Which hand do you use to hold your fork?
In the United States, there are two styles of dining: American or Zig-Zag and Continental.
The very thought that the American dining style may be preferred over traditional British table manners has caused a firestorm among some British journalists.
One writer referred to the new trend as a “ghastly revelation” and “simply too hideous to be tolerable,” while another blamed cell phones as the reason young adults needed to use the American dining style to keep one hand free. No matter your opinion, it is important to know both.
The American School of Protocol® teaches mastery of both dining styles. When eating Continental, the fork remains in the left hand with tines pointed down and the knife is held in the right hand. Between bites your utensils rest on the plate in a triangle, fork tines down at the 8’ o’clock position and the knife at the 4 o’clock position.
When you are finished, or to close out in Continental style, the knife and fork are placed side by side on the bottom of the plate in the 6:30 clock position.
When eating in American or Zig-Zag style, the fork is in the left hand to hold the food while the right hand uses the knife to cut. Once the food is cut, the knife is placed at the top of the plate with the blade facing your throat. The fork is then switched from the left hand to the right for eating. The resting position for America is to place the knife at the top of the plate with the blade facing you and the fork in the 4 o'clock position with tines up.
When you are finished or to “close out” your meal in American style, the knife moves down from the top of the plate to the 3 o’clock position. The fork moves up from the 4 or 5 o’clock to 3 o’clock. If you are right handed, you will use the above close out. If you are left handed, close out will be on the left side of your plate at the 9:45 clock position.
Once you begin the meal, your utensils never touch the table again whether you are using the Continental or American method. Knives and forks are placed together in close out to show the server you are finished eating.
Knowing how to use your knife and fork with confidence is an important part of dining etiquette. The American style is only used in the USA. The Continental method is well known throughout the world. It takes a little practice to master Continental style but it is worth it. If traveling abroad, you will want to master Continental dining.
The key is to be comfortable with your choice. Today our society is multi-cultural and major business dinners are international. Cultural dining styles are mixed and the lines are blurred. It is important to know both dining styles so you will be confident no matter where you go.
In early October, students from Malaysia and London traveled to Georgia’s American School of Protocol to learn to teach etiquette to young children and adults. Both styles of dining are taught to adults as well as children.
The American School of Protocol offers unparalleled training for individuals who want to teach etiquette to 1st through 12th grades and collegians. Our 5-Day Children’s Etiquette Certification provides not only curriculum, but training on how to start your etiquette business journey. This nationally recognized five-day intensive Etiquette and Life Skills program gives you hands-on training and thoroughly prepares you to teach your own classes.
The etiquette certification training program is taught in Atlanta, Georgia by Founder and President, Peggy Newfield and her knowledgeable staff of professionals, all giving you first-hand lessons from the company’s 30+ years of experience. Ms. Newfield has traveled extensively and offers a wealth of information on international and cultural differences.
Whether you use the Continental or American style of dining, good training allows you to be able to easily adapt and feel comfortable to any situation at home or abroad.