Tine Tapping: Is it bad etiquette to pull food off the fork with your teeth?

Q:  While eating I occasionally glide my teeth instead of my lips over the fork. My husband can hear my teeth gliding over the fork and says that is very bad manners.  Is it bad manners to use your teeth to scrap food from the fork into your mouth?

A: It is not considered correct to make eating noises of any sort, whether of the “mmmmm-ing” variety or the “clanking” variety.  It is OK to use your teeth, and sometimes you have to, but when you do, you must do so quietly, with your teeth making contact with the food, not the fork.


  1. leohernan@yahoo.com

    After stirring my coffee I left the spoon in while I tried a sip….thinking that if it needs more stirring the spoon is already there. I was admonished severely that this was extremely rude, “That’s like blowing your nose on your napkin!”. I was told the “proper”way is to stir put the spoon back on table, sip and if it needs more stirring then pick up spoon again…and repeat.
    I found a new dinner partner but also want to know your take on this.

    • Winifred Rosenburg

      The reason it is customary to take the spoon out before drinking is to protect yourself from getting hit in the face with a spoon. I don’t know of a rule that says you must take the spoon out for a simple taste test. It was extremely rude of this person to admonish you.

  2. David

    Those of us, like yourself, with good table manners, can find passive – aggressive ways of showing our discomfort or disapproval with some aspect of the dining topic or partner. Audible teeth – pulling of food might be one we do, unconsciously. I have often done this.
    I was once seated next to a professor, whom I loathed, and later realized I continually asked him very interesting questions that he was anxious to answer, but only immediately after he’d filled his mouth with food. He then had to hurriedly chew and swallow in order to answer. This was terrible of me and I don’t condone the behaviour. But as I said, I wasn’t conscious of it at the time. We’re only human and not without expression, however tactful we are in social settings. I’d monitor just when you tend to do the teeth – pulling action, and with whom. Just a thought.

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