Food etiquette

-Rujuta Joshi

Have you ever gone to a high end restaurant or on a meal with a business partner and suddenly felt out of place? Because you cannot act here the way you would at home, you can’t eat with your bare hands and you don’t know which spoons to use to eat.  You are confused and don’t know what your manner should be in such a situation and you are afraid that displaying your lack of table manners might make a scratch on your reputation and might harm the prospect for further business. The feeling of having been unprepared creeps up and you sit there looking nervous and frustrated. For sure you don’t want any such situation to come, you want to look confident and a well breed person in front of others. For this you need to know certain table etiquettes that you have to observe while fine dining. This article will give you tips on how to act as a host and a guest in a way that it is preferred by society.

  1. Before the dinner-

If you have been invited to some place for dinner it is always good to RSVP even when they don’t ask you to, as it helps the host know and plan for the dinner settings. Do not ask to bring extra guests, if it is a family dinner you can ask them if children are allowed or not. If there are any dietary restrictions make sure to inform the host beforehand so as to not cause any trouble afterwards.

If you are the host, it’s your job to reserve seats in the restaurant beforehand, and decide the location of the restaurant depending on the diet of your guests, which you should ask them before arranging for the meal. You should be the one who directs them to their seats and recommends items to order. Make some small talk until everyone is comfortably seated and have their drinks, than you can start talking about the purpose of your meeting.

Also do not start eating until the food for everyone has arrived, it makes you look hungrier and less respectful.

  1. Additional rules before starting 

If you are going to a friend’s party make sure to take a gift with you even though they have specified not to, it shows a good upbringing and manners. Though your gift might not be used during the dinner itself as most parties have a menu and your gift might not have matched it, but it is no reason to feel upset. 

Your host will naturally direct you to your seat or else there might be place cards telling you where to sit. Once seated, observe the host, when the host takes the napkin and folds it, than you can take the napkin from your plate or table and fold it and keep it in your lap. If you are dining in a restaurant so as soon as you are seated. Keep your napkin in your lap at all the times, if you need to get up put it beside the right side of the plate and when you are finished put it on the left side. Use the napkin to only dab the corners of your mouth, if you need to blow your nose than excuse yourself to the washroom.

Many cultures have a ritual to say prayers before the meal starts, to respect them keep silent even if you don’t follow their beliefs. 

  1. Silverware to use 

What confuses most of us is which utensil to use when; one simple trick is observing the host and following them. While one other rule is that you start with the utensil the farthest from you and make you way in. following picture shows you which to use when, feel free to memorize it-

Where do I place the Bread Plate? How to Set a Formal Table | Dining  etiquette, Formal table setting, Table manners

The largest fork is the entrée fork. The salad fork is the smaller one. The largest spoon is the soup spoon. The utensils above the plate are the dessert fork and spoon, which are sometimes placed on either side of the plate or brought in with the dessert. The food always passes from left.

The knife and fork are to be held with handles in hand, forefinger on top and thumb underneath

The Royal Butler on Twitter: "There is only one correct way to hold your  knife & fork. If you're holding them differently to this, then I'm afraid  you're in the wrong!…"
  1. While eating 

When dinner is served on the table it should be passed on counter clockwise. If you need something on the other end of the table don’t reach out just ask someone to pass it on. Salt and pepper should be passed on together even when only one is needed. Do not blow on your food let it cool down to eat. When eating bread, cut your bread into small piece and butter it, do not eat he whole roll at once. Following are some points you must follow to fit in the society- 

  • Always close your mouth while chewing food. 
  • Do not make loud noise while eating.
  • Turn of you mobile before seating down , to check it is rude and manner less
  • Never talk with food in your mouth , if any question is asked wait till you swallow your food before answering
  • Taste your food before you add salt or pepper as doing so might harm your hosts’ feeling.
  • Don’t cut all your food beforehand cut them as you go on eating.
  • If you are drinking from a stemmed glass hold it by the stem.
  • Do not gesture with your utensils.
  • Compliment the host on the food.
  • Keep your elbows off the table, rest your hands in your lap.
  • Do not burp or make any such sounds.
  • Never use a toothpick at the table.
  • Eat slowly matching time with your host
  • If you spill something ask a server to help you and if it is in a private party dab it yourself and offer to have it cleaned professionally.
  1. After the meal

Following is a picture of utensils showing how to put them and what they mean- 

Dining Etiquette Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

If you are the host in a restaurant always pay the bill, and if possible do so beforehand it is very refined way of paying. If you are a female host and the male guest insist on paying the bill you can say ” it’s on the company not me” but if they still insist it is better to let them pay. Always say please and thank you to the servers and make sure to pay a nice tip it gives a positive impression on the host.

In a dinner party after you have ate wait before the host stands up to move away from your seat. Always thank hem and if it is informal than offer to help them clean up. Do not go away immediately after dinner; wait for an hour or so to leave.

The points above might seem a bit too hard to remember and follow meticulously, but they help uphold your good reputation and image. Try to learn them and practice using the silverware beforehand if you never have used them to avoid clumsiness at the table. Just follow the above tips and you will be the most refined and courteous person at the table.


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