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Philip Wolf: Thou shalt not use a fork to eat your french fries

OK, how many of you recoiled in horror at the mere sight of the photo accompanying this piece?
Is this the 'correct' first bite for this chocolate bar?

OK, how many of you recoiled in horror at the mere sight of the photo accompanying this piece?

Oh, the humanity. Who in their right mind eats a Kit Kat like that? One nasty chomp, ruining the glorious symmetry of it all. Very obviously, the “correct” method of eating said chocolate bar is to break it neatly into four pieces, then eat them individually.

Or is it?

A routine newsroom discussion last week sparked quite a debate on strange eating habits.

It started with fried chicken. A co-worker (note all names in this tale will be hidden to save them the embarrassment of having the world know about their wacky food fetishes) mentioned casually that she had ordered a truckload of chicken on the weekend for friends and family helping build a new deck.

I mentioned how I loved the skin on the chicken of the particular outlet in question, but not the desert-dry meat inside.

“If they let you order a box of the skin alone, the lineup would be around the block,” I reasoned.

This led to a discussion on how to properly eat fried chicken.

I’m a remover. Take off all the skin first and eat that, then pick away at the meat. Another lucky co-worker (our two-person chat had now attracted a crowd) said her children love the meat, but not the skin — leaving it all for her. Nice.

Yet another gal said she also takes off the skin first, but saves the delectable treat for last. We were all wrong, according to yet another roundtable participant, asserting the only proper way to eat fried chicken was the “normal” way, with a bite including both the skin and the meat.

With the chicken debate forever unsettled, we veered off into the world of fries.

“I hate it when people think they should eat fries with their fingers,” ventured one co-worker.

The stunned silence and withering looks from the rest of us told her how wrong she was.

Thou shalt not use a fork to eat your fries, even in a raised pinky finger restaurant.

“What about poutine?” chimed in another gal.

“Still wrong,” I said. “In that case, the correct method is to grab all of the ‘strays’ that you can with your fingers. Then, and only then, should you use your fork.”

(Others quickly rallied behind me here, so I claimed victory).

We shifted to chocolate bars, starting with the Kit Kat. Everyone agreed that eating it without some sort of separation was simply unacceptable. Breaking it into four (easier for sharing) was the most common method but we concluded that two wafers at a time were also OK. One big bite? A clear violation.

Side note: Why is it that I don’t like full-sized chocolate bars, but could eat a zillion of the minis doled out at Halloween?

Odd habits mentioned included sucking all the chocolate off a Crunchie bar (nasty), then finishing whatever you call the stuff that’s left; expertly gnawing off each layer of a Coffee Crisp and eating them separately (excellent); and cracking open a couple of Caramilk squares and attempting to ooze the caramel over the rest of the bar (weird).

Oreos were a contentious issue. Eat them whole? Always dip in milk? Peel off the top wafer and eat the inside? The office champ admitted to taking a bunch of Oreos, scraping the insides into a big pile, then eating the pile, discarding the wafers.

Disgusting? Or not?

Now, everyone has their own little food quirks. Particular ways of eating specific things. It’s a very personal issue.

Remember the old candy jingle? “When you eat your Smarties do you eat the red ones last...?”

One co-worker copped to (even in full-on adulthood) saving one of each colour, shaping them into a little rainbow and then eating them last. Awesome. I think.

I have a buddy who eats the entire apple, save the stem. Eats it like “regular” folk until he gets to the core, then eats that (seeds and all) in two hideous bites. It has disgusted me for 40 years. I have another friend who eats hot dogs starting with a bite in the middle. It infuriates me, for no good reason, other than it’s just so wrong.

I knew a girl who would only order pepperoni pizza.

When it arrived, she would dutifully take off every single piece of pepperoni, make them into little piles, eat the piles, and then finish the (just cheese) slices after that. Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs. (Mmm, Cocoa Puffs).

Another co-worker eats entire oranges, including the peel. I’m making faces as I type this, just thinking about that. Blech.

The tales were coming in fast and furious now. One husband who simply cannot have any of his food touching. A son who eats each food on his plate separately. First the peas (or whatever), then the potatoes, then the steak. Never a forkful of two different items. Another husband who takes a burrito, scoops out the inside, eats that... and then eats the tortilla separately. A grandpa who painstakingly makes a (hard-shell) taco in the “normal” way, then crushes it all up into a bowl and eats it like a taco salad. A guy who insists on eating burgers upside-down. A full-grown man who still dips his fries in his milkshake (I’m OK with that).

Do you roll up your pasta with a spoon? Cut your meat into identical-sized pieces, and chew each one 32 times? Do you eat your corn on the cob in circles, typewriter-style, or devour the whole thing like poor Michael Buble (Google it...)? Do you spread butter on said cob with a knife, or use the little picks to help you roll it in the butter? If you make a frozen waffle, do you lovingly fill up each little indentation with syrup, one by one? Does anyone, anywhere, actually like Vegemite (which I’m certain is actually collected toe jam)?

How about the people who insist on eating a pizza with a knife and fork? I could do a whole column just on those odd folks, who undoubtedly see the rest of us as Philistines.

How about weird combinations? Anyone who knows me can attest to the love my unrefined palate has for ketchup. Whatever you’ve got (even popcorn...), ketchup makes it better. It just does.

I mentioned that a couple of times, with no milk in sight, I have had Shreddies with a little water and some sugar.

“I’ve done that,” offered a co-worker. “It’s not bad.”

Also not bad? Fruit Loops with orange juice. Crumbled up Doritos on a burger. Peanut butter with potato chips. Mac and cheese mixed with baked beans and tuna.

I’d love to hear some of your own bizarre food stories. Does your husband coat everything in HP Sauce? Does your wife take one bite out of every donut?

Email them in and we’ll come up with a (food-related) prize for the most interesting one.

Philip Wolf

About the Author: Philip Wolf

I’ve been involved with journalism on Vancouver Island for more than 30 years, beginning as a teenage holiday fill-in at the old Cowichan News Leader.
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