Table etiquettes are always a daunting topic whether it is a business dinner you are going for, a black-tie event that you wish to attend or a casual brunch on a day out with friends. From types of cutlery, styles of eating different cuisines there are different levels of etiquettes that are followed throughout the world depending on the occasion. Tushar Nagar, Food and Beverage Manager, Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott, Bengaluru, and Ishan Shah, Director and Co-Owner MAIA – Eat, Bake, Mom, Bengaluru, tell us how to get the right table etiquettes.
* Getting Started: If you are invited to have dinner with someone, it is always a good idea to respond, even if an RSVP is not requested. This helps with planning. When you are dining at the home of a friend, it is a good idea to bring a gift for the host or hostess. Some dinner parties are formal and have place cards where the host or hostess wants you to sit. If not, ask if there are any seating preferences. Wait until the host sits before you do.
* Know your glasses: If you have more than one glass on the table which resembles a wine glass, you can tell which one is for what purpose by the following simple guide. The water glass is always a thicker one with a substantial stem as opposed to wine glasses. Within the wine glasses, the dessert wine glasses have a wider mouth and smaller bowl, the champagne flutes and more elongated than others and the white wine glass have a wider mouth and a narrower body.
* Use of cutlery and hands: If there are a lot of forks and knives on either side of your plate, always start the meal by using the cutlery on the outer most end and work your way in. Do not keep your knife and fork crossed on the plate at any time as that is considered rude. If you are drinking from a stemmed glass, hold it by the stem. A typical rule of thumb is to start with the utensil that is farthest from your plate and work your way toward the centre of your place setting. Dishes such as pizza, sushi pizza, the nagiri sushi, and your bread are meant to be eaten with hands so the use of cutlery is not always the right thing to do especially if you are with a Japanese or an Italian, in this case.
* When to eat: If you are eating out, you should wait until all the members of your group have been served before picking up your fork. For dinners where food is served at the table, the dishes should be passed in a counter a counter-clockwise flow. Never reach across the table for anything.
* While eating: It is always advisable to turn off your cell phone before sitting down, to avoid talking and texting while dining. It is rude in the company of others or guests. Keep your elbows off the table or rest the hand you are not using in your lap. Never talk or burp while dining — it’s just gross, even if someone asks you a question, wait for the food and then answer.
Taste your food before you add salt, pepper, or another seasoning. Doing otherwise may be insulting to the host or hostess. Cut one or two bites instead of cutting all at once and taste everything served on the plate unless you’re allergic. If you spill something at a restaurant, signal one of the servers to help. If you spill something at a private dinner party in someone’s home, pick it up and blot the spill. Offer to have it professionally cleaned if necessary.
* After the meal: After you finish eating, partially fold your napkin and place it to the left of your plate. Never use a toothpick or dental floss at the table.
Having said all this, eating is always about one’s comfort, so how one wishes to eat a dish is completely on them. At the end of the day, the best advice would be to enjoy your meal, make sure you convey your pleasure and bon appetit.
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