I Don’t Understand Food Rules

See? See?! Why is this even necessary?!
See? See?! Why is this even necessary?!

For my mother’s birthday we went out to a place called BJ’s, where the portions are unnecessarily large and the food ridiculously good. As we stared down at the plethora of utensils that came in our napkins, the conversation inevitably turned to proper placement and use of the forks, knives and spoons. In this particular case we only had two forks and a knife, since any other necessary utensils came with the food, but I was reminded of the weird rules we humans have when it comes to table settings.

You have to use this fork for this, and that fork for that. You have three different spoons, they’re all used for different things, and even though they’re all just slightly different in size, they have very specific purposes. When you set the table, the utensils have to be placed in a certain order. Certain plates on top of other plates. Cut with one hand, eat with the other. Don’t use your fingers, it’s not polite.

Blah blah blah. Even if you’re Fancypants McMoneybags, surely you must get tired of the rules eventually. Utensils all serve the same function anyway! They pick up food and carry it to your mouth. Even if you’re a seven foot basketball player the journey isn’t that long, so why fuss over which one you use and where it sits on the table? Use what gets the job done! Once the food is in your mouth the process is all the same, so why bother with how the food gets there?

See, I can deal with some traditions and some aspects of culture, but most of those, even if they serve no practical function, have some type of meaning or purpose. What purpose is there for this? This is just silly, just very, very silly. But then, I question the point of a lot of things and tend to miss some of the enjoyment of random traditions. Maybe I’m a bore, I don’t know. But I do know that I love food, and that I really don’t care how it gets to my mouth as long as it makes the voyage successfully.

I also understand the purpose of having multiple utensils (for palette cleansers, making sure you have a new one for each meal and what have you), but you can still do all that without having different sizes and putting them in order!

I’m sure I’m not alone though. What are some rules that you don’t understand or think may be completely pointless? Do you enjoy certain traditions even if you think they serve no practical purpose? What is your favorite restaurant?


13 thoughts on “I Don’t Understand Food Rules

  1. In parts of France and in some other areas of Europe, you don’t get different knives and forks in non-posh restaurants. One set only. You keep them from the first course to the main course. If you don’t remove them from your plate then the waiter or waitress will, putting them onto the table next to you.
    No problems sorting cutlery in that sort of restaurant!

  2. My personally belief is that rules like these were created for no other reason but power. Someone wanted to have power over others an create a bunch of rules that you have to follow unless you want to be labeled as rude/slobbish/uncivilized/etc.

    One that bothers me is language, specifically “bad” language. Who decided which woulds are “bad” and which are okay? Why is the word “shit” considered foul language, but “fecal matter” is perfectly fine? Why can I talk about “breasts” without reproach, but talking about “tits” makes me somehow uncouth? I just find it all very silly. If I slam my toe on a shelf and it makes me feel better to say, “Fuck!”, it annoys me to have someone then turn to me and tell me that ladies shouldn’t speak like that. Why? I shouted in pain…why is that offensive to you?

    Don’t get me wrong, I try to keep my language “clean” when I’m around strangers and children, but personally I don’t understand what the big deal is. It’s only a word. It’s the CONTEXT that makes it offensive, not the word itself.

    1. I really like your way of thinking. I’d have thought that the whole concept of ‘bad words’ would die off in… what, middle school? People are weird though. I agree with the context thing as well… the whole concept of ‘bad words’ to begin with is funny, especially seeing as how it’s changed so radically over time with the rest of our languages.

      1. The best example of context I ever saw was on an episode of Penn & Teller’s Bullshit. Penn had this little puppy and he crooned at it in a gentle voice, saying things like, “I hate you, you little bastard. Yeah! I’m gonna run over your head with my car and throw your body in the wood chipper!” Then he started screaming at the top of his lungs, “I love you! I love you so much! You’re the best dog ever!” Predictably the dog was all cuddly when Penn was crooning about how much he hated him, and cowered in fear when he was shrieking his love. It’s all context, right? The dog can’t understand the words so he reacts to the tone. That’s what so many people can’t get a grasp on. Why get mad at someone for calling their friend a bitch if they were saying it in fun? Again, it’s just a word until you MAKE it an insult. *shrugs* People are funny. 🙂

    1. Haha. I admit I like trying to use them sometimes, but while I can use them okay, they’re too slow for me. Every time I go out to a place that uses them I’ll be like, ‘Yes, I am in the mood, I will eat everything… nevermind, switching to fork.’

      1. Yes, yes Chopsticks! Use them to eat your breakfast. Nothing like eating oatmeal with chopsticks!

  3. I tend to use a tea spoon when eating cereal or pudding, just because it feels like the right size portion for a mouthful. Tablespoon sized portions feel wrong. Apart from that (and a steak knife when eating steak, of course) I’d never be fussy about ‘the right type’ of utensil at home.

    Maybe it started off with someone trying to bring together a range of different people’s small preferences, to design the ‘perfect’ set of utensils, and it went a bit too far?

    1. Huh. That’s really interesting. I like using larger spoons for just about anything, because for me I tend to like more food at once. xD But different sizes for different foods, I could see that. Especially if you’re getting a dessert or something. If they’re insanely rich you might not want to take a huge bite…

  4. I’ve made a few mistakes with dinnerware, and even had one pointed out to me in front of a full table of people. So silly. I do find the transfer of the fork from the left hand to the right an interesting fact. It is much easier to simply cut meat and keep the fork in the left hand, but I don’t do it in public because it feels unladylike, yet, it’s the way food is eaten in other countries. … I’m not sure about my favorite restaurant. I think Rich and I tend to gravitate to steak houses – even locally owned rather than big chain.

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