Saturday, September 30, 2017

Exacting Etiquette for Employment

"Amanuensis" – One who is an artistic or literary assistant. In particular one who can take dictation or copy manuscripts. – He should be a good penman, of agreeable address and genteel appearance, fond of composing, and apt at learning to write in cipher. He should have a smattering of French, and be familiar with the forms and etiquette of correspondence.
An Exacting Miss? Or a Hoax? 
"If we are much mistaken the following advertisement for a nice young man, which appeared in the Cleaveland Plain Dealer, was rather a hoax: 
A lady, temporarily obliged to lay aside the duties and pleasures of writing, wishes to engage the leisure hours of a young gentleman in the duties of an amanuensis. He should be a good penman, of agreeable address and genteel appearance, fond of composing, and apt at learning to write in cipher. He should have a smattering of French, and be familiar with the forms and etiquette of correspondence. When not employed in writing, he will be expected to read with good taste and expression, be fond of poetry and music — to converse with gayety and spirit, and be familiar with cribbage and back-gammon. The compensation will be handsome, and no person need apply who is not neat in dress, younger than thirty, and an enemy to tobacco, poor puns, and the conventionalities of society. Communications with specimens of style, etc., directed to 'H, box 566, Cleveland post office,' will be promptly answered by appointment of time and place of interview." – The Weekly Alta, 1869

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

Friday, September 29, 2017

Table Etiquette of the Well-Bred

The well-bred woman seats herself without fuss, removes her gloves, opens up her napkin and places it on her lap. She keeps her hands from the table and does nothing for herself because the waiter is paid for service and expects to give it without assistance. 

Betty Bradeen’s Daily Chat

Ease at table is the distinguishing mark of good breeding, and it comes from a thorough knowledge of table etiquette and familiarity with the forms which govern it. If a woman is accustomed to be heedless in the privacy of home life, she is likely to be found wanting in manners when subjected to public inspection, for habits will crop out in the face of ordinary vigilance. Eating in public is an increasing habit which affects other than high-class society. 

Women go to hotels and tearooms after a shopping tour or as a finish to a matinee. The well-bred woman seats herself without fuss, removes her gloves, opens up her napkin and places it on her lap. She keeps her hands from the table and does nothing for herself because the waiter is paid for service and expects to give it without assistance. 

If soup is served she eats noiselessly from the side of her spoon, dipping from her and never attempting to fill the spoon to the dripping point or clean her plate. This may seem an unnecessary statement, but from recent observation I am inclined to the belief that if all women know these things, they do not practice them. 

Fish is generally eaten with a fork, which is sufficient to separate the flesh from the bones. It is allowable to use a knife when necessary, and it is usually provided for the purpose. There are innumerable other dishes when nothing more than a fork is necessary, like omelettes, croquettes and creamed meats or vegetables and salads. It is obvious that the fewer the implements at the table, the easier the process of eating, and if knife, fork and spoon are reserved for their separate uses, there is less likelihood of blunders. It is safe to use the fork wherever possible and neglect the knife when it can be done without discomfort and awkwardness. 

Spoons are necessary with liquids or semi-liquids, and that ought to be easy to remember. It ought not to be necessary to say that only small portions of food should he conveyed to the mouth and that speech should he tabooed until the morsels are swallowed, but here is just where serious fault can be found. Perfect chewing is done with closed lips and in silence, but the great majority are not doing either. There is chatter from beginning to finish, and so we hear of bad cases of indigestion, and accusations of bolting the food. 

Refinement in eating and drinking cannot be too strongly dwelt upon, and the importance of beginning the training in childhood cannot be over-estimated. Feeding is not a pretty process at its best. There are small points in table etiquette which change from time to time and one may be pardoned for being unfamiliar with them. Any woman of ordinary perception can pick them up by merely waiting till she sees somebody do the correct thing. If there is a single article on the table whose use one does not know, it is best left in its place—neglect will easily pass for intentional in such a case. 

If a woman knows that she is not graceful with tea or service, she will do better to leave the pouring to the others, for it is good form to shirk service if one wishes. There is everything in this set of rules to stamp one with refinement if she heeds them, and nothing which could not, and should not, be a part of the simplest home life. —Betty Bradeen, 1909

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

Thursday, September 28, 2017

English Etiquette and Precedence

Caricature of the Prince of Wales from 1878– "The structure of society is such that men and women of rank think it of importance that they should be formally honored wherever they may be, not only before those who are without rank, but those persons who hold a rank inferior to their own."

