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European vs. American Dining Styles

{ 8 comments… add one }
  • LB May 18, 2009, 8:36 pm

    That is really interesting, especially the part about using your silverware to signal to the servers whether or not you are finished. I had a teacher talk to us about that when she did a day on dining etiquette when I was in junior high. Later she took us on a field trip to a nice restaurant so we could practice.

    Seems like I remembered most of it correctly!

  • Lara February 14, 2010, 2:08 am

    I’m Australian and was always raised to dine in the European style, so using your silverware to signal when you are finished is nothing new to me. And I have to say, a lot of Australians, especially older people, consider it rude to eat in the American dining style in Australia.

  • geekgirl February 25, 2010, 5:51 pm

    Explains why, as an English girl, got very odd looks eating using the European method in America. Though it does seem to make more sense to me – the American method seems very fiddly, all that putting the knife up and down, up and down.

  • Jill March 19, 2010, 1:14 am

    Is the bit about where to place your cutlery at the end of a meal accurate? I live in Australia too, where the European method is used, but I have always placed my cutlery vertically in the middle of the plate when I finish eating (i.e. at six o’clock), rather than at an angle as shown in this clip. This is what others tend to do as well (at least, those with decent table manners), and is what I learned from my European parents and have seen used by other European visitors (not only family but also business associates from many other parts of Europe). I do recall an Italian family using the method from this clip though. Can anyone clarify?

    I sure hope some waitstaff see this clip – far too often I have had meals interrupted by staff trying to clear the plate of someone who isn’t finished eating and has tried to signify that by placing their knife and fork apart, not to mention the times a waiter clears away the plates of those who are finished while others are still eating or brings out another course before the previous one has been eaten.

  • Caitlin March 23, 2010, 9:29 pm

    The America dining style seems a bit too fiddly to me! Cut food with tiles down, put knife in top corner, change hands and eat with tines up. Too fiddly.

    I am also Australian and we use the European style.
    Jill, I agree with you about the 6 O’Clock cutlery when you’re finished. My parents and grandparents all taught me that.

  • Ari May 25, 2010, 4:04 am

    I’m an American, married to an Australian and living in Australia. It was very hard at first for me to learn the European style of eating, as I was raised with the American style, but it’s true what Lara said — Lots of Australians consider it rude to eat with the American style.

    My mother always raised me to have excellent table manners, so I wish I had seen a video like this prior to the first time having a formal dinner with my In-Laws! With all of my clattering around changing hands, they thought I was quite the spectacle. Particularly when I would put my hands in my lap constantly. A comment was made, and I was mortified, and spent the rest of the evening trying to mimick the way my husband was eating.

    I’ve gotten proficient in it, and it is a bit easier, without all of the switching, but I have to say, when I am at home, I eat the American way. 🙂

  • Adica April 18, 2011, 10:16 am

    I guess I’ve always eaten mostly the European way, despite being an American? I think my grandmother tried to teach me the “proper” American way, but with all the changing hands, I thought, “That’s stupid,” and just kept doing it the way I’d grown up doing it. The only time I change hands is when I’m switching from something that requires a knife to something that doesn’t, which is the way I’ve seen most people do it.

  • Nadia July 15, 2015, 7:14 pm

    I don’t know if I can submit a comment so far from the original post date, but I loved this post! I vaguely knew that European style is different but had no clue how and the video was fascinating! I also find the method much more sensible for efficiently eating steak, for example.

    I love Etiquette Hell and touring the archives is a never-ending source of information and edification. So many curiosities are explained, and sensibly, and so many of my own life’s FAUX-PAS-ARAMA events have been exposed!

    I really appreciate your blog, Ms. Jeanne, you have helped me so much with learning to have the polite spine I have always desired but had no clue how to acquire. You show me true to life responses I can actually use! ”I’m sorry but I can’t accommodate that request” – I do paraphrase it for the specific person, but I never had the sentiment before in actual words to use! I love it because there is no explanation or justification required – ”no” is sufficient. Learning to BELIEVE that – that was the hardest part!

    Thank you so much!

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