Fruit and vegetables
Hot asparagus is usually served with melted butter or hollandaise, cold asparagus with vinaigrette. Unless asparagus is a vegetable accompaniment to a dish, or covered in sauce, it should be eaten with the fingers. The asparagus spear should be picked up towards the blunt end of the stem, the budded tip dipped in any accompanying sauce and eaten bite by bite. There’s no need to chew through any tough, woody ends of the stems; they should be left neatly on the side of the plate.
The leaves of an artichoke should be peeled off one by one, starting with the outer leaves. Hold each leaf by its pointy tip and dip the rounded base in the butter or sauce. Eat just the tender, swollen base of each leaf, and leave the rest. Place discarded leaves on the side of the plate. When you reach the centre, the smaller leaves and hairy choke are cut away and discarded to reveal the heart which is cut into pieces and eaten with a knife and fork.
Do not pick individual grapes from a bunch. Use either the fingers, or grape scissors, to remove a small bunch.
A wedge of lemon usually accompanies fish or seafood. Squeeze the lemon against the tines of a fork, which channel the juice. Keep the lemon wedge low over the plate, cupping a hand around it while squeezing to avoid spraying neighbours. If serving segments of lemon make sure to remove all visible pips. Wedges are best but, if used, half-lemons may be served wrapped in muslin and squeezed with the fingers (without using the fork). Lemons to be used in tea or drinks should be pre-cut into small rounds and possibly then in half again and served on a side plate.
Usually consumed raw, but occasionally cooked, kumquats are eaten whole, including the skin. The top end may be cut off first.
At the dinner table, apples should be cut into quarters and the core removed from each piece. Then use fingers to eat the quarters. Elsewhere, just hold and crunch.
Either peel the orange by scoring the skin in four quarters with a knife, removing the skin, and then eating the segments. Or, if it is difficult to peel, treat a large orange like a grapefruit and cut it in half and eat with a teaspoon. Tangerines may be peeled and eaten with the fingers.
Serve strawberries hulled. Do not be tempted to think they look more attractive with the green left on as they are awkward for a diner to eat with a spoon and fork. If they are served as finger food, use a knife and cut the whole leafy end off.
Pips and Stones
Pips and stones should be discreetly spat into a cupped left hand and deposited on the side of the plate or discarded. Do not fiddle or play with plum or cherry stones.