Not long ago Etiquetteer was dining alone in a hotel restaurant when the waiter served an amuse bouche as a surprise. For those unaware of this rather precious course, an amuse bouche is a single, infinitesimally small and artfully arranged hors d'oeuvres served as a surprise and designed to make a diner even hungrier for the dinner that was actually ordered. Here is the amuse bouche that Etiquetteer was served:
You'll observe that this bitlet of vegetable napoleon was served impaled on a toothpick and with its own fork. And therein lies the Conundrum of Table Manners: Which Utensil is Most Perfectly Proper? Does one grasp the toothpick by the top and take the bitlet off it at one bite, as one would if it was served at a cocktail party? Or does one remove the toothpick and use the fork, either taking each layer individually, or all at once?
Etiquetteer chose the former method, the toothpick, as being simplest and least likely to attract Unwelcome Attention, because the most Perfectly Proper table manners never call attention to themselves. The amuse bouche, however, calls too much attention to itself, and Etiquetteer would happily consign it to History. The Ostentatious Eighties are over!