As people who follow or at least read this blog are aware, I'm an admirer of Debrett's, "the" guide to everything etiquette. Advice on the 'how-to's" ranging from planning a wedding reception, decorum when meeting and out and about royalty, holiday deportment... basically a guide on the correct way to conduct oneself.
Periodically, it's good to check in with Debrett's for any updates or changes to their offerings. I mean, one should always be prepared in case an opportunity to meet-and-greet or dine with royalty. It wouldn't be acceptable for a social faux pas denoting a lack of savoir faire when it comes to politesse. Feeling very french today. But I digress.
It is for this very reason that a visual cyber consultation was in order lest one make a blunder in etiquette. Being that I'm not a fan of shell fish and my philosophy is this regard is not to eat a food that stares back at you and requires the wearing of a bib, never noted the section focusing on the consuming of these helpless, gourmet food items. According to the guide and to allow easy access to the flesh, it would be acceptable to use one's fork while holding a/the shell steady with one hand in order to make the task easier. A lobster cracker may be required to remove flesh from the large claws. According to wisegeek.com, a lobster cracker is a kitchen tool designed to help people crack open lobsters. Furthermore, "lobster crackers can also be used on crabs and some nuts as well." One assumes they're referring to the crustacean kind and not the human type.
Having eaten shell fish perhaps twice maybe four times in my life, the arrival of the/a crustacean on a plate with its black eyes staring into mine is just to emotionally overwhelming, especially the sound of cracking shells. Guilt thy name is Eleanor.
There is also a section devoted to the preparation and enjoyment of sushi. Debrett's is like... so up-to-date on all the latest food favorites. In as far as this popular delicacy is concerned, raw fish doesn't do it for me although the vegetable sushi is acceptable. Its (sushi) texture on my tongue causes an instantaneous ejection of the consumed particle, if you get my drift. Back to the how-to's of eating, soy sauce should be poured into a saucer (or dish/whatever receptacle is on hand for this purpose) and mix in some wasabi. Debrett's advises that it is socially acceptable and even polite to pour some for your dining partner. Go figure!
"Wasabi my dear?"
"How nice of you to ask. Of course. What exactly is wasabi?"
"The partner for sushi. Here - let me pour for you. Say when."
The way to proceed is to dip sashimi or sliced raw fish, into the sauce with chopsticks and then enjoy. Never mastered the art of using chopsticks but they have a section covering the how-to's of mastering this art. It seems that "sushi rolls and nigiri (blocks of rice with fish on top) should be eaten whole; attempting to bite in two can lead to a scattering of debris across the table."
This leads one - me - pondering the acceptable form of collecting sushi debris from a table. Does one or should one attempt to pick it up with chopsticks, or is a fork acceptable? What about the use of fingers, which would ideally handle the task? Is a verbal apology acceptable or does one smile and concern oneself with the task of removing said sushi debris? These are important questions, people!
In any case and just in case sushi aficenados feel so inclined, came across a site that will help in the step-by-step creation of sushi specialties: http://www.pbs.org/food/fresh-tastes/how-to-make-sushi-with-step-by-step-breakdown/ This leads one - me - to ponder as to the best means in which to eliminate the post-sushi taste and odor following a sushi session.
In as far as learning the art of holding chopsticks, the thumb and forefinger manipulates the top of the stick while the middle finger rests between the sticks, while the bottom stick is motionless. It is the top stick manoeuvered by the thumb and forefinger that is used to grip the food and carry it up to one's mouth. Easier said or written than actually accomplished. Having never mastered this art, my philosophy is a fork handles the job so much easier - and neater. I mean, why torture oneself to manipulate sticks when cutlery is designed for this purpose? Debrett's concludes this subject with the advice never to use chopsticks to pass food to people (when you can pick up the food in the first place) and never use them to point at people. A finger is okay for this purpose but not chopsticks one presumes. Chopstick pointing could be dangerous or something.
Nothing fishy when it comes to Debrett's.
NEXT BLOG: We'll be examining how to eat canapes, oysters and caviar and later on, the art of eating spaghetti, and eating soup