Just as eating pizza with a knife and fork are controversial among Americans, so it is with eating burger with cutlery. The with-your-hands versus with-knife-and-fork factions have their valid arguments, and we can’t say that we haven’t tried the latter, especially when we’re trying to impress a somewhat snotty date. But there’s something ultimately satisfying about eating the largest burger at Bareburger with our hands – messily, if you must know – never mind the greasy fingers.
But the lighthearted debate isn’t just about personal preferences either. It’s also about dining etiquette, an important aspect when you’re eating at a restaurant where people will care whether you eat like an animal or a civilized person. Here’s our take on the matter but keep in mind that we aren’t as serious as you may think.
Go at it with Cutlery
There’s a good reason man invented cutlery – it’s a practical way to cut your food into bite-sized pieces. You want to give your teeth less of a workout and your mouth more of the flavors of the food. You also don’t want to fill your mouth with food so you can actually carry on a conversation while enjoying every bite.
This is particularly true when you’re tackling a humungous burger about six inches high and three inches wide. With the stiff competition in the burger-centric restaurant segment with everybody from McDonald’s to Gordon Ramsay having their take on the American classic, bigger seems to be better. In this case, using a knife and fork to cut down a giant burger to size, literally, makes perfect sense.
You can cut the burger into bite-sized pieces while also making sure that there’s a bit of everything in each bite – the soft bun that absorbed the juice from the meat, the lettuce, tomato and pickle, and the juicy meat grilled to perfection. You start by cutting the burger in half, an easier way to ensure that you can further cut it into smaller pieces.
But don’t cut the burger into bite-sized pieces in one go! You don’t have to deprive yourself since you can cut and eat as you go. As soon as you cut the burger in half, cut a large bite-sized piece, place it on your mouth, and savor the flavors. While your mouth is busy with the food, cut another piece so it’s ready to eat as soon as you swallow the first bite – and so and so forth until your giant burger is no more.
The best thing about eating a giant burger with cutlery: Look, Ma, no grease, no sauce and no mess on my hands! You may appear like a snob in front of the eat-with-your-hands customers but you will not be dealing with the mess either.
Basically, if you’re given a knife and fork in an upscale restaurant and you ordered the largest burger on the menu, then you should use the cutlery. You’re not trying to impress others, you’re just trying to be mindful of other people’s sensibilities – and that, my friends, is good manners at the table.
Go at it with Your Hands
But for Pete’s sake, if you’re eating a small burger, such as sliders from White Castle, that your hands can hold without the fillings spilling on the plate, then go at it with your hands. That’s what the paper wrapping is for.
What if it’s a truly large burger? Set aside the knife and fork, too! That is, if you can handle eating the entire burger while holding it in your hands the entire time, opening your mouth as wide as a hippo can, and getting as many of the burger’s ingredients in each bite. You may not be Patrick Starr but you can always try.
You may have to deal with a few issues about eating a humungous burger with your hands. The meat and vegetables can slide away from where you’re going to take a bite so you get more of the bun and less of the filling, for example. You can’t open your mouth like a hippo so you can’t actually get a clean bite, for another thing.
These are minor inconveniences, nonetheless, so you eat giant burgers with your hands anyway. There’s a certain sense of satisfaction, too, about diving into a burger like you’re the hungriest person in the world and you can’t wait to enjoy its scrumptious flavors.
You may even be happy about licking the juices, dressing, and grease from your fingers – and making satisfied grunts about it, too. Think of it as showing your appreciation to the chef for a job – and a burger – well done.
Whatever your choice in the matter, you will find that it’s acceptable in America because it’s a free country where tolerance is the norm, especially when it comes to burgers, hotdogs and the like. For as long as you enjoy the food, then go ahead and eat it.