“We’ve seen several people in the past few months use their fingers to push food onto their knife or fork at business meals,” she writes. “Several of them were attorneys!”
A fancy law degree doesn’t necessarily buy you class, but it’s disappointing to see that business professionals are letting themselves down by failing to practice good dining etiquette. Even a child is told not to play with their food, so why are these adults letting their manners lapse? Sloppy manners are a dead giveaway that you’re not as polished and sophisticated as you’d like people to think! Don’t you want your fellow diners to leave thinking about the great conversation you had, instead of the way you shoved food into your mouth?
Of course, there are some foods that do call for you to use your fingers. To help you step up your etiquette game, I’ve provided this little cheat sheet.
Burgers and sandwiches: Neatly slice the sandwich in half (or ask that it be prepared this way) and avoid oversaucing so that it doesn’t spill out the sides. Take modest bites and chew slowly.
Chips and dip: Hands are fine. Just don’t double-dip, or let your fingers touch the dip.
Hors d’oeuvres: Passed hors d’oeuvres are almost always eaten by hand, though I have seen a trend of spoons filled with, say, tuna tartare. Olives can also be eaten by hand, but if a toothpick is provided, use it.
Fruit: Berries are typically eaten with a spoon, while pineapple should be cut up with a knife and fork. For avocado, use a spoon if it is still in its shell, and a fork if it’s sliced.
Oysters on the half shell: Hold the shell in your left hand and use an oyster fork to lift the oyster out.
Asparagus: Technically it is okay to eat a spear with your fingers, but unless the host or hostess eats it this way, I recommend using a knife and fork.
If you happen to be attending a cocktail party or business meal and find yourself unsure about the proper etiquette, just observe what everyone else is doing. Sometimes that’s the easiest way to learn!