Saturday, October 17, 2015

Etiquette Tips for the Table

Hey... Cover that cough, please!

Coughing at the Table

Ordinary coughing at table is done behind the hand, without excuse, but a coughing fit, brought on by something being caught in the windpipe, indicates that you must leave the table immediately without excuse (you can't talk, anyhow). If necessary, your partner at table offers help in the next room a pat on the back or a glass of water. If there is a servant present he or she attends to this unless the hostess indicates to some member of the family or to a nearby guest that help might be better from that source.

And if you're sick, just stay home.
Blowing One's Nose at the Table


If the nose must be blown at table, it is done as quietly as possible, without excuse to draw attention to the fact.
Don't serve it to your guests!
"Foreign Matter" in Foods

Foreign bodies accidentally taken into the mouth with food gravel, stones, bird shot are removed with thumb and forefinger, as are fish bones and other tiny bones. If a gnat gets into a beverage or some other unappetizing creature turns up in or on a diner's food, he fishes it out, unobserved (so others won't see it and be upset), and then either proceeds or leaves the drink or dish untouched, depending on the degree of odiousness of the intruder. 

A gnat or a tiny inchworm on lettuce shouldn't bother anyone, but most fastidious people draw the line at a fly or worse. If the hostess notices an untouched dish, she may say, "Do let me serve you a fresh portion," and she has the dish or drink removed without remarking clinically as to the need for the move. Or if a servant notices, she asks if the guest would like a fresh serving. In a restaurant, if host or hostess does not notice (and both should be alert for this sort of thing) that something is amiss, the guest may tactfully murmur to the waiter that the dish or drink needs changing preferably when host or hostess's attention is directed else- where.
Use the serving utensils provided, not your own. If the serving utensils have been forgotten, pause long enough for the hostess to notice what's happened. 
When You Need Silverware

Your own wet spoon should never be placed in a sugar bowl, nor your butter knife in the jam or butter dish. If the serving utensils have been forgotten, pause long enough for the hostess to notice what's happened.   
This is informal but only permissible, if a fresh fork or spoon is used, with the possessor of the dish then handing the "taste" implement, handle first, to the other person. As this is an adult and child, Etiquipedia allows it!

Tasting Another's Food

Sometimes a couple dining in a restaurant wish to taste each other's food. This is informal but permissible, though only if a fresh fork or spoon is used, with the possessor of the dish then handing the "taste" implement, handle first, to the other person. The other must not reach
across the table and eat from a companion's plate, no matter how many years they have been married. If one of the two has had included some item say French fried potatoes in his order and doesn't wish them, he asks the waiter to serve them to the other, if desired he doesn't take them on his plate, then re-serve them.
Oh, to be a toddler again and have an actual food pusher to use!

Using Bread as a "Pusher"

A bit of bread, if available, is used to push food onto a fork never use the fingers. At formal dinners when bread is not served one may always switch to the Continental style, if one is adept, and chase the peas onto the back of the fork held in the left hand, pressing them down before conveying the fork, upside down, to the mouth. Or, holding the fork in the right or (French and Italian fashion) left hand, tines up, on plate, one may guide difficult food onto it with the side of the knife.   
Reaching at table is now preferred to asking neighbors to pass things ...
Reaching at Table

Reaching at table is now preferred to asking neighbors to pass things one can well take up himself, but one should not have to rise out of his seat. – Amy Vanderbilt



Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber is the Site Moderator and Editor for Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia