At first glance, there do not seem to be many cultural differences between the British and Americans. After all, citizens from both nations speak basically the same language, and you cannot always tell apart a Brit from an American just by looking at them. But what about eating habits? Do the British and their American counterparts differ in the way they eat? If so, how? This article will look at some of the differences that set the two nations apart.
Use of the Knife and Fork
The British, along with the rest of Europe, make full use of their knives as well as their forks while eating. Forks are placed in the left hand and are held in place using the thumb, index and forefinger. The knife is then held in place in the right hand in the exact same manner. As the person is about to eat, they place the fork down so that the prongs are touching the plate and they then use the knife to push the food onto the back of the fork.
But it does not stop at just scooping one item onto the back of the fork. Vegetables, as well as meat, that are on the plate will be cut up into bite size pieces and will then also be scooped up along with the first item, so that each mouthful provides a combination of flavours. In the UK it is considered rude to place the fork in the right hand and to scoop the food onto the fork with the prongs facing up with the fork resting on the plate. When a Brit has finished eating, they will gather their knife and fork together and place them side by side in the middle of the plate to signal to waiters/ waitresses or relatives that they have finished eating.
On the other hand, American dining often involves using the knife a lot less than the British and the fork is generally held in the right hand to eat. Americans also eat pizza, chips (fries) and many other items with their fingers. This is done by the British too, but less so, as they prefer to use a knife and fork to eat most meals with, except for soup. This British eating practice is often viewed as rather formal by Americans.
An easy way to spot a British or American without listening to their different accents is to watch how they use their cutlery and how they season their food. Is the knife still placed firmly on the table? Are the prongs of a fork facing down? While an American may choose to add ketchup or mayonnaise to their chips (fries), a Brit will reach for the salt sellar, vinegar and possibly even some ketchup.
It is interesting to observe the different ways in which these two nationalities eat their meals. While the British consider it bad manners to eat with the fork placed in the right hand and without a knife, Americans view this practice as perfectly acceptable. It is just one of the ways in which the British and American cultures are essentially different. These differences can elicit amusing jokes and stories amongst friends!