Till about a couple of generations back, much importance was placed on manners and etiquette. It wasn’t a luxury or a one off thing for people to learn their manners; it was mandatory and considered a done thing. Lessons on poise and posture were considered signs of being well-bred. However, with passing time, finishing schools have died an unfortunate death.
We have come to disregard manners and have discarded them at the altar of modernisation. Many of us argue that manners are stifling and discipline is constrictive. It is true that one cannot accept everything that the etiquette bible teaches us and that the literature needs to be revised on a regular basis. However, some principles are universal and will be relevant as long as man remains civilised. Table manners are definitely one of them.
Here’s a basic list of the dos and don’ts to be remembered while dining. While some memorise these habits and use them only when dining in public, the truly elegant ones imbibe them in their personalities and practice them even when dining all alone.
- If you are the host, offer your guests the seats with better views.
- As a gentleman, remember to keep your dinner jacket on when dining in fine hotels, clubs and restaurants.
- While the choice of topics at a dining table shows no restraint these days, it is still considered a sign of good upbringing to refrain from sensitive issues such as religion, sexuality, money, malicious gossip and bragging. Anything loud and inappropriate should be avoided.
- One need not thank the waiter every time he brings a dish. Thanking once during the whole meal would suffice.
- In a buffet, avoid looking gluttonous by not heaping your plate with food.
- While leaving your seat during the meal, place your cutlery in the I-am-coming-back pattern and place your napkin on your seat.
- Start with cutlery on the outside and work inwards for every course.
- Remember to pass both salt and pepper even if you have been requested for one.
- When in doubt, follow the person seated next to you.
Some major table etiquette Faux Pas to avoid:
- Burping, chewing loudly or with open mouth and clicking tongue
- Hunching over the plate
- Taking the body towards the food instead of bringing the food towards the body.
- Incessant talking or gesticulating
- Holding the fork or knife in the stabbing position.