A guide to modern day table etiquette

Table etiquette is one of the most important and useful skills that you could acquire, especially if you want to act sophisticated and classy. Let this dining etiquette guide help you learn the basics.

As kids, most of us would have heard our parents ranting 'chew your food properly' or 'keep your elbows off the table'; their continuous effort to instil these habits was our first encounter with table etiquette. As we grew older they mellowed down – our parents I mean - for we had, by then learnt not to spray our food at other people while trying to accomplish the task of chewing and talking - apart of course from other basic mannerisms that enabled us to act like mature adults for a major part of it.

Fast forward to the present - food still remains a major fixture in our everyday world. Though (as kids) we had mastered the art of eating, we are still not masters of the art. Many of us often find ourselves going through a minor fit when we have to eat at a fine dine restaurant. Imagine sitting in front of an assortment of cutlery, half of which we have to Google to understand. Don't let not knowing how to use the cutlery bother you – just follow someone who seems most at ease. They probably have enough experience to know which fork, knife or spoon to use with what.

But, there are a few dining etiquettes that you must follow when eating at a posh place. Here is a list of things that can come in handy while you visit the best burger restaurant or join your parents for dinner at a fine dine place.

Chew, don't swallow

This is one of the most basic lessons that you should incorporate at every meal. Chewing your food is important both from a nutritional perspective as well as an etiquette filled one. Nobody really enjoys the company of someone who's hogging down all the food without caring what's going on around them.
When you stuff your face with food, the chewing becomes difficult. More often than not, you end up making discomforting smacking noises while your lips are smeared with food that you plan on gulping down in the next 5 seconds. Take small bites so your face doesn't bulge with all the food in your mouth.

Don't let your words surpass your food

Talking with a mouth filled with food is one of the most unappetizing things that you could ever do. There is never a time when talking should surpass chewing.

Yes, you are in the middle of a conversation, but it can wait a few more seconds. Nobody likes to be a part of a conversation with flying breadcrumbs coming at them at supersonic speeds. This holds true even when you are at a fast food place. Do one thing at a time, either eat or talk.

Where does the napkin go?

Where to place the napkin creates quite a bit of confusion. You pick the napkin unfold it to your side, not over the table or your plate. Fold it in half and place it on your lap with the loose ends away from you. If you need to use the napkin to wipe your mouth, you just lift the top half of the fold and gently wipe any spills.

The napkin never gets back onto the table right through the meal. It is placed back on the table only when you are finished eating. If you have to excuse yourself between courses, you can scrunch the napkin and leave it on your seat. Do not leave it on the table.

Fork it right

Most people mess this one up. If you are not used to eating with cutlery at home, then you'll be struggling when you have to use it. Remember, to always hold the fork in your left hand and use the right hand for the knife. This eases the process of cutting your food into smaller pieces and allows you to easily adjust your bite size. Use the fork to shift the food into your mouth.

Calling for assistance

Waving at a waiter or calling them out is one of the worst things that you can do after you are done with spraying your food on fellow table members. The right way to seek a waiter is to raise your hand and nod when you make eye contact. Be patient, you are not the only one in the restaurant.

Smile at the person serving you, and remember to thank them when they are done. It's rude to order people around.

Soup your way to glory

By far, soups are one of the hardest to master. People usually slurp while trying to have them decently or spend a good 30 seconds trying to blow at it; we all know how that ends. You should let your soup rest and wait for it to come down to an edible temperature. Spoon your soup away from you and not towards you. This prevents spillage and avoids the common 'Soup Disaster'

These simple tips can help you in making sure that you don't get the look of death from your dinner mates.

Article by Juana
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.

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Author: sushma mewundi03 Aug 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 3

Nice article to know the table etiquette. I have come across people who make a irritating sound while chewing food. That must be avoided, especially when going out for lunch or dinner in a group. Also a person should not start eating as soon as his order comes while others are still waiting. He should wait for everyone and then start eating the food.

Author: K Mohan06 Aug 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

Well I do appreciate the tips given by the author which helps in following the modern table manners etiquette. but what I feel that we cannot have the same kind of decency at every place. For example if we are with the known friends and having a bash , then the behavior would be very formal and not the one with conditional rules. Likewise when we are among the relatives, the table manners are never followed and totally forgotten. There are instances when people share their items from their plate to others and that is really annoying to many. Moreover talking while having the food is the worst manners, but people wont care and they raise all important issues during that time and the interest to have the tasty foods in leisure manner is lost. And one more etiquette which I want to stress here to the young ones that when ever elders are eating and they are also accompanied, never hurry to get up first and wash the hands. In our customs, the elders are given the preference to raise and wash the hands first.

Author: Partha K.13 Aug 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 1

I really appreciate the author for this extremely useful article. Frankly speaking, I face a lot of difficulty during working lunch. Either I can't express my views with food in my mouth or I can't enjoy the food during discussion (although the second case is more heart-breaking!). So far as the hot soup is concerned, I do take extreme care to bring it to edible temperature before having it. And I also behave very courteously with the waiter who serves food. However, I am yet to learn the correct way to pass the food-items from one person to another. I do expect a line or two from the author on this aspect.

I recommend all to go through this excellent article. Thumbs up to the author!

Author: Juana18 Oct 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 4

Sushma – It is not just while eating food, making slurping sounds while drinking tea, coffee, water etcetera, is also bad etiquette.

Mohan – The focus of this article is on etiquettes to be observed during fine dining. The purpose is to impart basic table manners to those who are moving in a certain society, so they fit in.

Partha – It is always nice to put the cutlery down when talking. Stop eating, make your point and then eat a morsel or two, while paying attention to what is being said. Each time you need to be heard, stop eating and say what has to be said.

Food is always passed clockwise – from left to right. This way there is no confusion of dishes moving all around the table. A system is followed. Even if someone sitting across you, at the table, asks for a dish that is placed close to you do not stretch to pass it over, instead pass it to the person on the right, and they pass it on.

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