It is said that when General Grant was in London recently, and went to dinner at the Prince of Wales', he was obliged to go out to the table behind the titled Nobility. English etiquette, it is declared, requires that an untitled foreigner, however eminent, should give precedence, as it is called, to Englishmen of rank. Whether this is true or not, it is certain that etiquette is carried to a great extreme in England, as in other European countries. 

The structure of society is such that men and women of rank think it of importance that they should be formally honored wherever they may be, not only before those who are without rank, but those persons who hold a rank inferior to their own. This etiquette runs through nearly all phases and even all grades of English society; in the private mansion, in receptions at Court, in the army and navy, in official and Diplomatic circles, and also to some extent among the mercantile and middle classes. 

At a dinner-party, for instance, the hostess on repairing to the table always claims the arm of the guest highest in rank present. A member of the Royal family always comes first: then a Duke, a Marquis, an Earl and so on. The rest of the guests go out in the order of their rank, the one of the lowest rank going out last. This rigid rule is sometimes relaxed in favor of a guest in whose special honor the dinner may be given. In such cases, the hostess leads this guest out, even before persons of a higher rank than himself; and however it may have been at the Prince of Wales’, it is probable that General Grant was usually accorded this honor when he went as the guest of an English house. 

There is an official table which decides the precedence of each of the Royal family, the Nobility and the great officers of state; and this table determines how the company shall be placed on all public occasions, and in what order they shall walk or drive in processions or stage pageants. According to this “table of precedence,” the Sovereign comes first; then all her sons in order of birth; then all her daughters in the same order; then her grand-children in the same order; finally her uncles, aunts and cousins. After the Royal family, the Archbishop of Canterbury holds the highest rank of precedence; then the Lord High Chancellor; then the Archbishop of York; then Dukes, then Marquises and so on.  —Youth's Companion, 1878

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

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Etiquette and Moralizing Character

Petrus Alphonsi's rules for diners explained a necessity of eating only from one's own bowl, taking small bites, wiping the mouth before drinking, and emptying the mouth before speaking. – "Alfonsi's fame rests mainly on 'thirty-three tales' composed in Latin, at the beginning of the 12th century. This work is a collection of oriental tales of 'moralizing character' or manners." – Mary Ellen Snodgrass

Storyteller and moralist Petrus Alphonsi's Disciplina Clericalis, or Training for a Gentleman, (ca 1100 CE) written in the form of a dialogue between father and son, explained the rudiments of offering guests water for washing hands. Rules for diners explained a necessity of eating only from one's own bowl, taking small bites, wiping the mouth before drinking, and emptying the mouth before speaking.

Similar guidebooks reminded the polite guest never to dredge food in the salt cellar. Correct salting required lifting grains of salt by means of a clean knife blade or extracting a pinch a time with clean fingers. An Italian guide, The Treatise on Courtesy, (ca 1200 CE), of Tomasino di Circlaria (or Thomasin von Zerklaere), rooted its advice in musings on gentility and correct behavior a table. The sensible precepts set forth in and other early European books on manners has changed little up to the present time. – Encyclopedia of Kitchen History

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Editor of the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia 

Etiquette from Fingers to Forks

Fingers were once used to perform the office now assigned to forks, in the highest and most refined circles of society. — (Above) A rare "bird set" in the Chantilly pattern.

The Duchess of Beaufort, dining once at Mme. de Guise's with King Henri IV of France, extended one hand to receive His Majesty's salutation, while she dipped the fingers of the other hand into a dish to pick out what was to her taste. This incident happened in the year 1598. It demonstrates that less than three hundred years ago the fingers were still used to perform the office now assigned to forks, in the highest and most refined circles of society. 
At about this time, in fact, was the turning point when forks began to be used at the table as they are now. 

