Reference > Etiquette > The Knife and Fork

The Knife and Fork

There is but one "right" way to hold the knife or fork. When the knife and fork are used together, grasp the handle of the knife or fork with the first finger and the thumb so that the end of the handle touches the center of the palm of the hand. The hands should almost cover the handle, but the first finger should not extend down on the blade of the knife or on the prongs of the fork. The knife is held in the right hand only, and is used for cutting foods and spreading butter on bread. For the latter, a small knife, called a butter spreader, is sometimes provided. After the knife has been used for cutting, it should be so laid on the plate, that it rests wholly on it, never partly on the plate and partly on the table. It is not pleasing to see a guest at the table holding his knife upright or waving it in the air while he is talking.

The fork is held sometimes in the left hand and sometimes in the right. It should be in the left, when holding foods that are being cut with the knife. It may be held in either hand when conveying food to the mouth. It used to be considered "good form" to use only the right hand in lifting food to the mouth, though this necessitated changing the fork to the right hand after the knife had been laid aside. The common-sense method of keeping the fork in the left hand to carry food to the mouth is now accepted. When the fork is held in the right hand and used for conveying such food as mashed potato to the mouth, its handle should be grasped by the thumb and first finger in somewhat the manner as a pen is held.

When a second serving is desired, the knife and fork should be placed together on one side of the plate, in order to make room for the food. At the end of a course the knife and fork should be placed side by side in the center of the plate.


School and Home Cooking (1920).


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