Have you ever looked at a formal dinner table and thought, Oh oh, which fork do I use? Which bread plate is mine? What do I do with my napkin? This article clears up the confusion, so you can display proper etiquette at the dining table.
Use the right fork for proper table manners
o First, locate your own place setting. It will be in the form of a square in front of you. Your bread plate is always on the left. Glasses are always on the right. How can you remember? Easy. The words Food and Left each have four letters. Drink and Right each have five letters.
o The utensils show the number of courses, and there is a maximum of three of any utensil at a time. Always pick up the utensils on the outside first. Then, just work your way in with each course.
o The spoon and fork above your plate are for dessert. Use the fork to eat your cake, and the spoon for ice cream or custard. Tip: A small cup of sorbet is often served to cleanse the palate between courses.
Proper napkin etiquette
o Place your napkin on your lap and use it frequently to wipe your fingers and dab your lips. If you leave the table during the meal, put your napkin on your chair. Never put a soiled napkin on the table until the end of the meal, where you place it, gently crumpled, to the left of your plate.
o Don’t eat bread or anything else at the table until everyone is seated.
o Don’t reach across the table. The person closest to the bread basket begins by picking it up and offering it to the person on his left, then takes a roll, and passes the basket to the right.
o When you receive the bread basket, don’t put it down. Keep passing it. It goes from left to right, just like reading a book. Put a dab of butter on your plate and pass it in the same way.
o Don’t cut your roll in half, butter it and chomp into it. Instead, break off one bite-sized piece at a time, butter it and put it into your mouth.
o Sip your soup from the side of the spoon – silently. Don’t blow on the soup to cool it. Move the spoon from the front to the back of the bowl. Rest your spoon in the soup plate, or on the saucer, wherever there is more room.
o Begin eating when everyone at your table is served. If three or more people at a large table are served, they can start eating so their meals won’t get cold.
Bad manners to avoid
o Don’t wrap your hands into fists around the knife and fork handles. Don’t stab or saw your food.
o Cut one bite at a time and eat it. Don’t cut all the food in your plate into little pieces.
o Never place cutlery that has been used, back on a clean tablecloth, or hang it off the plate like oars on a rowboat.
o Don’t complain about the food. If there is something on your plate that you don’t like, such as a vegetable or side dish, don’t make a fuss about it. Eat a small portion, or just leave it on your plate.
Remember, having good table manners is about much more than using the right fork. But once you know your way around the table, you’ll feel more relaxed, knowing that you are using proper table etiquette and good manners.