eating etiquette (how to eat...)
What do you do with a dessert fork and spoon when you find them in your place setting? Depending on what you're eating, these utensils are often interchangeable.
Table manners for eating soft desserts. In general, eat custards and other very soft desserts with a spoon, using the fork for berries or any other garnishes. Cake, pie, or crepes being served ala mode - i.e., with ice cream - may be eaten with either or both of the utensils.
Table manners for eating firm desserts. For firmer desserts such as dense cakes or poached pears, switch the utensils - the fork for eating, the spoon for pushing and cutting.
Table manners for eating layer cake. When you're served layer cake with the slice upright, turn it on its side with a dessert fork and spoon or any other utensil that remains at your place. If all of the other utensils have been cleared, then do your best with your fork and the fingers of the other hand.
Visit our table manners main page for more general dining etiquette rules.
Sometimes general table manners rules do not address the challenges presented by certain hard-to-eat or unique foods.
This section provides table manners instruction for:
- ice cream
- petits fours
- plum pudding
- poached pears
- stewed fruit
- Mike Lininger, Editor, Etiquette Scholar
If you find any typographical errors, inaccuracies, or inconsistencies, or if you just have something to add, please email us.