Experience Life Magazine

How to Use a Fork and Knife (Video)

Experience Life editor in chief Pilar Gerasimo shares fork and knife tips for eating real food.

In a time when many foods are bite-size and can be eaten by just popping them in your mouth — no cutting required — many people don’t know the right way to eat real food with a fork and knife. Here, Pilar Gerasimo demonstrates the technique she learned from her host family when she was studying abroad in France. Bon appétit!

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10 Comment to How to Use a Fork and Knife (Video)

  • Martha says:

    Dear Barbara,
    I actually thought one can still eat the meal using the left hand rather than moving it back to the right hand before eating. this is a bit difficult but i’m going to practice it. Is this the only way to do it?

  • It was enlighting to read about how to use a knife and fork. As the result of medicial conditions I have learn to eat with both hands. The fork stays in the left hand, tines up, held like a pen. I have been able to develop the skill to use the knife with the right hand with finger along side, not on top, have not cut myself. When the spoon is needed the right hand does a fairly good of not spilling the cereal or soup. The knife helps with stopping the peas and etc from rolling off the plate. With this method I do not use the zig-zag style and is very easy to use.
    It is a very efficient way of eating.

  • AJ says:

    Hi, thanks for your video, as an American and a Muslim, I thought that it is polite to eat with my right hand.
    Teachings of the Prophet Mohamed :

    On Eating and Drinking
    “The blessing of food is (received by) washing (the hands) before and washing (the hands) after (taking) it.” (Tirmidhi)

    “When anyone of you eats, he should invoke the name of Almighty, The Exalted. If he forgets to invoke the name of The Almighty, at the beginning, he should say (when he does remember): “In the name of The Almighty, in its beginning and its and end.” (Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi)

    when he finished his meal, used to say: “Praise be to The Almighty, who gave us to eat and to drink and made us Muslims.”

    Also 1400 years ago the Messenger Mohamed said to one of his student: ‘Invoke the name of The Almighty and eat with your right (hand) and eat what is near you.’

  • dorit says:

    Dear Pilar,

    you must have been with a very low class french famille. It is absolutely bad manners to eat a salad with knife and fork. You only use knife and fork if you have something to cut on your plate. Salad is never to be cut!
    Second it is awful to put food on the back of a knife. You turn your fork and shove the food with the knife onto it. I recognize Americans at once by their inability to follow eating etiquette. One more thing, never have a hand under the table while eating. Both hands must be visible even if you eat a soup, salad or stew which require only one utensil. Btw sandwiches and pizzas are eaten with knife and fork as well as they require cutting. There a very few foods to be eaten by hand like some seafood and whole cooked artichoke. Some foods are eaten differently in different countries in Europe. Just ask the people you dine with how to eat stuff, that’s so much better than just trying something. In Europe manners, education and upbringing are much more the defining element for social class than money. A rich person who has no table manners would never make it into polite society.

    • AHarvey says:

      @ dorit,

      On the contrary, the author does not claim to be from a French family, “low class” or otherwise. She clearly explains during the introduction that she is an American who stayed with a French family as a college student for a brief period. Being polite and expressing yourself without being unpleasant, arrogant or simply, embarrassingly in error are also traits of a well-educated person possessing sophistication as is the use of correct punctuation and grammer.

  • Gerben says:

    … the french and the american peoples are, really, really bad at eating with knife and fork, I shall eagerly await the video instructing people in eating spaghetti with just a fork.

    I like to laugh at things you see.

  • Pilar Gerasimo says:

    I wanted to share this technique because, for me, it proved really helpful and dramatically increased my pleasure in eating. Granted, it’s not for everyone — and as I note in the video, there are certainly other good ways to eat with a knife and fork! I just think this approach happens to be efficient, elegant and easy to master, and it’s considered acceptable most places in the world.

    I was also really struck by the hypothesis of one of the experts in our “Dark Side of Food Science” article (Oct. 2010) that part of the reason many Americans prefer hand held processed foods and avoid healthier real foods (including salads, meat on the bone, etc.) may be that they find eating with a knife and fork kind of awkward or intimidating, particularly in public. It’s one of those hidden barriers to healthy eating that we just don’t stop to think about.

    I realize that for folks who have never experienced a challenge in this area, tips on “how to use a knife and fork” may SEEM kind of remedial, but for many, it’s a real area of doubt and social anxiety — and for someone who is trying to move up the career ladder, it can even be a professional impediment.

    In her book, Women, Work and the Art of Savoir Faire, Mireille Guiliano (author of French Women Don’t Get Fat) remarks what she sees as a regrettable lack of American table manners — to the extent that in the company she runs (Veuve Cliquot), they actually offer an etiquette class for employees that includes the proper use of silverware. My point is, it’s a more widespread problem than most of us probably think. And a lot of us are probably walking around thinking our technique is fine, not realizing that there is a better and (arguably) more socially gracious way.

    Incidentally, in case you haven’t read any of her books, Guiliano is really cool woman with a lot of life wisdom to share. Here’s a fun video of her on the Today Show (it’s a cooking clip, but at the end, during the tasting bit, you’ll note both hosts use something approximating this fork-and-knife technique): http://mireilleguiliano.com/content/mireille-cooks-on-nbcs-today-show.

    As an aside, also note how quickly Guiliano nixes the idea of calorie counting when Kathie Lee Gifford asks about the count for the dish she is preparing. I love that.

    Anyway, if this technique works for you, terrific, and if it doesn’t, happy eating however you choose to eat!

  • Jonpaul Okal says:

    Have we seriously reached a point in our society where adults need to be instructed on how to use a knife and fork? In the related article, it’s noted that “many otherwise civilized adults aren’t confident in knife and fork techniques which may incline them towards bite-sized hand-held and nuggetized foods…”

    This isn’t preparing puffer fish for fugu, katsuramuki, or breaking down whole fish and/or animals into portion sized pieces. It’s not garde manger garnish work where you’re creating scenes on a platter out of food. Those are “knife techniques” that many otherwise civilized adults may not be comfortable or confident with.

    This is cutting food to bite sized pieces and conveying it to your mouth.

    Please add to the instructional video that the food is to be conveyed and inserted into the MOUTH, and not the eyes, ears, nostrils, or any other orifice in the head. This is not clearly articulated in the video instructions and some otherwise civilized adults may not be confident in which orifice they should insert their food.

  • Alice Berman says:

    Sorry. Very disappointing to hear only the European style of fork/knife use. Eating off the back of the fork is not, in my view, graceful, classy or proper. Disparaging the idea of changing hands doesn’t help. The way it’s done is this: hold the fork in the left hand, tines down as mentioned. Cut with the knife in the right hand. Then, put down the knife across the back of the plate. It isn’t noisy, and the silverware will NOT fall on the floor. Then move the fork, with the food, to the right hand, turning the tines curving up. Eat. Move the fork back to the left hand, tines down, and pick up the knife with the right hand (the handle will already be facing the right). Repeat. I wouldn’t use these utensils any other way.

  • Barbara Asakti says:

    This seems like a no-brainer…but I never “learned” how to eat with a knife & fork. I actually avoid ordering salads. I’m all thumbs when I attempt it, so this was a really useful little tutorial. Thanks!

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