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Dining Etiquette Tips: How to Eat What

Although eating manners vary greatly from one region to another, it is also good to be reminded of the general standards set as the universal dining etiquette that must followed when eating, especially during formal occasions.

We all love to eat. Food is presented to us in many forms and in many ways. When gastronomic delights are right in front of us, how we just love to dive in and devour every morsel. Yes, we can. But there are proper ways of dining. Although eating manners vary greatly from one region to another, it is also good to be reminded of the general standards set as the universal dining etiquette that must followed when eating, especially during formal occasions.

1. The soup is spooned by strokes away from you. If you wish to tilt the soup plate to get all the soup or the remaining contents, tilt the plate away from you (this is discouraged, however). Use the side of the spoon in taking soup unless it is thick in which case you may use the front of the spoon.

2. Bread is always broken into moderate-sized pieces with the finger before eating. A piece is buttered with a knife while held on the edge of the bread and butter plate. Never butter the bread in the air. Also, do not butter the whole piece of bread at once; avoid making a sandwich either. Take note of the following pointers, too:

• The bread plate is placed to the left and forward of the dinner plate.

• Cheese may be spread with either knife or fork. A butter knife must be used on soft cheese, however.

3. Cut only a small piece of meat at a time. Do not cut up the whole chunk of meat at once.

4. As a first course, shrimp may be eaten in one piece if not large. If big, cut neatly using the edge of the fork. You may use your knife.

5. Spaghetti is taken by first holding a few pieces with the end of the fork against the plate. The fork is then twirled slowly to wrap the spaghetti around the tines before eating.

6. In formal dinners, always use the knife and fork for the chicken. In informal meals, however, one may use the fingers in taking small bony pieces. The main body is to be cut by the knife and picked by the fork.

7. All sandwiches are eaten from the fingers. Club sandwiches and other thick ones must be cut in smaller portions before being picked up. French fries or shoestring potato chips accompanying these sandwiches may be eaten with the fingers, too.

8. Pointers on eating fruits:

Bananas – You may peel the skill all the way off, lay the fruit on the plate then slice it into pieces. Eat them with a fork.

Apples – Apples are usually quartered with a knife. Remove the seeded core and use your fingers when eating.

Cantaloupes are cut in quarters or halves. The seeds are removed, then pieces are cut using the side of a fork or a knife.

9. All cakes and soft fruits are best eaten using a fork and if necessary with a knife.

10. Don’t fill a goblet to the brim; also it is unnecessary to empty our soda bottle into a glass at once.

11. Coffee is taken directly from the cup and not sipped tentatively by a spoon.

12. Gravy is used only for specific dishes and should not be spread all over. Never mix different kinds of food into a heap on the plate.

Other useful dining tips

• A very basic rule is “Never speak with something in your mouth. Chew quietly with your mouth closed.” Violating this is the height of bad manners on the general standard.

• Before drinking any beverage, wipe your lips first to avoid unsightly marks on the rim of the glass.

• It is but proper for a guest to take a little of every dish offered. This serves as a compliment to the host.  If you should refuse a dish when you’ve had enough and are offered more, say “No, thank you, I’m satisfied” instead of “No, thank you, I’m full.”

• To use a finger bowl, dip the fingers of one hand at a time then dry them with the napkin on the lap; and not on the surface of the table. The finger bowl usually comes after the dessert or together with it.

• Never put any liquid in your mouth if it is filled with food already. Not even a sip of coffee is allowed if you’ve got a piece of bread in. In emergency cases however, such as when you accidentally placed scalding food in your mouth, taking a sip of water instead of spitting it out is definitely more proper.

Read also Table Etiquette for Formal Dining: Seating, Utensils, China and Glassware

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Comments (4)

You know, for me, it's a lot to be bothered with. But very interesting

Good tips. Thanks.

Well-written article! I remember being told some of these things when I was growing up.

Great eating tips, many thanks.