Proper Knife and Fork Etiquette in Europe – Part 2

If any of you remember where Part 1 left off, I’ll start off by repeating the last and very most important point of the whole blog:

That picture, number 3, was the basis for all eating life here in Europe. Look at the following picture:


Now consider this photo:


Now for the most part, this photo is similar to the first one, with one major difference. If you’d like to consider this difference, I can go out to my Wife and strike up a short, but witty conversation about the lower forms of higher pond life, which usually gets some sort of response from her.

Now, the last photo shows the basic position which is correct, but the addition of a roll of paper towels, although handy in messy eating situations, is a true Faux Pas, or false step. At this point if you are at a typical Danish Party with the festivities going their usual way towards wreck and ruin, your Wife might make some sort of comment likening you to your deceased, but at one time, noisy and boisterous Father, and how you are becoming just like him, talking loud and the like. I find it to be difficult if not impossible to carry a conversation, or at tune as the case might be, at those kind of parties. When everyone has reached that point of extreme happiness, someone decides to turn up the volume on the already high music, thus rendering any and all conversation to be either impossible or at the famous ”near your Father” level.

I quickly removed the paper towels, but my Wife didn’t have a better alternative, which meant that we couldn’t wouldn’t dare eat incorrectly and embarrass ourselves in front of our neighbors and friends, who wouldn’t know you from Adam (and Eve) at this point in time. I might point out that they too might have been eating messily, but no one decided to point out that fact, which had been known to ruin friendships, and marriages to boot.

If we had been at home, and a similar situation occurred, then I would propose the following alternative:


Now the placement of the proper napkin is on the correct side and in a correct form. Some might want to place this item under the plate, but I haven’t worked out all the details as yet. The motif might not suit everyone, especially during a Summer Party, but when push comes to shove and your special Danish-steak-surprise-sauce is dribbling down your party shirt – which your wife just might have chosen for you, because being a man and an American man, you might realize that all of your taste is in your mouth, and in choosing your shirt for you, your significant other just might save you from embarrassment at the hands of your neighbors.

I must point out that I have made yet another Faux Pas with the placement of the spoon, la cuillere in French, on the left-hand side, when all other cultured people know that it/they should reside on the right-hand side of the knife!

Here are some utensils for you to practice on proper etiquette at home. Note: it requires you to print an example of the above drawing, and cut it out with scissors. I would not be furthering the proper etiquette, if I didn’t make this teaching step-by-step, so a simplification is necessary at times.


I have purposely not shown the proper placement of the utensils for fear of making yet another Faux Pas, which again would show my ignorance and crudity in the instruction of something that I have no knowledge of what so ever!

I’ve just taken a new photo showing the proper usage of the fork- la fourchette, the knife-le couteau, and the spoon, la cuillere in French if you’ve forgotten!


Now you can see the correct positioning in the left photo, as opposed to the right.

The actual distance is not the most important part here, but some of you purists, might want to show off by using your metric and, or English measuring tape and putting things right as it were!

This blog is slowly but surely sliding into number 3, but not before we cover the last point of a most important addition to your proper etiquette: The Napkin. The Napkin or Serviette in French, and also in Danish, adds to the flavor and spice of your table setting. I have used Sanity Claus to show one of the many examples of decorating the most drab of all placements. Here are a few more:


Married to a Dane, means never having to say no to a Serviette with a Christmas theme on it, no matter what month your Summer Party happens to occur in…..

and just remember, Napkins (late 14th century from French through Latin) from ”Nape” a tablecloth.

(Source: Online Etymology Dictionary)

Remember Part 3 is surly on its way, and it will disclose truths that some might say were better left hidden in the sands of time.

Remember too, if you are not an European, then you will most likely never get it right, no matter how many blogs I write on the subject.

Just so you have nothing to look forward to….