I Eat My Peas With Honey

Young people who encounter the whole Ogden Nash ditty may wonder at the conclusion, that the honey serves to keep the peas on the knife. Whoever eats peas with a knife, they may ask? We eat them with a fork, scooping them up with the concave side. That is certainly what I do, as I am a one-handed eater whenever possible. I use the other hand for my book.

If I remember my own boyhood correctly, however, we were obliged to eat peas with the convex side, that is, the back of the fork. This is even harder than eating peas with a knife, indeed doomed to failure. Which was the whole point of such social rules. They were a less good-natured version of certain kinds of Japanese game-show. One compelled people to perform social rituals in which success was almost impossible, so as to be entitled to despise them when they failed. And the person who actually succeeded in eating her peas on the back of her fork was authorised, nay chartered, to think very well of herself indeed. The dynamics of this game should always be borne in mind when considering either old-fashioned strictures on clothing and deportment, or new-fangled strictures on what things must be called in polite society. The subject is of no interest, in fact the more trivial the better, like eating peas with the back of the fork; what matters is who wins and who loses.

2 Responses

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  1. Written by James Beck
    on February 28, 2011 at 17:57

    If the Queen can eat with her fingers in Morocco, she can do the same in Colorado. By the way, what about whole kernel corn? It’s shaped like peas, but much less squashable. Is it permissible to scoop one’s corn? Likewise, is it acceptable to hash one’s peas, corn, etc. into the mashed for easy retrieval? Would this be considered the rudest sort of cheating or a clever innovation? If the former, I’m afraid she’ll just have to get used to me. I like my mashed (and my oatmeal) lumpy.

  2. Written by Hugo Grinebiter
    on February 28, 2011 at 18:49

    I’m not sure that the people who perpetrated this kind of standard were the royals or aristos, I’m thinking more lower-middle-class trying to climb up and distance themselves from the proles.

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