Post by Robert E. Lewis Post by J***@YAHOO.COM
While I know you should never eat peas with a knife I have known a few
people who do. All were fairly well educated men all born in the 1890s
just in case this has anything to do with anything. Was this ever
considered good manners?.
I eat my peas with honey,
I've done it all my life.
It makes the peas taste funny,
But it keeps them on my knife.
A rhyme my mother used to tell, not sure where she heard it, but it
suggests using the knife was more common once, unless the fact the
person needing to make the peas stick to his knife is part of the humor
of the rhyme.
In many parts of Europe, [right-handed] folks eat with their fork in
their left hand, knife in their right; they cut the food, then use the
fork in its left-hand position to move it to their mouths.
In the USA, the common practice is to cut knife-in-right, but then set
down one's silverware, transfer the fork to the right hand, then eat
with the right.
* PURE SPECULATION ALERT *
It's easy to imagine that, as our culture developed, there was a "cross
over" time, when people with one set of habits were trying to learn
another set of habits and, intentionally or not, would end up spearing
or scooping their food with their knife in the right hand. It's also
fairly easy to see how something small & round, like peas, would be
rather difficult -- perhaps to the point of light table comedy -- to eat
with a modern butter-knife.
From there, it's just a hop, skip and a jump to imagine a fresh (for the
day) pithy expression "like trying to eat peas with a knife", and a
generation of children feeling that they had to try it, just because
their parents told them not to. From there, you get a certain group of
people who particularly pride themselves on being able to eat peas with
a knife (largely because they interpret the expression to mean "doing
something very difficult", rather than "doing things the hard way, when
a simpler way is obvious") and, viola! the rest is history.
...Or it could be; as I said, this is all speculation.
Still, it's easy to imagine that something similar to that is what
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