Keep your fork in the same hand
Obviously it’s easiest to cut food when the knife is in your dominant hand. After the food is cut, though, is where Americans and Brits differ. To keep eating with their stronger hand, Americans typically put down the knife, and put their food in the other hand to deliver that bite to their mouths. Brits, on the other hand (no pun intended), keep the fork on their non-dominant side when taking a bite. “It is efficient to dine and not have to do what I call the ‘zigzag’ style,” says international etiquette expert Sharon Schweitzer, founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. “When dining British style, you keep the knife and fork in your hands and don’t put it down unless you get something to drink or pick up a napkin to blot.” That way, they avoid the awkward silverware-switch between every mouthful. And if you’re planning on enjoying a meal across the pond, make sure you know what to call these foods that have totally different names in the U.S. and the U.K.
Only cut one bite at a time
To avoid that zigzag eating style, Americans sometimes cut up several pieces of meat before actually eating any. Then, once the fork is in the dominant hand, it’s easy to take a few bites without switching back. But cutting up multiple bites is bad manners, says Schweitzer. “That’s for children, when you’re three and four years old and your parents help cut your food,” she says. Your food will stay warmer if you keep it in one piece until you’re ready to eat each bite.
Lay your silverware down nicely
Where do you put your silverware when you’re done eating at a restaurant? In the United States, proper etiquette is to leave it diagonally on your plate, like the 10:20 position on a clock, says Schweitzer. The problem is, unlike in the United Kingdom, where practically everyone leaves utensils angled like the hour hand at 4:30, Americans tend to leave their forks and knives lying any which way. Every country has its own end-of-meal utensil placement etiquette—some leave them at an angle, while others leave straight up and down—and none is better than the other, says Schweitzer. Just make sure set your silverware in a spot that looks “done.” That way, a server and your fellow diners can tell you’re finished. If you think these British etiquette rules seem overly fancy, wait till you read the etiquette rules the British royal family has to follow.