Tag Archives: ettiquette

Silver Spoon Specialists | Do you eat from the front or sidesaddle?

Last week we took a look at the Continental vs. American style of using a knife and fork in the post Cutlery Conventions and I promised Suzanne Sokolov that I would take a look at the silver spoon this week.

Silver Spoon

An array of spoon sizes - table to demitasse.

Silver spoon sizes

Before we get into the actual process of how we use our spoons, lets take a look at a few different examples.  In this photo from left to right we have:

  • English Georgian tablespoon
  • place spoon
  • large gumbo spoon
  • teaspoon
  • bouillon spoon
  • chocolate spoon
  • demitasse spoon
With the exception of the tablespoon, all of these are American.  Note the huge difference in sizes, with the tablespoon towering over all the others.

Silver spoon uses

Many of my American guests and clients are very surprised to see that I am quite happy to use a tablespoon for just about everything but dessert and stirring a drink.  Compare it to the place spoon immediately to the right.  The place spoon is it’s American counterpart, and when ‘lacking’ (and please note I do use quotation marks) the ‘proper’ (again, please note the punctuation) spoon this would be the appropriate fill-in.  The tablespoon is much larger in comparison, with a longer handle and a bowl that is close to twice as big.

As I have all the others I do use them, but to me a tablespoon is the all-purpose eating spoon. Suzanne S sent me a tweet after reading last week’s post saying –

Silver Spoons


Silver spoon styles

silver spoon

The points at which food exits the food to enter the mouth.

Now we come to the actual handing of spoons.  Just as there is  the two-handed and zig-zag method of using a knife and fork which divides fairly neatly along geographical lines, so there is a similar distinction with spoons.

When using my gigantic tablespoon (or any spoon) I don’t eat from the front, but put the side up to my mouth and then tilt the spoon to transfer the food into my mouth.  In contrast, Mr. Magpies uses the front of the spoon as the point of transfer.

From years of observation, it seems to me that ‘front to mouth’ is a common style in the US.

Which method is ‘correct’?

I suspect that the sidesaddle method is used in England, because those tablespoons – which are the ‘normal’ size – are simply too big to easily use the front.

While I mainly see ‘front to mouth’ in the US, perhaps I’m seeing a strange aberration from the norm and sidesaddle is more common?

I don’t know.

In contrast to the knife and fork debate in which I found plenty of articles and sources ready to weigh in, I can’t seem to find anything very satisfying explaining the spoon phenomenon.

There is a brief mention on Wikipedia’s table manners entry noting that in the UK soup is sipped from the side of the spoon not the end, but nothing about US customs.

Please weigh in with your experiences.


Do you find the tablespoon to be strangely huge? 🙂