Who doesn’t have a friend or relative we hate to eat out with because of their atrocious table manners–speaking with a full mouth, chewing loudly, burping, picking their teeth, ploughing through food, licking their fingers, blowing their nose with a napkin–their list of etiquette don’ts are just endless!
Many of us grew up hearing the name Emily Post who had written her first book of etiquette in 1922. Throughout the years, Post’s book became known as the etiquette bible. It went through ten editions and ninety printings before her death in 1960.
Emily Post has been quoted as saying that “All rules of table manners are made to avoid ugliness.” Well, we’re never too old to learn new things, so if you know someone with poor table manners, share this list with them of the seventeen dining etiquette mistakes they need to drop:
The wrong way to use a napkin
Put your napkin in your lap shortly after you sit down. As you use it, blot or pat your lips as opposed to wiping your mouth as if it were a washcloth. A napkin should also never be worn as a bib.
Setting your belongings on the table
Do not put your purse, cellphone, keys, or any other random objects on the dining table. Keep your phone in your pocket and the rest of your belongings tucked away. If you need to make a call or send a text, excuse yourself from the table. Answering your phone at the table is just outright rude; you are sending a message to your dining guests that they are of no importance.
Basic table setting 101
At a table setting, here’s one rule to remember, BMW which stands for bread, meal, water. Your bread plate will always be on your left; the main meal is in the center and the beverage glasses are on your right.
Biting off the bread like a caveman
Never use your knife to cut a roll. Break the roll in half and tear off one piece at a time, and butter the piece as you are ready to eat it.
If the butter comes in a dish, use your butter knife to scoop out a portion to put on the edge of the bread plate. The bread plate is also the place to put jam or jelly. Please don’t tear off a portion of bread and put the rest back in the basket. And never use a piece of bread to sop up your sauce. Tacky, tacky! If you must sop up a sauce, use a fork to move the bread around and not your hands.
Spooning the soup towards you
When eating soup you spoon way from you and not towards you. Never slurp your soup. If your soup is piping hot, let it cool down first, then lift the spoon to your mouth. When you get to the bottom of the bowl tilt the bowl away from you to scoop up the last drop. Never, ever lift the bowl to drink from it.
Waving your fork or knife while speaking
It is impolite to speak while waving your fork or knife. Put your utensils down while speaking. You did not come to a sword fight. And never lick food off your knife!
Reaching for something
If you need to reach for something, ask the dining guest closest to the object to pass it to you. Keep in mind that guests don’t want your arms hovering above their food as you attempt to reach for the salt and pepper shakers.
Using the wrong flatware
When at a fine dining establishment,you might be overwhelmed by all the knives, forks, and spoons of all shapes and sizes at your place setting. A guide on how to properly use all of the utensils before you would be to start on the outside and work your way in as the meal goes on.
The largest fork is generally the entrée fork. The salad fork is smaller. The largest spoon is usually the soup spoon. If you are having a fish course, you may see the fish knife and fork as part of the place setting. The utensils above the plate are the dessert fork and spoon, although these may sometimes be placed on either side of the plate or brought in with the dessert.
Using a dropped utensil
If you drop a utensil on the floor, don’t swiftly pick it up thinking the 5-second rule will apply. You should reach down, pick it up but don’t use it. Politely ask the wait staff for a replacement.
Speaking with your mouth full
Absolutely no one cares to see the food in your mouth that you are chewing. Keep your mouth closed when you chew. If you need to speak, finish chewing what you have in your mouth before your reply.
Picking your teeth at the table
Don’t ever pick your teeth at the table, not even with a toothpick! I once witnessed a woman using a strand of hair as a piece of floss. Revolting! And speaking of floss, don’t even think to do this while sitting at a dinner table.
Keeping your elbows on the table while eating
Today there are different schools of thought about elbows on the table. Manners aren’t written in stone; they’re written in sand. They evolve over time to meet our needs and sensibilities. We are less formal today than during our grandparent’s time. It is safe to say, don’t place your elbows on the table while eating. However, it’s okay to prop your elbows on the table while conversing between courses.
Eating with your hands
What you can and cannot eat with your hands can become a complex maze of confusion. It is always best not to use your fingers while dining and stick to a knife and fork. There are, however, exceptions to the eating with hands rule like pizza, crispy bacon, corn on the cob, French fries, fried chicken (although with a large piece like the breast, a knife and fork can be used) sandwiches, tacos and wraps.
Licking your fingers
Barbecue sauce may get a little sticky, but if you’re eating with your fingers or somehow get some food on your fingers, resist the temptation to lick them clean and instead, use a napkin.
Using a napkin as a tissue
A napkin should only be used for blotting the sides of your mouth. If you need to blow your nose, excuse yourself to the bathroom.
Know the rest and finished positions
Place your knife and fork in the rest position (knife near the top of plate, fork across middle of plate) to let the waiter know you are resting. Use the finished position (fork below the knife, diagonally across the plate) to indicate that you have finished eating.
Do not push away or stack your dishes.
You are not the waiter. Let the wait staff do their jobs.