Many people don’t care about table etiquette, they don’t even know how to use their fork and knife. The only thing they know is the basic “Don’t talk with your mouth full…”
It’s a pity most schools in Nigeria neglected to teach us our table manners; education should be more than learning biology and mathematics. There are a number of fancy restaurants in Port Harcourt and you do not want to be visiting any one of them without your dinner etiquette intact would you?
Well this is not a finishing school, but I will do my best to teach you the basics.
When invited to dinner or so, you should know the acceptable practices or right ways to conduct yourself at the dining table especially when other people are partaking in the meal. Be it in a friend’s home, a restaurant or wherever.
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- Rule one:
Be punctual and dress appropriately. Try your best to make whatever atmosphere you find yourself in pleasant by making conversation and contributing your opinion. Imagine how it would look if all you did at a dinner party was sit by yourself and eat.
- Rule two:
Allow the host or hostess to sit before you take your seat. Always sit down or rise up from the left side of the chair.
- Rule three:
Sit upright, with your knees well under the table, your feet on the floor and your elbows off the table.
- Rule four:
When in doubt of the proper procedure at the table, follow the direction of the host or hostess.
Remember that movie Stella McCartney started in; SPY? Remember that time her character ate the napkin thinking it was food and another time wanted to clean her hands with the same thing only this time it was food? Well, to avoid something as embarrassing as that happening to you, wait and see what the host or hostess does first.
- Rule five:
Use the serving silver available to serve yourself. Remove food from the platter or serving plate and replace same when you are done serving yourself. How stupid would you look if you kept the whole platter to yourself?
- Rule six:
Turn the handle of the pitcher towards the person to whom it is being passed.
- Rule seven:
Scoop what is your fair share, give consideration to others on the table.
It’s advisable to go for a second helping rather than waste food by taking more than you can finish.
This is obviously a fancy gathering, you’re not a glutton (even if you are, please pretend) so take what you can finish. Even if you can finish the whole platter, don’t embarrass yourself and listen to your inner beast, dish moderately. Others gotta eat. But if they all eat and there’s extra, you can help yourself.
- Rule eight:
Ask to have a food or other items on the table passed to you. Never reach across the table or in front of a person.
Can you please pass me the ketchup?
Give me that ketchup sef is no language for a formal dinner setting.
- Rule nine:
Take small bites that you can conveniently chew with your lips closed.
- Rule ten:
Do not attempt to talk while your mouth is full, even when asked questions.
You can nod, but please do not show someone the contents of your mouth at that moment, no one wants to see the half masticated food.
- Rule eleven:
In cutting food, grasp the handle of the knife and the fork firmly so that each handle rests in the palm like a screwdriver. Extend the index finger along the handle to steady and to guide the knife and the fork.
You do know the knife stays on the right hand and the fork on the left right? Just making sure.
- Rule twelve:
Avoid messy plates by stirring or mixing portions of food together before beginning to eat.
Remember you’re not eating alone, others at the table might be disturbed by the sight of the mixture, so if you want to mix, mix at home.
- Rule thirteen:
Always try to use correct cutlery for appropriate dishes. Use fingers for finger foods.
It is not fancy to eat Samosa with a fork and knife. No one will think you came back from London if you do it. It’s called a finger food for a reason.
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- Rule fifteen:
Try as much as possible to finish when others at the table do. Do not be too fast or too slow.
It would be extra awkward if everybody has to wait for you to finish eating or you finish eating before everyone and have to stare at them chew.
- Rule sixteen:
If you must cough or sneeze use a napkin or handkerchief.
Obviously. Duhhhh… did you intend to sneeze into the air or inside someone’s food?
- Rule seventeen:
At the end of eating, leave your cutlery in the center of the plate with blade of the knife turned inward, the prong of the fork (the long, thin pointed parts) upward and the spoon upward. Teacups if used should be placed face down on the saucer.
Don’t wait for the queen to invite you for “supper” before you learn these etiquettes. Start practicing till you’ve mastered it.
I am, @Lord__Nina
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