When we reflect how nice were the ideas of that refined age on all matters of outer decency and behavior, and how strict was the etiquette of the Courts we may well wonder that the fork was so late in coming into use as a table furnishing. The ladies of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were not less proud of a delicate, well kept hand than those of our own days, and yet they picked the meat from the platter with their slender white fingers, and in them bore it to their mouths. The fact is all the more remarkable, because the form of the fork was familiar enough, and its application to other uses was not uncommon.—J. Von Folke in Popular Science Monthly, via the Press Democrat, 1899

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

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Toothpick Etiquette Lesson

It is narrow and provincial to despise people for their disregard of certain small rules of etiquette. The things we despise them for, which may be glaring errors in Seattle or New York, may be again, as like as not, the correct thing in Paris and London

 A Visit to London and a Little Lesson In Etiquette

“I ran over for a short visit to London,” said a globe trotter. “On the boat was a pretty widow from Altona who disgusted and amused all hands one day by saying; 'I am surprised that a fast and expensive boat like this should fail to supply us with toothpicks."
  She thought toothpicks indispensable, like napkins or forks. For thinking so, we set her down as a hecker. 

But wait. I dined during my visit in London at Prince's, in Piccadilly and at the Savoy, in the room that overlooks the embankment and the river, and at the Carlton, where I paid a dollar for a plate of soup, and at all of these restaurants, which are admittedly the finest, the smartest and the most fashionable in the world. At all of them there were toothpicks on the table, each toothpick done up in a sterilized envelope.' This taught me a lesson. It taught me that it is narrow and provincial to despise people for their disregard of certain small rules of etiquette. The things we despise them for, which may be glaring errors in Seattle or New York, may be again, as like as not, the correct thing in Paris and London.”— New York Press, 1906

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

Fork, Spork and Knork Etiquette

(Above) An Albert Coles, coin silver, pickle fork– These were popular in the mid-19th century. Often sold in sets with knives, for eating pickled foods, they fell in and out of fashion quickly. Foods like pickled eggs, pickled pigs feet, pickled peaches, pickled asparagus, etc... were  elegantly eaten by using these forks.
(Above) Corn on the cob with a wide variety of forks and holders.–Green corn was a popular Victorian era food to serve. Rarely seen on fine dining tables today, corn on its cob was served then, as finger bowls were also at the table for each guest.
(Above) Two different melon forks, one in silver plate with a hollow handle and the other, in sterling. In France, melon forks were usually sold in sets with knives. In the U.S., most were sold as individual forks for dining.

(Above) A pie, pickle or even a "Nelson fork" — Some fork designs were sold for different purposes in different regions of the U.S. and in Europe. Other utensils were modified a bit to suit new foods, as foods that were considered delicacies, fell into and out of,  fashion. A "Nelson fork" was a fork adapted for eating with one hand, after British Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson lost his arm while fighting Napolean at Tenerife.

(Above) An individual, Victorian cheese fork. These can be brought out with the fruit and cheese course or placed for each guest above the plate with a fork and spoon for dessert.

(Above) Two individual corn forks (or knorks - knife-fork combinations), a small and large, and one individual corn scraper. Corn forks were made with one side a bit thinner and sharp, for scraping the kernels from one's corn at the table, if one was not given a corn scraper or corn stripper. Corn scrapers or strippers, were used like forks, but they were designed with "teeth" to cut the kernels off a cob at the table. The rule that no more than 3 forks are to be set to the left of a place setting, meant that some forks or dining tools, were brought out with the food itself, for each guest. Otherwise, Victorian era place settings would be too large for a regular dining table to accommodate more than one guest at each side of the table.

I have a theory a bit different than the common belief shared by many who have written books on Victorian habits and dining. The majority of them propagate the belief that it was a fear of foods being tainted by other humans, which created such a demand for the vast amount of designs for silver utensils in late 19th to early 20th centuries. (With our abundant use of hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial soaps, what will future generations say about us?) It’s true, there were inventors with patents obtained for sanitary cups, clips for drinking glasses, utensils and straws, etc... during the late 1800s and early 1900s. But I believe it was a complex combination of factors that drove the rush to create new pieces of table silver. The first may have been what lay in tin cans. 

