TABLE MANNERS ARE (partly) what separates us from animals. However, sitting at a table and eating neatly, quietly and politely is something not a lot of us have mastered yet.
Of course, nobody cares what you do in the privacy of your own home, but when out and about with others it might be better to keep these tips in mind.
Let’s talk about chewing.
Been told you chew with your mouth open? Close it.
This is the first rule of table manners. Seeing food roll around in someone’s gob is just nasty.
When is it OK to start eating?
The general consensus is that when eight people or fewer are sitting down to dinner, you can start eating when everyone else is served, including your host.
At larger events, start eating when the people sitting on either side of you have been served.
What should I do with my cutlery?
Fork in the left hand, knife in the right (though no one will really hate you if you switch over, we guess).
You probably shouldn’t lick food off your knife, or wave cutlery around while you’re talking. It just looks bad.
Which bread roll is my bread roll?
We’ve all made the mistake of eating someone else’s roll, or getting thoroughly confused about which is your side plate.
Generally, the rule is “liquids on the right, solids on the left” – so the bread roll on the plate to your left is your bread roll.
What if I need something from the other end of the table?
Ask someone else to hand you it. Whatever you do, don’t lunge wildly over the table to grab the gravy boat.
Reaching over someone while they’re eating is just unpleasant for everyone involved. Trust us.
What if I need to burp/cough/sneeze?
If you HAVE to burp/cough/blow your nose at the table, don’t just let it rip. Be discreet about it. Again, it’s nasty.
So what do you do with your elbows?
Keeping our elbows off the dinner table has been drilled into us since birth, but it’s not a hard and fast rule.
According to Etiquette Scholar, it’s fine to put your elbows on the table when you’re not using your cutlery. In fact, leaning forward on your elbows during a dinner conversation “shows that you’re listening intently”. So now.
Where do I put my cutlery when I’m finished my meal?
Placing your knife and fork beside each other diagonally on your plate is a pretty much universal sign of a finished meal.
With these tips you are all set to eat a meal in a moderately fancy restaurant. Don’t ask us about the very fancy ones. We have no idea.