Thursday, October 29, 2009

Etiquette Challenge: Finger foods

Getting coffee is no excuse to allow your manners obligation to fall by the wayside. In Starbucks (I know. I know.) I asked my two-year-old daughter if she was through with her milk, "I don't want any more." she responded. I reminded her, as I do, no thank you, Mama. This exchange, overheard by a group nearby, spurred the inevitable discussion of these times (Why don't more people teach their children manners?) but continued on to an etiquette subject I've never covered before nor considered, frankly. You can thank a lovely soul named Elise for this little primer, she was well taught... six, she told me, there are six things you may eat with your hands.

Amy Vanderbilt, Letitia Baldridge, and Nancy Tuckerman, two of the three having held the most senior internal protocol positions in the United States, have not addressed this subject entirely. Which only goes to show there is often more comprehensive etiquette sensibility in the pinkie of a girl at Starbucks who may never have given much thought to her grace, than a black limo full of White House etiquette doyenne's. But I digress.

I have uncovered several (so far). Of these, a few have appeared here occasionally as separate etiquette subjects: Bread (broken up, buttered in small pieces, eaten with the hands). Artichokes (plucked one leaf at a time from the whole). Sandwiches. Fan tail shrimp. Chips (potato, Saratoga, what have you). Olives. Caviar. And in my book: Anything you are going to cause me to eat while holding a cocktail glass and perched atop a pair of Manolo's better be finger food. Period.

Apparently, there is some disagreement over the others: Asparagus (I cut mine on the bias and eat it with a fork unless it is crudite). Shrimp of every other variety (fish fork or dinner fork). Smoked salmon and trout. Sushi. And so on.

Do you have another for me?

Drink Starbucks, learn etiquette: One more reason no one should be complaining about caffeine intake.


LPC said...

I have read that the correct way to eat sushi - not chirashi but the others - with your fingers. One finger on top, finger and thumb below.

Charlotte said...

Fried chicken.

EntertainingMom said...

bagels? donuts? LOL

When I was little my mother used to tell me to watch and see what the host and hostess were doing. If they were eating something with their fingers, then it would be alright for me to as well. At 40 I still often follow that bit of advice!