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Dining Etiquette 101
The holiday season is around the corner, so let's start new traditions by following old traditions. Here are some basic rules of etiquette at a formal table setting:
Salt and/or pepper:
They should be passed together, even when only one is requested. Don't season food before tasting it.
Glassware is limited to four (as shown). Wine is poured from the right. Don't overfill glasses.
Red wine glass
White wine glass
Place card: Never switch or change seating arrangements already planned by host.
Dessert spoon and fork: When dessert is served with both fork and spoon, the fork is the pusher and the spoon is used for eating.
Bread dish and butter knife: Tear bread into bite-size pieces on the bread plate and butter each piece with butter knife just before you eat it.
Cutlery: The rule is to use it from the outside in. Once a utensil has been used, it should not touch the table again.
Napkin placement: Once seated, the host takes his napkin, then guests follow and place onto them on their laps.
Flatware: The number of silverware pieces indicates number of courses to be served. A formal dinner consists of seven courses, in this order: soup, fish, sorbet (or palate cleanser), a meat or fowl dish, salad, dessert and coffee.
When eating soup, tilt the spoon away from you.
To get the last bit of soup from the bottom of the bowl, tilt the soup plate away from you.
Knives and forks are held in a relaxed manner.
When holding the meat knife, place your index finger about an inch down from the handle to help press down firmly. Hold the fork in your left hand, prongs down. Cut only enough food for each mouthful.
PROPOSING A TOAST
The custom of clinking glasses originally was used to drive away evil spirits. If you clink, do so with care, especially with crystal. For the most part, simply raise your glass in the direction of the person being toasted. Toasts should be long enough to cover the subject but short enough to be amusing - about a minute.
It may be a nice idea to toast people in their native tongue:
Salud (SA lud): Spanish
Slainte (SLANT tay): Irish
L'chaim (leh KHY yim): Yiddish
Prosit (PRO sit): German
Kanpai (KAHN pi): Japanese
Sante (SAN tay) French/Quebec
FINGER FOODS These are foods you can and should eat with your fingers.
Corn on the cob
Fruits with stems
Sandwiches and fries
When you take a break from the table, your knife and fork should be crossed in one of the positions shown.
When stepping away from the table, leave your napkin loosely on the chair.
The dessert spoon should be resting on the saucer and not the cup.
At the end of the meal, the knife and fork should be at the 11 o'clock position.
Wait for the host to loosely place his/her napkin to the left of his/her place setting when the meal is finished.