Dining Table Manners
Does the way you eat food need to have a standard protocol or should it be as per the as it suits principle? A very subtle line of decency and refinement pertaining to the way things are done, distinguish the human from a beast. Following certain pre-determined and universally accepted norms of eating during dining with others, reflects this finest attribute of being civilized , adding a tinge of feel good factor to the environment, conducive to eating in peace for everybody.
Different cultures have different established norms of eating. Some of them can be unacceptable and weird like the one which preaches that one should never deny the drink – alcoholic - offered by the host, even if you are a teetotaller. But there is a set of manners indicative of your level of refinement and respect for food and others, which definitely needs to be internalized and displayed at formal occasions.
Always be on time or at least 10 minutes before the stipulated time for dinner to start. Keeping others waiting is read as being rude and disrespectful for the ones present. Inform in advance in case you are stuck up with something out of your control. Apologise to everyone present in case you reach late. Take your seat and wait for the host to signal the commencement of the feast.
Wait for the host to pull of the napkin and place it in his/ her lap and follow suit. The napkin is meant to be on your lap for the period you dine, preventing your dress from getting soiled by any food items dropping on it accidentally. Do not use this napkin for any other purpose: sneezing; cleaning spill over’s or wiping the table ware.
Begin serving after the host has done so and start with the dish farthest from you. Use different dish for each item served. While eating hold the fork in the left hand and the knife in the right, slicing the food in morsels of smaller sizes each. Stuffing your mouth with more than can be chewed inconspicuously is seen as being gross.
If someone asks for salt or pepper to be passed on to them, hand over both together than only the one asked for. Never interrupt a food item in between it being passed through multiple hands to its intended recipient. Say “excuse me,” looking towards everyone present before leaving the table between meals to attend an exigency.
Keep your mobile phone on silent while dining in a group. Taking calls while sitting on the dining table is considered rude. Never utter the word “toilet” while excusing yourself from the table in order to uses the wash room. Don’t start cleaning any accidental spill overs by yourself, wait for or ask the attendant to do so.
Avoid talking with food in your mouth, and do not bring up any embarrassing or controversial topic for discussion. Pace your eating to match up with otherss, so that you don’t finish too early or too late than all the others present.
Dropping in thank you email or placing a call for the same, brings the entire process of being civilized while eating to its pleasant denouement.