Saturday, December 6, 2014

More of Amy Vanderbilt's Dining Etiquette

A knife and fork are always preferable to fingers when one is in good company, but the following rules will help in dining situations requiring them.

Artichokes

"The inedible part of the leaf is then placed at the side of the plate so that by the time the choke (the fuzzy center) is reached there is a neat pile of leaves..." 
A finger food. The leaves are pulled off, one at a time, the fleshy base dipped in the accompanying sauce, then dexterously pulled through the teeth to extract the tender part. The inedible part of the leaf is then placed at the side of the plate so that by the time the choke (the fuzzy center) is reached there is a neat pile of leaves which, if the artichoke is very big, may be transferred in part at least to the butter plate, for greater convenience. When the choke appears, it is held with the fork or fingers and the tip of the knife neatly excises this inedible portion. Then the reward of all the labor comes the delicate fond or bottom of the artichoke, which, if large, is cut in manageable bits, then dipped in sauce and enjoyed thoroughly.

Asparagus

Asparagus without sauce is a finger food. "Do not chew up and then discard, however delicately, the tougher ends."
It is not taboo to eat this in the fingers, but it is messy, so a fork is better. Use the fork to separate the tender part from the tougher end of the stem, then, again with the fork, reduce the edible part to manageable lengths to be dipped in sauce. Do not chew up and then discard, however delicately, the tougher ends, though you may bite off anything edible that remains on the ends by holding them in your fingers, not with the fork but this is an informal procedure.

Bacon

Traditional American breakfast fare for those who aren't counting calories.
Very crisp bacon may be eaten in the fingers if breaking it with a fork would scatter bits over the table. Bacon with any vestige of fat must be cut with fork or knife and eaten with the fork.

Small Birds or Frogs' Legs

Crispy frog legs are a delicacy in many countries ~ "... the bones of frogs' legs may be eaten in part with the fingers when the legs... are so small as to defy all but the most expert trencherman." 
 Tiny birds, such as squab and quail, and the bones of frogs' legs may be eaten in part with the fingers when the legs or wings are so small as to defy all but the most expert trencherman. Such small bones are held in the fingers by one end while the other end is placed directly in the mouth. The impression of gnawing the bone must be avoided. It is no shame, by the way, for a lady confronted with a squab or half a broiled chicken to ask assistance from the gentleman with her in dissecting it unless perhaps she's at a formal dinner. This is better than running the risk of having the meat land in her lap or, on the other hand, going hungry, if she is really inept.
Cake
This chocolate cake would be eaten with a fork.
Sticky cake is eaten with a fork. Dry cake, such as pound cake or fruit cake, is broken and eaten in small pieces. Tiny confection cakes (served at wedding receptions, etc...) are eaten in the fingers. Cream puffs, Napoleons, and eclairs, all treacherous as to filling, are eaten with a fork.

Celery and Olives       

Ornate servers for olives, like this example by Gorham, are highly collectable and very valuable.
Celery and olives are on the table when guests are seated if there is no service; or they are passed by a servant during the soup course. They are no longer considered essential even at formal dinner. They are taken in the fingers, placed on the side of the plate or on the butter plate (and see "Salt"). Olives, if small and stuffed, are put all at once in the mouth otherwise they are bitten in large bites and the stone put aside but not cleaned in mouth. 

Chicken (Broiled and Fried)

Bones are not put into the mouth but are stripped with the knife while being held firmly by the fork.
Chicken must be eaten with fork and knife except at picnics. Bones are not put into the mouth but are stripped with the knife while being held firmly by the fork. Joints are cut if one's knife is sharp enough and it can be done without lifting the elbows from the normal eating position. Chicken croquettes should be cut with the fork only, as are all croquettes and fish cakes, then conveyed to the mouth in manageable pieces.