When a Parisian candy maker named Nicolas Appert won 12,000 francs in 1809, it was for his inventing a new way to preserve foods. Prior to that time, pickling or salting and drying were the preferred methods of preserving foods. Napoleon had offered the prize of 12,000 francs, while preparing to invade Russia. With severe malnutrition decimating his troops, he knew he needed another way of stocking and preserving foods for something as involved as his Russian campaign. Appert used widemouthed, corked glass bottles that he filled with food, and heated in boiling water to find that solution. This new method of safely preserving foods, led to the invention of “tinned foods” or, the tin can, by Englishman Peter Durand. Tin cans would soon be used for feeding the British navy and army. New “tinning” or canning also meant more foods were available to the masses, as spoilage was no longer an issue. Price was still a concern for most consumers outside the military, though. 

"I thought about how mothers feed their babies with tiny little spoons and forks so I wondered, what do Chinese mothers use? Toothpicks?" –Comedian George Carlin ~ (Above) The smallest forks in the fork family are for cherries and berries. They also work well when eating kumquats. 

Early tinned and canned items were too expensive for those in the lower, and even middle-class income brackets, at the time. Sardines were one imported tinned food that the wealthy could afford to serve, so sardine servers, dishes and tongs, like those pictured, were offered in abundance at the time. Tinned sardines and other such foods, offered an elegant way to not only outdo one’s neighbors, but an easy way illuminate one’s home.

A very well lit home was coveted in an era when candlelight and gaslight were the only substitutes for the sun. Mirrors, tin ceilings, gold and the all important, silver dining accoutrements, combined with sparkling crystal, all reflected one’s well-placed candles and chandeliers. Pricey wall sconces were designed with numerous concave "reflectors," adding to a sconce's output of light. The number one factor for such a variety of silver and gold laid out at one’s table was surely light.   

(Above) Combination fork and spoons, like these for terrapin (turtle soup) or ice cream and desserts, were very popular for entertaining in the Victorian era.

Another important factor was that once an inexpensive form of silver plating was devised – electroplating– , the ownership of silver was no longer limited to the wealthy. Housewives and new brides could afford much less expensive silver items, which certainly added to the growing numbers. As silver had only been available to the wealthier in society, an overwhelming public demand soon grew for utensils or servers, designed with anything or everything edible, or drinkable, in mind. 

Marketing strategies were clever, too. If you didn't know you "needed" silver for your table, advertisements in women's magazines and newspapers, told you they were necessities. They were touted as "heirlooms of the future", so even if you hadn't felt a great need for them, all your descendants would certainly appreciate your thoughtfulness. One wouldn’t want to deprive their grandchildren of orange spoons with gold-washed, vermeil bowls, or bonbon spoons, like those pictured? Of course not!" –– Etiquipedia© Site Editor, Maura J. Graber, from her upcoming book, "Reach for the Right Fork"

Monday, September 18, 2017

The European Etiquette Evolution

For many years after the fork's introduction, they were considered a ridiculous affectation and foppery. Before forks, using the "fingers of courtesy" were the best mannered method of eating.

 Some Curious Table Manners of 
Europe's "Good Old Days"

It was into in the fourteenth century when the first evidences of art in the shape of silver cups were noticeable on the buffet. The dishes were made of pewter or wood, and spoons of bone, wood or silver. Knives were rare, and on that account guests invited to feasts carried their own knives. Forks came in general use still later, and for long years after their introduction they were considered ridiculous affectation and foppery, and not nearly so convenient as one’s own fingers. 

The Lord and his Lady dipped their fingers into the same plate and sipped their wine from the same cup. Even the Queenly Elizabeth, with all her elaborate ideas of etiquette, was content to carry her food to her month with her fingers, and at first despised the newly invented fork as unseemly and awkward. Very gradually the dinning-hall grew in comfort and splendor. Dishes of gold and silver were made, and so eager were the nobles for them that they would sacrifice any thing to possess them. 

The salt-cellar was for a long time the article of highest importance on the board. It was a great affair and stood directly in the center of the table; It was the dividing line; the nobles were seated above the salt, the commoners below; hence grew the proverb: “Below the salt.” The passing of salt was a ceremonious custom, the guest throwing a pinch over his left shoulder and murmuring a blessing. The salt-cellars were of the most curious devices. Sometimes they represented huge animals, sometimes a great, full-blown flower on a long, slender stem, and again they were in the shape of a chariot, mounted on four wheels, on which they were easily run down the table. 

