Perhaps the first lesson of etiquette that I learned as a young man, after put the napkin on my lap, or don’t cry over spilt milk was the proper use of the fork. I remember my mother, whom I sat directly across for the dinner table. Demonstrate the proper way to cut my meat. Fork in left hand, knife in right, pierce the meat with the fork and cut off a small bite with the knife. Then set the knife down, transfer the fork to your right hand and take a bit. Rinse well and repeat. (She did not say the last, it just seemed to fit in my head.)
Being the curious young toddler that I was I asked the inevitable: Why? She went on to explain that during the American Revolution, (sorry for my readers abroad: The American Rebellion,) that this was a way that the Patriots, those who wished to separate from England, could quietly recognize each other from the Loyalists, those who remained loyal to the King. She continued to explain, as I continued to ask why, (dude I was 3 or 5, what would you expect?) that it is an American tradition and that we value the sacrifice that the Patriots made so that we could live in this great nation. With that, a style of dining was programmed in to me.
This just came to me, while I was writing this piece, that the real reason she showed me this “Tradition” is that it markedly increased the amount of time that I took to consume my meal. In turn, allowing her and my father more time to relax and enjoy their meals. Clever, very clever.
Years later, when managing restaurants, I adopted the affectation of keeping the fork in my left hand. In my mind I thought that this made me appear more continental and therefore a more refined diner. (It is all about self-image folks.)In truth I realized how much easier it is to keep a fork in my left hand. I do tend to rush through my meal and must remember to take time to contribute to the dinner table conversation. So maybe my mother was not wrong with her American tradition.
I am writing about this today because I recently had right shoulder surgery and can barely use a knife with my right hand let alone perform the old switch-a-roo to demonstrate my patriotism. This does not pose a problem, I assure you. Just the other day I was able to manage a burger fires and a beer, ALL with my left hand. Thank God I have a lifetime of skills to draw upon in order to feed myself. Or maybe I am just regressing to the next level of inquiry: Why not?
Be well, I promise something more toothsome in next week’s musings.
Until next time,
Eat Well and Smile Often