If You Thought Hugging Was Complicated, Kissing Is Worse

Last week we covered the slightly fraught topic of how to navigate the world of friendly greetings when you’re not much of a hugger, which brings us to an even more complicated version of greetings–kissing. I had a really embarrassing time on vacation in Paris with a cousin’s French fiance, who went in for the double kiss as I sort of frantically waved my arms in a hug attempt while also kissing the air and I think his neck? It was bad, guys. And according to this map by Radical Cartography, I am not alone in being totally confused about the protocol. The map was made in 2013 but whatever, we just found it, and it’s totally relevant.

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How are you supposed to know? Why is it spread out like this? WHO KISSES FIVE TIMES?? The lesson I’m pretty much getting out of this is never greet anyone in France.

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How Do You Cut The Cheese (Every Pun Intended)

Oh boy, cheese etiquette. This is something near and dear to my heart. Last year for Christmas my fiance got me a beautiful bracelet and a $25 gift certificate to a fancy cheese store and I was 10 times more excited about the cheese. Actually, when I first met my fiance at summer camp, it was taco night and I asked him to go back up to the fixins bar and get me a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. And he did. And then I was violently ill but that’s love right?

Now mostly, I’d say screw cheese etiquette because 90% of the time I enjoy cheese like this:

However, if you’re at a party, snuggies and/or personal cheese knives may be discouraged, and there are a few rules to follow to make sure everyone enjoys the cheese plate equally.

1. Don’t scoop out the cheese from the rind. Oh my god, if you’re one of those finicky people who can’t stand the rind of the creamy, soft cheese it covers then you have no place in my life. And if you’re one of those people who uses a cracker to scoop out brie from its rind, leaving nothing but the shell for everyone else, I’m saying right here that your host has my full permission to publicly call you out and never invite you back. Take a full slice, rind and all, and just eat out the center from the privacy of your plate if you must.

2. Don’t mix knives. This is pretty standard for most foods, but especially for cheese, because as Bonjour Paris puts it “Cheese is alive and flavors of neighboring cheeses are easily absorbed.” THE CHEESE IS ALIVE, EVERYONE!

3. Cut the cheese based on its natural shape. This means if it’s a wheel, cut it in a wedge like a pie. If it’s square, cut off even square slices. If it’s a wedge, cut along the sides so the wedge shape is preserved. In countries where cheese eating is more prevalent, children are taught to cut the first wedge out of a wheel at about the width of a pencil. This is adorable.

4. In France, where cheese is serious business, you should not cut the point off a wedge of cheese (see the point above). They even have a name for when you do it: “breaking the nose.”