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Dining Dilemmas: What the Hell Do I Do With All These Utensils?

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LAist will tackle some issues regarding dining, etiquette, tipping, etc. The information is compiled from etiquette classes, books, newspaper articles, and experience. Any and all questions can go in the comments section. Part 1 can be found here.

Have you ever gone to a restaurant or reception where they give you a fork, a spoon, a knife, and a glass, except there are three or four of each? Why and how did we even decide on what to use and when to use them? Hundreds of years ago, European traders dealt with tribes in Africa, South America, and Asia for trade and commerce. These tribes often ate food with two or three fingers from their right hand, which prevented the spread of diseases, viruses, and illnesses. Most Europeans at the time were eating with their hands and knives, and garnered a reputation as barbarians (funny how that works, since the Europeans regarded the others as barbarians and uncivilized). In order to present themselves in a more appealing manner, Europeans tried to incorporate utensils into their meals as well. Most could not use chopsticks (we'll save that for another entry), introduced blunt knives to the table (which were less threatening), and discovered a very practical utensil called the fork somewhere in Italy. Silverware made its way into the homes of many after the Industrial Revolution and that is where common plating and setting techniques were developed, most of which remain the same even today.

The actual etiquette for each utensil is very detailed and not very practical for most dining in Los Angeles, so we will only go into the very basics. The easiest rule to remember is the "outtie-innie" rule for utensils. We work our way from the outermost utensils and work our way in. Occasionally you will go to a restaurant where they redo the plating for each course, but usually they will only replace the plate and remove the silverware used. Common rules dictate that you usually won't see more than three forks, three knives, four glasses, and the additional plate/utensils required for the bread and butter, and dessert..

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