The first glass cups came from Venice during the sixteenth century, and from that time on,  society began to lose many of its primitive ways, and became, in a sense, more refined. Henry VIII was born with luxurious tastes; he had his banquet chairs supplied with velvet cushions, and about this time the parlor or “talking room,” as it was called, was introduced; and here the dames took refuge when the dinner advanced beyond prudent limits, as it invariably did before the finish. 

The cook that presided over the kitchen in those days was not the counterpart of our nineteenth century Bridget, but he was an artist, and generally a man of quality. The ladies of the household, oven those of noble birth, attended to many domestic duties, making the bread, preserving the fruits, while to understand the proper use of starch, was considered a great accomplishment. – The Enterprise and Scimitar, 1888

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Etiquette for Canada

This is basic handshaking etiquette. Overall, it is good advice for any country where handshakes are expected — First, shake hands firmly. This gives the impression that you are genuine and confident. Hold the handshake for one or two seconds and shake steadily from your elbow. However, avoid an overly powerful handshake; Do not crush the other person’s hand in yours.

Customs and Etiquette Written 
for Those Moving or Migrating to Canada

There is a certain set of etiquette expectations that Canadians have in any professional or social setting, from how you shake hands to your basic manners.

First, shake hands firmly. This gives the impression that you are genuine and confident. Hold the handshake for one or two seconds and shake steadily from your elbow. However, avoid an overly powerful handshake; in other words, do not crush the other person’s hand in yours.

Making eye contact is an important, and often neglected, sign of mutual acknowledgement and respect. Also continue to make natural eye contact with others, without staring uncomfortably. If you’re in a meeting or interview with several people, move your gaze between the people in the room.

General good manners are also very important. Do hold a door open for someone else, male or female, let your boss exit the elevator first and do not interrupt others while speaking.

Don’t be shy to say “I’m sorry,” “Please,” and “Thank you.” While in some cultures, it’s all important to “save face,” which makes apologizing difficult, but in Canada those words can smooth things over quickly, instead of allowing ill feelings to harbour. Also, say “I’m sorry” or “Excuse me” when walking by a person too closely. Walking into somebody’s “personal space” is considered enough grounds for an apology.

If you did not hear something properly, do not say “What?”, but politely say, “I’m sorry, I did not hear what you said, can you please repeat it?” or “Pardon me?” Always make the other person feel confident and never bring them down.

Etiquette extends to your physical appearance as well. While Canada is a multicultural environment, there is something to be said for clean, crisp business attire. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring touches of your culture to your appearance, be it in colour or jewellery, etc., but subtle is best.

The same thing goes for grooming. Be aware of food smells clinging to your clothes, which can turn some people off. And personal hygiene. In other words, keep some breath mints on you!

Don’t forget to smile. It’s a sign that you’re a positive person, even in times of difficulty. When speaking on a phone, smile into the phone as well. While the person you are speaking with cannot see you, they can feel your smile radiate positive energy!

A few words must be said about etiquette with neighbours. Often, when you move into your first house in the new community, your neighbours will knock on your door. Most of the time they want to present you with a card or a gift basket, to congratulate you on your new home. Be polite to your neighbours, always say hi when you see them on the street. If you do not wish, there is no need to engage in a lengthy conversation, but it is important to acknowledge them when you see them.

Canadians are often more uptight about inviting people into their home. It is unlikely that they will keep the door open for you to walk in any time of the day to have tea. People will schedule parties or coffee dates, but most of the time this will be somewhere outside the house. Many neighbours live side by side many years, and never see the inside of each other’s houses.

If you do happen to invite people over, remember, that in Canada, people gather to socialize, not to feast! In many cultures, it is very important to serve a huge table of food. For many it is taken as an offence if somebody comes to your house, but does not eat what you serve them. However, this is not the case in Canada. When inviting people, place snacks or finger food on the table.

Another interesting thing to note is that neighbours are often very vigilant about rules. Canadians are brought up with an understanding that they must report a crime or any suspicious activity. Do not be surprised that the neighbour who gave you a warm welcome when you just moved in is the same person who called the by-law officer because your car was not parked properly. — Fom by , March 2012

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

Friday, September 15, 2017

Table Etiquette of 1899

Mary Barr Munroe was a Miami pioneer who contributed much to the community life of Coconut Grove. Mrs. Munroe founded the southern Tropical Audubon Society. As a member of the Florida Federation of Women's Clubs, she was instrumental in the establishment Royal Palm Park (later the Everglades National Park.) Mrs. Munroe also started the Coconut Grove Library in 1895 and taught many children in Coconut Grove how to read. She strongly believed, and proved, that women can make a great difference.
Helpful Hints on the Uses of Knives, Forks, Spoons and Fingers
Those who are very particular, hold the large end of a spear of asparagus with a fork, while with the tip end of a knife they daintily separate the tender green tops from the white end, which is then put aside. Others take the white end between the fingers and carry it to the mouth. Both are correct, but the former is much more dainty and easily done. 

