Formal Sit Down dining affairs can be quite an experience. For some, they can be a “very well in taste affair” while for some, it could be like Karma getting back! But seriously guys, it’s not that big a deal. And once you learn the basics, it’s actually nice! So in the true princely fashion…presenting before you are Dining Table Etiquettes!!!
To begin with, once you are seated, unfold your napkin and place it on your lap, to be used occasionally for wiping the mouth. More importantly, after the meal, the napkin should always be placed back on the side of the plate on the table and never on the plate. People often lace used napkins & tissue papers on the plates when done. Formal sit down or a casual evening out, this is a big No!
Next comes the part that is most commonly in use, yet most of us are confused about. The cardinal rule is: The fork goes in the left hand. The handles in the palm of the hand, forefinger on the top and thumb underneath. Sorted. But what happens when you are having rice or peas or corn kernels or even a pastry with a fork? Don’t stress. You are doing it right, fork switches over to the right hand, face up. See, this was no rocket science!
Sit down affairs are not only about food but about interesting conversations too. While you may remember to speak only once your mouth is free of food, what about your hands? Well if you intend to put down your fork & knife, then make sure you put it on either side of the plate – more like a 9 O’clock for the fork and 3 O’clock for the knife kind of a formation. Once your meal is over, simply place the fork & knife side by side in the centre of the plate facing 10 O’clock. This is a signal to the staff to clear your plate.
Should you have a lady seated next to you, it is extremely polite to stand up as she leaves the table to be excused to use the bathroom. Do extend the courtesy of standing up again once she is back to join the table. Seems like a bother? Here is a little fact: Women love chivalrous men and those with etiquettes. I know, all that talk about gender equality and all. That’s all fine, but trust me nothing impresses them more than a man with polished etiquettes and fine language!
A quick list of don’ts. Remember never to start eating before your host does. Also, do not lean across the table to reach out for something you want. Ask the person seated next to you to pass the dish on. Needless to say, uncouth activities like burping or picking your teeth are an absolute no! If you feel something is really stuck in your teeth, excuse yourself and head straight to the washroom. And very importantly, never put your glass down after raising a toast. Always take a sip and then rest your glass. And need I mention, you are never to rest your left hand on the table. Always in your lap.
With these basics covered, I am quite sure you will be able to tidy up well for the evening ahead and create quite an impression too! All the best!