Those of you from the Philippines, Thailand or Singapore are familiar with the “spoon and fork” style of eating. The fork goes in the left hand, spoon in the right. The spoon can be used as a cutting implement, and the fork is used to push the food into the spoon which then goes in the mouth. It’s perfect for dishes served with sauces and rice.
I just got sent a link (thanks, Daejin!) to a story about a seven-year-old Montreal area boy who’s being punished for eating at school Filipino style:
Luc Cagadoc’s table behaviour is traditionally Filipino; he fills his spoon by pushing the food on his plate with a fork, his mother, Maria Theresa Gallardo, says.
But after being punished by his school’s lunch program monitor more than 10 times this year for his mealtime conduct — including his technique — the seven-year-old told Gallardo said last week that he was too embarrassed to eat his dinner.
When he eats with both a spoon and fork, instead of only one utensil, the Grade 2 student said the lunch monitor moves him to a table to sit by himself.
Upset over Luc’s story, Gallardo confronted the lunchtime caregiver the next day and on April 13, she telephoned the school’s principal, Normand Bergeron. His reaction brought her to tears, she says. “His response was shocking to me,” Gallardo, who moved to Montreal from the Philippines in 1999, told The Chronicle. “He said, ‘Madame, you are in Canada. Here in Canada you should eat the way Canadians eat.”
She disagrees with the lunch monitor’s approach to teaching children how to eat and says it is emotionally abusive to Luc. When she questioned Bergeron about punishing students for their table habits, she says he replied that, “If your son eats like a pig he has to go to another table because this is the way we do it and how we’re going to do it every time.”
I myself tend to use the etiquette that’s appropriate to the situation. I use the Filipino fork-and-spoon method at Sunday dinner with the family, the knife-and-fork method when dining with “The Man”, use my chopsticks as both eating and serving utensils at dim sum . Depending on the situation, I eat pizza with either a knife and fork or my hands. I think that Luc should learn a number of eating styles for all situations, but I don’t think that the fork-and-spoon method is so offensive that he should be punished for it.
To my mind, it’s another case of intolerance married to Quebec “for me but not for thee” cultural insecurity, where they whine about being Francophones drowning in an Anglophone sea, and then turn around and pull this kind of nonsense.