whom they may have been picnicking with.
Halve, then quarter with fruit knife. Then lifting the skin of each quarter at an edge, pull it off. Eat sections in small pieces with fork, preferably, as peach juice stains table linen.
Many fruits, sadly, were "Rodney Dangerfields"... they got no respect and no special utensils designed for them. Persimmons, papayas, kiwis, watermelon, peaches, cantaloupes, apples and pears are some of those "Rodney Dangerfields." And though the pineapple never had its own silver flatware, it did grace centerpieces at many tables in the New England states, as well as in England, and has become a symbol of hospitality.


Often served as a first course with the top cut off well below the stem and the base cut flat so the fruit stands firmly on the plate. Grasping the persimmon with the left thumb and index finger, scoop out and eat a spoonful at a time, keeping the shell intact. Avoid the skin which, unless dead ripe, is puckery. The large pits are cleaned in the mouth, dropped into the spoon, and then deposited on the side of the plate. Persimmons in salad are peeled and quartered too difficult a procedure to attempt at table, and persimmons in a fruit arrangement firm enough to be decorative are likely to be all but inedible anyway. They should be dead ripe and slightly spotted.


Eaten with a spoon if served cut-up for dessert. If served on flat plates in quarters or eighths, peeled pineapple is eaten with a fork, after being cut with fruit knife.

Stewed or Preserved Fruit-

The pits or bits of core of cherries, prunes, plums, apples, etc., eaten in compote form with a spoon are dropped into the spoon, then deposited on the side of the plate.
Citrus peelers were popular items for the Victorian and Edwardian Era table.
Stripped of their skins, segmented, and eaten in the fingers without cutting or breaking the segments.


If served cubed and chilled (often in white wine), eaten from a compote with a fruit spoon. Otherwise eaten with the fork. If seeds are present, the fruit is taken seeds and all into the mouth, then the seeds are cleaned in the mouth, dropped into the cupped hand, and placed on the side of the plate, entirely dry.

Etiquette instructions from Amy Vanderbilt's Complete Book of Etiquette.  Photos of fruits and utensils courtesy of site moderator, Maura Graber