Q: Karen, is it OK to eat fried chicken on the bone with our hands at a picnic? And what is the best way to eat corn on the cob?
A: Picnics and barbecues allow for more relaxed dining etiquette where we serve food that we probably wouldn't serve in a fine-dining situation. Fried chicken and corn on the cob are two of those items, and they are meant to be eaten with your hands at picnics.
The corn on the cob should be buttered and seasoned a few rows at a time and eaten by holding each end with your fingers. Corn holders are often used, which makes eating the corn a little less messy. Butter can be placed on your plate to put on your corn, or some families allow rolling the corn in the stick of butter. If this is your practice and everyone is using the same stick of butter, you wouldn't want to roll your corn in more butter after you have eaten off of it.
Fried chicken would be eaten with a knife and fork in a restaurant or other dining situations.
Some other foods that you might be served are barbecue ribs and relishes. Ribs can be picked up and eaten with your hands at a picnic, but not in other dining situations. And celery, olives, pickles and radishes are taken from the serving tray with your fingers and placed on the side of the dinner plate.
Celery and radishes may be eaten with your fingers. Eat large olives with a stone in several bites, putting the pit on the side of the plate. Pits may be removed from your mouth with your fingers. Small stuffed olives are eaten whole.
Likewise, watermelon when sliced with the rind on can be eaten with your hands, but use a knife and fork if it is cut up or when you are eating indoors.
Remember to have wet towels or wipes available for people to clean their hands at picnics and barbecues.
Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to email@example.com.