Good Manners

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For those of you who think that having good manners is all about being a snob or privileged, then you’re wrong! You don’t really have to know all the very fine details of proper table etiquette, but you should strive to possess some form of graciousness that immediately says something about you as a person. There are different instances in life when you will be judged, not only for how intelligent you are or what experience you have, but also for how you conduct yourself at the table. It’s obvious that when you’re at home and alone, eating is not always going to be a pretty sight, things are relaxed and nobody’s judging you, but when outside your home, having manners is a quality that will serve you throughout your lifetime.

Historically speaking, manners and etiquette did begin with the privileged. It was the French who started it all, even though their table manners left much to be desired. A good example would be King Louis XIV, in his day there were at least six courses to a meal and there was a lot of pomp and ceremony around the dinner table. As they were all served at the same time there would be a fight to get food first, it was chaotic. The English were no better really, until the second half of the 18th century. They were all influenced by the Russians who introduced a new style of dining. The new style was the buffet table, where the servants themselves would pass the food around so that guests could then help themselves without having to leave the table or compete for food.

In my series about manners, I do go into some detail at times, because I personally think it’s fun to know about them, even though just knowing the basics with suffice. In my first clip I show a proper table setting, so that from now on there will be absolutely no confusion when you encounter so many forks, plates and knives.

The basic idea is that you begin using the utensils from the outside in, you work your way toward the plate in the order which you will be using them. Also they are geometrically spaced to create equal distances between everything.


I have to mention that sometimes there will be minor differences in the place settings depending on the country you’re in, for example in Europe the salad fork comes after the main course fork. 

Napkin: You should place your napkin on your lap for the entire time that everyone is dinning. If you have to leave for the bathroom, then place it on your chair. When you’ve finished eating, place the napkin beside the plate but not in a bunched up messy way.

First course: Do not begin to eat before everyone has received their food. The rules for eating soup are that you have to scoop the soup away from your body, and if it’s not a clear soup then you eat it from the front of the spoon. If it’s a clear soup you may eat it from the side of the spoon. Never make slurping sounds even though sometimes they are hard to prevent. If the soup bowl has handles to it and the soup is clear, you can actually bring it to your mouth and sip it like a drink but be careful, if you are on a lunch job interview, which one day when you’re older might happen, then don’t do this, unless everyone else is doing it.

When taking a break from eating soup, place spoon on right hand side of soup plate or in soup bowl. When polishing off the very last drops of soup, tilt the bowl away from you and scoop away from you. When finishing the meal place the spoon on the left hand side of the soup plate.


Eating salad and how to use your knife and fork 

History of  the knife, fork and spoon: 

Once upon a time things used to be so simple, who cared about knives and forks, you just used your hands for everything--less dishes! 

Eating utensils have an interesting history behind them.  The most ancient utensil is actually the spoon, it used to be wooden and then slowly it became a fad to eat with very well decorated spoons.  The decorations on your spoon  gave you a certain social status, and if you owned very ornate spoons, you were deemed important.

The knife used to have a very sharp edge to it just like a spear, and it was only the men who would carry it around with them and use it for cutting food. Women had to depend on a man to cut their food for them.  Only later on the pointy edge was dulled, and it resembled the knife that we know today.

Forks are a funny story because people actually resisted them at first, they looked like two prongs.  Once again it was the wealthy who turned their use into a fad, and this eventually caught on with the rest.  The wealthy would get their forks custom made for them and carry them in a special case wherever they would dine.

Eating salad: 

The salad course in America is eaten just before the main course, and in Europe the salad is eaten after the main course. We use the next utensil in line (working your way towards the plate, refer to diagram above) on both sides of the plate, and sometimes you will have a salad knife and at other times you won't.  In that case your fork will be used as fork and knife at the same time. Handle your utensils properly by wrapping your hand around the stem of the knife and fork while the index finger rests on top of the utensil.  In the European style of eating your fork will face downward.

When chewing your food you can place your wrists on the table while still holding on to your knife and fork.  If taking a break then place your knife and fork facing down in a crisscross position on your plate.

When completing your salad then place the utensils together, fork facing down in a twenty past the hour position.