The right way to eat lamb chops is with rosemary and garlic, advise authors Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, who call the combination a "Holy Grail" pairing in their book "The Flavor Bible." But once you've seasoned the chops or ordered them at a restaurant, you need to determine the proper way to get them into your mouth. The answer depends on whether you can get a good grip on the chop and whether you're dining with the queen or with your family on the back deck.
No Bones About It
Some chops allow you to pick them up, and some don't. Chops from the rib section of the lamb provide you with a ready-made handle, with the rib bone protruding from the meat. With other chops, you don't have that kind of a hand grip, forcing you to use a knife and fork. Chops from the loin section typically have no bone at all, while blade and arm chops from the shoulder section have only a small, circular bone.
Never Use Your Fingers
As a general rule, it's considered impolite to eat lamb chops with your fingers. Etiquette instructors advise to always use a knife and fork to cut the meat, leaving behind any stray bits of meat. The frilly paper at the end of the bone is not an invitation to pick up the entire chop, but rather allows you the possibility of lifting the chop ever so slightly to keep it steady as you cut off the meat.
Never Say Never
If given permission by your host or hostess to eat lamb chops with your hands, feel free to do so, but keep in mind that some etiquette rules still apply. Use your fingers only after you've removed most of the meat with a knife and fork and only if the chop isn't served with a sauce. If the chops are breaded and you don't know if any meat remains on the bone, leave the chop alone rather than risk biting into a piece of stray bone or gristle.
When in Rome
In the case of eating lamb chops with your fingers, your mother's advice of not following the crowd doesn't apply. At a backyard barbecue, a family dinner or a casual bar or restaurant where everyone else is eating the chops with their fingers, you can, too. I Marvin Gapultos, author of "The Adobo Road Cookbook," calls lamb chops one of the best meat-on-a-stick options for appetizer finger food.