I will be posting a more decor-centric post later this week on setting a “proper” table and hosting guests in your home. So, in anticipation of that post, I thought it wise to give another angle to the dinner parties. I am reaching out to my etiquette guru, Shelly Lorts of Modern Refinement Studios.
-This post was originally posted on the Modern Refinement blog on September 29, 2015-
Basic Eating Etiquette
In most sorority houses, Monday evenings are reserved for formal dinners with all members of the house. Traditionally, it is during these dinners that the housemother teaches the girls the rules of dining etiquette.
But this doesn’t often happen anymore. See this previous post for the whole story.
The etiquette of eating is incredibly important. Employers want to trust those they hire to represent themselves, and the company, well during lunch meetings or client dinners. And on the off chance you find yourself dining with some fancy people, you ought to know that they are paying attention to your eating habits.
We all know the major rules: no elbows on the table; chew with your mouth closed; don’t talk with your mouth full.
Make sure that you know these basics:
1.) Your eating utensils are not pens.
The biggest dining blunder these days is how forks and knives are held. When cutlery are held in fists or other odd contortions, it’s extremely obvious that the eater doesn’t know basic eating etiquette.
When cutting food, the knife should be placed in the right hand (if you’re right handed). The handle of the knife should be in the palm of your hand, which is facing the plate, and supported by the thumb on the left side and forefinger on the top. The fork should be in the left hand, prongs down, thumb and forefinger a mirror image of those on the right hand. The fork should NEVER be vertical, stabbed into the food, or held in a fist.
Image courtesy of magnoliaetiquette.com
If eating “American style,” the food is to be cut up into small, bite-sized pieces before the knife is laid across the top corner of the plate and the fork is switched into the right hand.
If eating “British style,” the knife and fork stay in their prospective hands, while a small piece is cut and eaten without switching hands. The prongs of the fork are always to face down toward the plate (except for certain pastas and fishes), and food that cannot be speared by the prongs is to be pushed onto the top of the fork by the knife.
2.) Signal when you’re finished.
When you’re done with your meal, signal the server (or hostess) by placing utensils across the plate in the 4:00 position (picture the plate as a clock).
When leaving the table, place the used napkin on the left side of the plate. And make sure it isn’t still folded or it will be assumed the napkin was never used.
3.) Know when to stop.
It’s acceptable to carry on eating during table conversation. When others are talking, be sure to make occasional eye contact and nod while continuing to gracefully indulge. But be sure to swallow before joining in.
It’s not acceptable to eat during speeches or performances. When taking a break from eating, lay the knife and fork in a criss-cross position on the plate for continental style, or with the knife across the top for American style.
4.) Remember the spoon rhyme.
“Out to sea and back to me,” is the way to remember the movement of a spoon when eating soup. Instead of scooping toward your body, proper etiquette says to scoop away from yourself, toward the back of the bowl, and then bring it slowly to your lips.
5.) Sit up straight and be careful.
Don’t lean over the plate. Instead, gather smaller amounts of food with your cutlery and bring carefully to your mouth while sitting up straight. Hunching looks silly and gives headaches.
When in doubt, just smile and act dainty.
Thanks so much Shelly for refreshing our minds on proper eating etiquette! So good to know and remember! Stay tuned for a continuation of this seemingly themed week on Thursday with “Setting a Proper Table”!
See you then!