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San Clemente Journal

Manners at the Table A Sign of Good Breeding

Aug 05, 2004 07:33PM ● By Don Kindred
by Kimberly Anderson, Etiquette Instructor

Nothing is more reasonable and cheap than good manners … anon.

    Most of us don’t sit around pondering table manners. That is, of course, until we find ourselves at a family reunion or special dinner and actually witness, first hand, a family member (such as our spouse!) or a friend, commit a dining faux pas. Then you might think to yourself, “Did they just step out of the 11th century when what we know today as table manners were only just beginning to develop? Has something happened to our desire to model the type of proper table manners that were such an integral part of our lives as recently as the 1940s and ‘50s?”
    Good table manners are priceless, and it might be time to elevate them to a higher level of importance in today’s society. Considering that food and its consumption are part of every major event we attend, we should know what is correct and what is considered impolite. 
Although a short article like this cannot offer every rule on table manners, it can at least be a start. And like a spelling list from years past, committing the following rules to memory can help you make a good impression on others around the table during your next dining experience.
- Never talk with your mouth full of food, nor drink from a glass at the same time.
- Place your napkin on your lap as soon as you sit down. The fold of the napkin should be close to your waist. When dinner is over and everyone is done, place your napkin on the table to the left of your plate. Never wad up your napkin or place it in the middle of your plate.
- Sit up straight with good posture. Always lift utensils up to your mouth rather than bending over your plate to eat.
- Never take a bigger bite of food than your mouth can handle.
- If you drop silverware on the floor, do not pick it up unless it is a safety hazard to the waiters or others.
- Do not reach across the table or someone else to grab something you need. If you are asked to pass something, such as the salt shaker, DO NOT use it first before passing it.
- Keep your elbows off the table. Only in between courses can you rest your elbows on the table.
- Never take a big bite out of your entire bread roll. Always tear off a bite-sized piece, butter that piece only, and place it in your mouth. If the rolls are served hot you may butter the whole roll at once.
- Utensils are placed on the table according to the order of use: Start from the outside and work your way in.
- While dining at a round table, remember that your drinking glass is always placed to the right and your salad/bread plate is placed to your left. If you forget and find that you just ate someone’s bread or drank their water, simply ask the waiter for another bread roll or glass of water and you’ll never make the same mistake again!
    In light of these few tips on proper table manners, it’s important to recognize that the way you eat and conduct yourself during a meal speaks volumes about you personally, be it a casual or formal setting. Your table etiquette can reveal how you were raised, your educational background or even your potential for financial success. Don’t let poor table manners destroy your image or your chance for advancement. Bon Appétit!
Kimberly Anderson can be reached at 369-9199.