Monday, May 20, 2013


By Fredric A. Press

Apropos of nothing in particular, do you or don’t you eat your asparagus with your fingers?  Over the weekend, my wife and I had two separate occasions to discuss the weighty topic of the etiquette of eating asparagus with your fingers. While the consensus was "only when it's a crudité," as is often the case, the consensus was wrong! According to Miss Manners (and lots of others if you Google the question) asparagus is correctly eaten with the fingers.

Miss Manners tells that it’s so[1]:

The other night at the dinner table, my eight-year-old son started to eat his asparagus with his fingers. When I brought this to his attention, my wife informed me that it is considered good manners to eat this with the fingers. Good etiquette tells me you don't use the fingers for this vegetable.

Miss Manners tells you that you do. Asparagus is, indeed, correctly eaten with the fingers, in a very old tradition of which few modern people seem aware. Those who do know can have a marvelous time doing this in company or in restaurants and being reprimanded or at least stared at, only to have the disapproving people find out later that they were in the wrong. What Miss Manners wonders is how an eight-year-old boy found out about this. Would he like to meet a refined Victorian lady?

But, as Emily Post pointed out back in 1922:

Although asparagus may be taken in the fingers, don’t take a long drooping stalk, hold it up in the air and catch the end of it in your mouth like a fish.

Also, using fingers is a “no no” if the asparagus is sauced or dripping with butter or cooked to death so that it resembles a limp...oh, never mind.

[1] Quoted at

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