27 Mar

If you are left handed you won’t be able to count        the number of times your hostess sighs and mumbles under her breath when she finds a place to seat you.  She will need to rearrange her seating plan so that she can place you at the end of the dining room table so that your left hand doesn’t get in the way of the right-handed wielding fork.    In many situations, from sports to taking notes in school,  left handed people are made to feel awkward and clumsy –  which by the way, they are.  There are more accidents occurring to left handed people since they live in a right handed world.  And how is this information important to my trip to France?

Well, for once, it may be the right-handed Canadian and American that may feel gauche and awkward due to the French way of holding their forks!  I read the following from Adrian Leed’s book  Top 100 Cheap Insider Paris Restaurants.  :

“With the fork in your left hand and the knife in your right, stab the food with the fork and cut the food with the knife.  Bring the morsel to your mouth with the fork still in your left hand, but turned downward.  Rice and potatoes must be pushed up onto the back of the fork”  

On the following web-site, the author speculates why Americans don’t follow the European style of eating:

Eating with your fork in the right hand, with the tines pointing up has been popular in North America for many generations. This variation in behavior is most likely due to the fact that early American settlers didn’t have the luxury of complete cutlery (silverware) sets. If a family shared a single knife, each person had to cut all their meat at once before passing the knife to the next person and, without the aid of a knife to position the food, it’s easier to wield the fork with your more dextrous right hand.…/Why-do-Europeans-use-a-fork-in-their-lefthand.

The following web-site gives further explanation of the European method of using their knife and fork:

The European, or “Continental,” style of using knife and fork is somewhat more efficient, and its practice is also slightly used in the United States, where left-handed children are no longer forced to learn to wield a fork with their right hands. According to this method, the fork is held continuously in the left hand and used for eating. When food must be cut, the fork is used exactly as in the American style, except that once the bite has been separated from the whole, it is conveyed directly to the mouth on the downward-facing fork.

Some of us left-handed people may sometimes switch fork and knife if they have a particularly tough piece of meat since the left hand is stronger to use for cutting.  However, I’m  convinced that we left-handed tourists will better adapt than the right-handed tourists to  the French style since we are comfortable holding our forks in our left hand. When I was observing how I ate a salad last night, I did see that one aspect of their style is difficult when you have some cranberries, nuts and cheese that you are getting onto your fork with a piece of lettuce.  It really is simpler to keep the fork tines upward so that all those morsels of food make it into your mouth!

Therefore, I  watched the following youtube “How To Use A Fork And Knife”  to help me  improve my European style of eating:



Posted by on March 27, 2012 in France, Paris, Travel


Tags: , , ,


  1. Natalie

    April 1, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    It’s a hard habit to get used to, but it requires less shuffling of utensils when cutting and eating food. I go back and forth between “American” and continental style eating.

    • gjervis

      April 2, 2012 at 6:47 pm

      Yes, the continental style works well for me until I need to cut my steak! Then I need my stronger left hand. I guess I nee to do some exercises to strengthen my right hand!!


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