American-Style Vs European-Style Dining

Hello, hello everyone!

It has been a long time coming but we are finally in our very first blog.

We will be discussing one of the most important lessons in Etiquette, dining. Many of the students in my classes are always excited about this, although they seem to feel a little nervous when we put it to practice. Some people are already practicing this day by day. However, may have slight mistakes in the placement of the utensils and usage of their fingers. There are a few distinct protocols when practicing dining etiquettes and we will discuss them here!

First of all, it is important to know dining etiquette for the simple fact you may never know who you are/will be dining within the near or distant future.  Plus you want to appear refined anytime you dine, right?  Some people do not really care but we are not those people! We are civilized and we always better ourselves by learning manners.

Different cultures have different practices and two of the most common dining styles are the American style and the European style. The major difference between the two is in American style, you rest the knife after cutting and switch the fork to the right hand if right-handed. That is called zig zag.  Now, the European style, which is also called Continental style, calls for you to keep both utensils in hand and feed yourself with your left where your fork remains and wrest the right wrist on the edge of the table.


American style dining requires a little more effort in preparing the food. See the instructions below:

  1. The fork is on the left side and the knife on the right. Extend index fingers at the top of the knife and fork and be sure the index finger stops at the neck of either utensil and the handle in the palm of your hand, not sticking out the side of your hands.
  2. Cut one piece at a time making sure that the knife is in front of the fork, and not behind it or between the tines. Oh by the way, what others call fork teeth, they are actually called tines, not teeth.  Just a little tip!
  3. When finished cutting a piece, place the knife at the top of the plate with the jagged side facing you, not outwards. Transfer the fork with the meat/portion of food onto the right hand and pivot the food to the mouth. If you are left-handed, keep the fork in the left hand.  Your empty left-hand goes into your lap.
  4. When cutting again, pick up the fork with your right hand and transfer the fork to the left hand again, and using the right hand, retrieve the knife from the top of the plate. Cut one piece at a time and repeat until finished.
  5. The paused position is when you leave the knife at the top of the plate and your fork rested, faced up at the 5 o’clock position.
  6. When finished eating, we place the knife and fork in a 5 o’clock position with the fork facing upwards and the knife with the jagged part facing the fork, not outside.

European style is a more efficient way of dining compared to the American style.

  1. The fork is in the left hand and the knife in the right. Place index fingers when holding them the same way instructed in the American style.
  2. Cut one piece at a time.
  3. Pivot the piece of food in your mouth with your left hand and enjoy it.
  4. Do not release the fork and knife. Keep both in your hands all-time when dining until it is time to rest or finish.
  5. When eating, for example, mashed potato, scoop the potato onto the back of the fork with the knife and then pivot the portion in your mouth.
  6. When eating rice, we push the rice directly on the fork using the knife. You place the fork flat-faced upward on the plate.  Then, you position the fork parallel to your body between your body and the fork.  Then, push the portion away from you onto the fork.  What we do not do is place the knife in front of the fork and pull the food to the fork. Be sure to position the fork where you are pushing the food away from you to the fork.
  7. The pause position is when the fork is in the 5 o’clock position and the knife is in the 7 o’clock position, fork faced downward and the fork overlapping the top of the knife.
  8. The finishing position is placing the knife and fork in a 5 o'clock position with the fork placing downwards.
  9. Hope you enjoyed your meal!

Which one should I use??

That really depends on which culture you are in. You can practice both at home and switch it up every now then. What matters is knowing them in case a need for a specific style arises. If you are in Europe, the Caribbean, or other cultures that primarily use the European style, you only want to practice the European style in those areas.  In America, you may use both because the USA is literally a melting pot of a great variety of cultures.

What if I do not like both of them?

No one is pressuring anyone to conform. We understand that we have different cultures and practices in dining. Some use a spoon, fork, and no knife, some use chopsticks, some use their bare hands but that doesn’t stop us from learning new things. Keep in mind, if you are the type of person who has big dreams and plans to travel, be sure to arm yourself with these skills to make yourself available to the opportunities that may come your way.

We always emphasize how learning new things will always be part of life and no one can take it away from us. From The Inside Out School of Etiquette teaches etiquette to children and adults. Many topics are available including dining etiquette, which is called Table Etiquette & Protocol. You will be prepared for when you need it.

If you want to know more, we have paid videos and FREE videos for you. We also have an intensive 5-Week Masterclass conducted by the owner, Jackie Vernon-Thompson live via zoom, if you ever want to be a Certified Etiquette Consultant and teach in your area and virtually! This is for everyone globally and we will try to help and educate as much as we can.

Our classes are conducted virtually and in-person for children and adults.

For any of your inquiries, reach us at info@fromtheinsideoutsoe.com, call us at 9548706414. Visit us at www.fromtheinsideoutsoe.com

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