The Old Coot mastered the knife and fork

We eat stupid! We Americans. If you pay attention to how we use a knife and fork. Throw a steak on our plate, or anything that requires cutting, and we pick up the fork with our left hand, the knife with our right and go to work. We hold the T-bone down with the fork, cut a piece with our knife, lay down the knife, switch the fork to our right hand, pick up the morsel and send it to our pie hole. (If we’re right handed. Just the opposite if we’re left handed.) We repeat the process until there is nothing left to cut. With an eight-ounce steak, we put the knife down and switch hands more than a dozen times.

Where to put the knife? That is the question. In real fancy restaurants, you might find a knife rest next to your plate. It looks like a miniature set of bar bells. For years I didn’t know what it was. Most people lay their knife back down on the table, causing a mess, or find a spot on their plate and then knock it off when they switch the fork to their right hand, also making a mess. It’s a tricky maneuver, beyond the dexterity of an old coot like me.

In Europe, the fork stays in the left hand, the knife in the right (for right handed people). They maneuver food from the plate to their pie hole with their left hand, using the knife to help load it onto the fork, often with the tines facing down, and the food transported on, what we would call, the wrong side of the fork. (I tried it and found I couldn’t do it.) Also, what do you do with peas? How can anyone balance them on a fork held in the “wrong” hand?

This is where being an old coot has some benefit. People don’t expect much of us. (And, we play that card as often as possible). We arm ourselves for battle, the fork in our left hand, the knife in the right, and go to war with that piece of meat. We cut it up all at once, send the knife into exile and eat in peace, just like we did when we were little kids and our mothers cut our meat for us. We’ll eventually end up with someone cutting up our meat again, so we might as well get a head start on eating the sensible way before it becomes a necessity.  

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