Replay: So do I have no Manners or is it Cultural?

With settling into our place and an unknown internet situation I decided to do a replay of some old posts.

I hope you enjoy them and should be back to normal blogging soon!

This post I think has created the most varied comments and receives the most search hits I think of any other post!

So Do I Have No Manners or Is It Cultural?

Originally posted: March 27, 2012


Last Friday night we met up with friends for happy hour, or after work as it is called in Sweden, at the new hot spot in town Satan i Gatan. We were only having drinks but many people were ordering food and while I was lusting after the burgers the three guys next to us ordered I noticed something that I found strange. Being the nice person I am I leaned over and whispered to my friend in my quietest but meaningful voice “Look they are eating their hamburgers with a fork and knife, how weird”. She leaned around me looked at them and responded “I think that is perfectly normal and do it myself” in her I sound very fancy British accent.

I first blanched at the thought I was being rude and then quickly thought no eating a hamburger with a fork and knife is just plain old weird so I started to defend myself. I first asked my husband and he said he agreeded that hamburgers are just pick up and eat food and then he asked the table if they used a fork and knife at McDonalds. Everyone, it was the British girl and two Swedish guys, said no they do not but at a bar like we were at it would be rude. Their reasoning was what if you got food on your face it would be revolting to those around you and I said that is what napkins are for, you would not just sit there with food on your face the whole night.

Then the British women/Swedish man couple said they went to a restaurant once with a British man/Swedish women couple and the man ordered ribs and they were disgusted that he picked them up and ate them with his hands at the restaurant. This left me even more confused for two reasons, one being how else do you eat ribs and two that it must not be a universal British thing then so was it just her Swedish immersion that she now thought this was wrong. So I then asked how she ate ribs and she said well obviously with a fork and knife and further more she would even eat chicken wings with a fork and knife!

Ok please tell me how you eat wings with a fork and knife because I am pretty sure it cannot be done!

After that I started to feel that the general consensus with them was that I was just a rude American eating in public with my hands and did not want to push the topic further lest I get angry and give them real reason to raise their eyebrows at me.

I just cannot stop thinking about it though, I would obviously not eat pasta or salad with my hands but I think some foods wether in public or not you have full license to use your hands.

So tell me do I just not have any manners or is it a cultural thing?

(The whole time I was writing this post this picture kept popping into my head)

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5 thoughts on “Replay: So do I have no Manners or is it Cultural?

  1. Your question is asked wrongly, those two are not mutually exclusive. Yes it’s a cultural thing, and no you have no manners here in Sweden. In the US you do, since different things are considered rude in different places.

    Hamburgers are usually only eating with your hand at fast food places like McDonalds, not at “real” restaurants. And would you eat those messy chicken wings with your hands!? Eww, that would not be appreciated anywhere if you’re not alone or in your own home with your family (if they think it’s OK).

    But that’s just the way it is, different things are rude in different places, just remeber to switch to what works where you are! :) . (And pretty much all kinds of food can be eaten with knife and fork with a little practice.)

  2. I honestly would see no point in eating chicken wings, if you had to use a fork. /shrug.

    I can see cutting a cheeseburger in half or fourths with a knife, to make it LESS messy while eating it, but again…I wouldn’t eat one if I had to use a fork.

    All seems pointless. Those are two foods you eat with your hands.

    Maybe I am also just rude?

  3. I sort of agree with liv – but you know, I think it really depends on who you are with. This post at the time made me really think, and start a debate among my friends. We discovered that about 30% of us would eat with their hands, the rest of us (UK) with knives and forks.

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