Depending on where you’re from, you have most likely spent your whole life setting a table with your flatware either facing up or facing down. But which is correct?
Well, if you are dining American-style, you are probably accustomed to setting a table with the utensils face up. This is due to the American way of eating where you hold your fork tines up. This style of eating involves holding your fork in your left hand, knife in right, and cutting a bite-sized piece of food. You then put your knife down (on your plate, of course) and switch your fork to your right hand to eat. This is also known, for very good reasons, as the zig-zag style of eating.
Now, if you are from England or any European countries, you may have noticed at some time or another, a table setting with flatware face down. There are a few reasons for this. The first and most obvious, is that the European-style of dining involves keeping your fork in your left hand, tines down, and then bringing your food directly to your mouth maintaining the tines in a downward position. A second reason for this placement is that the least amount of surface area on the flatware touches the table. This is viewed as much more hygienic. A third and final reason for tines down is that around the 20th century, tines up was viewed as threatening and disrespectful. If you have ever seen flatware that is engraved or embellished on the back, it is because of this custom of place setting.
No matter which way that you choose to set your table, as long as you are consistent, you are correct!
Please share your experiences and preferences with seating your own table “tines up” or “tines down” and make sure to follow me so that you never miss an article!