Using "the Fence" to Eat Every Bite

What do you do when you have just one or two more bites on your plate, but you can’t get the delicious morsels onto your fork?

Do you use your fingers?  (Please don’t.)

Let “the fence” help you!

The fence is a technique used to help you get the last bites of goodness from your plate to your mouth.  (It is not part of either dining style, but it definitely solves problems if you happen to be using American style.) 

Let "The Fence" Work for You


You recognize toward the end of the course that you need help with the little food items you very much want to eat, resisting the temptation to use your fingers.


Place the knife in your left hand.  (The only time you will place a knife in your left hand.)


Position the knife on the plate, blade down, about an inch or so up from the bottom of the plate and parallel to the edge of the table.  This is very important, as this position is the starting and ending position for the technique. The knife doesn't move!


With your fork in your right hand, move or push the difficult seeds, rice, whatever, against the firm fence that you’ve formed with your knife.  And now you have another bite to enjoy.

Leave your knife in this position long enough to get all the remaining food you want, but remember to put your knife back at the top of your plate when dining American style.  

If you tend to dine Continental style, the fence may feel a bit clumsy.  But you can also attempt another version of the technique keeping the knife in your right hand. 

I call this “the barricade.”


You have those last few bites that you very much want to eat, and you are resisting the temptation to use your fingers.  Since you’re dining Continental style, the knife remains in your right hand, and the fork in your left hand.


Position the knife on the plate, blade down, and above the food.


Either load the back of your fork, or pierce the delicious morsels, and eat.

Unlike having the fork in your right hand where it is able to scoop the food, in traditional Continental style your left hand moves the fork to your mouth with the tines pointed downward.  You may not be able to retrieve all the food from your plate, but perhaps can enjoy a little more.

Many students in my dining classes list the fence as a favorite thing learned.  And when you are enjoying a scrumptious meal, you want to get every bite!  The fence (and many times, the barricade) allows you those last few bites while maintaining your table manners.

Bon appetit!

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