13 foods you could be eating wrong

Why does something so primal as eating have to be so darned complicated? Well, it really can be. Sometimes it’s a function of silly old etiquette rules (although these legit dinner party etiquette rules are guaranteed to ingratiate you to your hosts) or it’s nothing more than a lapse in common sense that created such unworkable customs as peeling your banana from the stem or sticking your fingers into pomegranates to get the seeds out (here’s the right way to cut and serve pomegranates). Whatever the cause, we’ve got all the hacks you need right here.

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14 foods you could be eating wrong
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14 foods you could be eating wrong

Soup

If you think about it, the way most of us eat soup is just a recipe for dribbles. The proper way to do it is to place the spoon in the bowl at the far side of the bowl with the bowl of the spoon facing you, scoop the spoon toward you, bring it to your mouth and sip (not slurp). If the soup is served in a cup with handles, you may bring it to your lips like a two-handled tea-cup. Give this a try with one of these classic recipes.

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Ribs

Don’t worry—you don’t need to use a fork. Fingers are perfectly acceptable for eating ribs, just be sure to hold them by their bony edge and to take smaller bites. Make sure you’ve got a napkin close by to keep the mess under control, but know that there will be at least somewhat of a mess. It’s simply inevitable. Make sure you don't believe these food myths that are wildly untrue.

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Shrimp cocktail

Shrimp cocktail can make any meal feel kind of fancy, and yet two general rules go out the window when partaking. The first is the rule against double-dipping. The shrimp cocktail sauce on your plate is yours to double dip, so dip away! The second is the rule against not cutting your food; but when shrimp is served upright, it is almost impossible to cut with a knife, so it’s OK to spear it with a fork and eat it one bite at a time.

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Artichokes

Artichokes can seem intimidating—even the California Artichoke Board admits this. Using your hands, pull off a petal, dip it into the accompanying sauce, and pull through your teeth to remove the soft pulp. Place what remains of the petal to the side of your plate—don’t eat it all! Continue until all petals have been removed. Spoon out the fuzzy center and place to the side of your plate. Cut what remains (the heart) into small pieces with a knife and fork.

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New York-style pizza

When it comes to New York-style pizza (as opposed to Chicago deep-dish), eating it with your hands is the only acceptable method of food delivery, particularly if you’re in New York. You don’t have to fold it in half, but if there are lots of gooey toppings or some danger that the toppings may topple as you lift the slice, then please go ahead and fold that slice.

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Eclairs

An eclair may look like finger food, but it’s not. It should be eaten with a knife and fork, according to Etiquette Scholar. Be gentle so the filling doesn’t squirt everywhere. If you’re so inclined, make eclairs at home! (We won’t tell if you eat them with your hands in the privacy of your own home).

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Soft-boiled eggs

When a soft-cooked (soft-boiled) egg is served in an eggcup, the pointed end should be in the cup, and you should crack the shell with a knife in a swift horizontal movement. Then lift the shell using the tip of your knife and place it alongside the plate. Dip your spoon into the egg and sprinkle seasonings (like salt and pepper) over each individual spoonful. Here’s your how-to-cook-an-egg-perfectly guide.

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Cupcakes

While it’s perfectly acceptable to eat a cupcake exactly as it’s served, some find it a bit cumbersome to bite right into a mound of frosting. For when you’re seated a table, it’s perfectly acceptable to slice it in half horizontally and turn the icing upside down to create a mini layer-cake cupcake-eating-experience.

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Chinese takeout

The takeout containers are meant to be your plates! Break down the containers right around your food and eat with chopsticks. Cleanup will be minimal, and isn’t that one of the main benefits of doing takeout? If you want to make your own Chinese home-cooking, then check these Chinese takeout fakeout recipes.

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Sushi

There are a handful of rules when you’re eating sushi and all its accompaniments. First, you can eat it in one bite. Some sushi—nigiri, where a slice of fish is placed on a mound of rice—should be eaten, fish side down, with your fingers. But do use chopsticks for sashimi.

Other notes: The pickled ginger doesn’t go on top of your sushi. This is meant to be a palate cleanser to eat between bites. Also, if you’re a fan of soy sauce, dip your sushi on the fish side (not the rice). Don't miss these other foods you've probably been eating wrong this whole time.

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Peas

Some say that mushing peas is far preferable to chasing these little babies around your plate. Etiquette experts say “no” to that. Instead, use your knife to pile them onto your fork, held tines-up, or use the tines of your fork to spear a few peas at a time. Watch out for these kitchen mistakes you're probably making.

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Burgers

If it’s served on a bun and wrapped in some kind of wrapping (foil or parchment or the like), then eat it whole, with your fingers. If it’s served unwrapped but on a bun, you may feel free to slice it in half vertically, but don’t feel obligated. Only if it’s served without a bun should you eat it with a knife and fork. Check out these brilliant burger recipes.

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Strawberries

If they’re served whole, then feel free to use your fingers. Eat up to the stem and discard. If the strawberries are sliced, or served with any sauce or cream, then eat with a fork or spoon. Now that you know how to eat everything from artichokes to strawberries, learn which cooking mistakes you should avoid.

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