Sunday, February 01, 2009

Eat this!

In the midst of the things that I am reading is "Kiss, Bow, or Shake Hands" by Morrison and Conaway. Apart from being a very useful book for businesspersons and diplomats, it is also all kinds of fun (if you are the kind of person who likes to hang out in the travel section of bookstores and read travel guides... which I am).

Proper eating decorum is mentioned under most of the entries, which is important because nothing shows how barbaric you are as your eating habits. I know this from personal experience. I am constantly getting pointed looks and remarks regarding how I handle a fork and knife. I try to fit in as best I can at a dinning table. I do not eat with my left hand in Muslim countries (which is considered the height of barbarity and amazingly difficult for me since I'm left handed) and in Denmark...

Well, here is the entry for utensil use in Denmark: "Danes hold their fork in their left hand, while their knife remains in the right."

That's it. You have no other options of how to eat here. The only time you put down your utensils is when you take a drink. Because I'm left handed and raised in a different culture, I have had to re-learn to eat and it is darned difficult. For me, it makes the most sense to have my fork in my right hand. But this is WRONG. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong. And don't think it doesn't get pointed out to me. Frequently. I'm thinking I should tattoo "I'm left handed, PEOPLE! DEAL!" on my forehead. It's hard enough for me to eat with my right hand, asking me to arm it with a knife and attack food on my plate while seated next to people NOT wearing kevlar is reckless endangerment.

So now you may be wondering, as I did, what does this book say about how you properly dine in the US? And so I quote:
"The fork is usually held in the right hand (by right-handed people, in any case), and it is used for eating (or sometimes cutting) relatively soft food. If something substantial needs to be cut, the fork switches from the right to the left hand, and a knife is used in the right hand to cut a bite-sized portion. Then the knife is put down, and the fork switches back to the right hand to continue dining."

Ja, b*tches! I ain't no barbarian! I knows how to eats proper like!

Try to explain this to Danes is to try to tell the wind to change direction.
AG: In the US, it's considered rude and sometimes even threatening to continue to hold your knife throughout the meal.
Dane: Yes, but you have guns.


Sometimes living in Denmark is to akin to living in a world of non sequiturs.

I'd like the world to know right now, that we think you all eat like a bunch of raving violent lunatics. We are much to nice to say anything to you about it. But we are laughing at you all the same.


  1. Oh, I'm dying here! I always feel odd eating a table full of Danes as I will always dine the 'American' way - no point in changing now! However, it was pointed out to me, that only the 'children' eat with their fork in their right hand.. bah.

  2. The only way I can eat potato chips with a fork and knife (for those who don't live in Denmark, I do not mean french fries, I mean flat chips and yes, this really happens) is to pretend it's a game. The "how many potato chips can I eat this way before I lose my mind" game. My record is somewhere around ten.

    In deference to my Danish family's sensibilities (they are so delicate, my Danish family) I simply refrain from eating potato chips in their company. It just bothers them so that after managing to eat about ten chips in a civilized way, I suddenly, without warning, USE MY HANDS!

  3. That is so weird, as my experience of Danes is that they eat with only a fork and in their right hand.

    Maybe it's just the Danes I know?

    Archaeogoddess - where have you been all my (expat in DK) life? You make funny posts :)

  4. Anonymous4:17 PM

    Oh too funny! Living in a country of non-sequiturs... (But YOU do have guns, don't you? ;-))

    Both my kids are left-handed and by golly they are going to eat in the way that is most comfortable to them. Who cares what others think? And eating crisps (potato chips with a fork) - now that just spoils the taste!! They - along with sandwiches and pizzas - are definitely finger foods!

  5. I am forwarding this to my left handed husband. :) We were debating over this just the other night.

    I eat cheeseburgers and pizza with my hands. Takes care of the whole knife/fork thing.

    Maybe someone can help me with this question... I was in a restaurant somewhere around Denmark and they gave me this pointy two pronged toothpick thingy... Was it really for my french fries?? My kids and I tried to see what other people were doing but didn't find any other pointy toothpicks so we thought maybe it was a kid thing. :)


Keep it clean, don't be mean....