I received a bunch of really nice etiquette books for Christmas from Benny and my mom, so hopefully I’ll be better about posting etiquette & superstition tips in 2010. Miss Manners, of course, is the wittiest author on the subject of “real” etiquette, so I’m glad to be re-acquainted with her notes on such subjects as fruit.
“Fruit occupies the place in the food world that the ingenue does in society. That is, it is usually fresh (but occasionally stewed) and, although welcome anywhere for its charm and implicity, it requires more complicated treatment when going about socially than it does when it is just hanging around the house.”
She goes on to note that it is recommended that before eating, one should make sure everything is rinsed well and that permission has been obtained from the owner. Fnar, fnar, Miss Manners. I love you.
ETIQUETTE: At a formal dinner, the presence of grape scissors near the grapes will guarantee that you are expected to eat and not just admire the grapes. If you are not sure if you are at a formal dinner or not, ask the host/hostess for a pair of scissors while looking meaningfully at the centerpiece. If he/she grants your wish immediately, you are at a formal dinner party and may eat the grapes. Take the grape scissors and cut off a small bunch of grapes. If he/she looks at you in alarm at the request and does not provide you with scissors, you are at a formal dinner party but may not eat the grapes, or you are at an informal dinner party and may eat the grapes. If he/she looks at you in alarm but provides you with scissors, you may want to retire to the bathroom with the scissors after receiving them, and then return them with a simple, “Thank you.” Don’t eat the grapes.
SUPERSTITION: On New Year’s Eve, each person at the party should make a cone out of newspaper and place twelve white (green okay too) grapes in his/her cone. Then, in each of the twelve seconds before midnight, he/she must eat one grape. Whoever eats twelve grapes by midnight in this fashion will have luck for the rest of the year, provided he/she hasn’t choked on the grapes.*