The etiquette of eating a soft boiled egg has been the subject of more than one clever essay. The English custom is to eat it directly from the shell, when of course a small egg cup and egg spoon are necessary. The American way is to break the egg into a cup or glass by striking the egg in the center and turning the contents into the glass. In this case it is usually eaten with a teaspoon, as an egg spoon, unless extra large, would be too small, and we have seen the egg held by a corner of the napkin, but this is not only tiresome but difficult to do nicely without soiling the napkin. 

Celery is always taken from the dish and carried to the mouth by the fingers. If individual salts are not provided, it is etiquette to use one half of the butter plate for salt. If salt shakers are used, hold the celery in the left hand just over the rim of your plate and gently sprinkle it with salt, and the old custom of putting a spoonful of salt on the cloth is still in practice. 

When corn is served on the cob it must be taken in the fingers, only managed very daintily. We have seen pretty little doylies for the purpose of holding it, but it is a question if that is not carrying table linen too far. Many housekeepers, and especially in the south, serve corn as a separate course, when finger bowls are placed by each plate and removed with the course. 

Lettuce when served without dressing is always pulled to pieces with the fingers. This is usually the lady’s duty and there is no prettier picture than that of a young lady preparing a plate of fiesh, crisp lettuce leaves in this way, for the tender green shows off to perfection her dainty white hands and she may be as exquisitely neat about it as she likes, and it is one of the most fascinating and becoming of table duties that a hostess can possibly provide for her lady guests, to assist in helping the gentlemen at a social or informal meal. 

Watercress is also taken in the fingers and the prettiest way of serving it is to obtain a long low sided basket or dish, in the bottom of which lay a folded napkin, then heap the cress so as to fill the basket and you have not only an enjoyable, but a very ornamental dish for the breakfast table. 

When a slice of lemon is served with fish or meat it is much more correct to take the slice in the fingers, double the ends together and gently squeeze the juice over the article than to use a knife for that purpose, as is sometimes done. It is always proper to help one's self to bread, cheese and lump sugar, if tongs arc not provided, with the fingers. 

Never use your own knife, fork or spoon to take from the dish. It is also correct if a plate of hot, unbroken biscuits is passed, to not only break off for yourself with your fingers, but for your neighbor also. When things are passed, help yourself as quickly as possible, for you must not keep others waiting and never insist on some one else being served before you, if the host or hostess has honored you first. —Mary Barr Munroe in Good Housekeeping, 1899

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

Monday, September 11, 2017

Etiquette — Salty but Polite

Food service on airplane flights used to be expected and plentiful, but those days are long gone for regular airline travelers. Nowadays, if you don't bring your own, you're likely to go without, unless you are in first-class. — "Some people will tell you to bring a cup of noodles or other instant soup aboard a flight and ask the flight attendant for boiling water during meal service. Although a mug of hot soup may sound enticing, it’s a bad idea to keep a cup of scalding liquid near your lap when turbulence could strike at any second. Plus, many prepackaged ramen cups have close to half of your daily recommendation of sodium, which certainly won’t help you fight jet bloat." —from

An airplane manufacturer has just announced that all passenger machines will be equipped with regular dining rooms, so— That leaves it up to some etiquette expert to suggest something salty, but polite, for the passenger to say when the ship goes into a tail-spin during dinner and spills the soup in his lap. — Coronado Eagle and Journal, 1932

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

Etiquette and Hypocrisy

Manners are more than just knowing the rules. It is living them that counts. Pictured above — Dinner from the movie Titanic with a group of supposed ladies and gentlemen. Yet few at this table in the movie, have really earned the titles, or live up to them, in their truest forms. 

Of Methods and Manners

Different persons have entirely different opinions in regard to taste and etiquette. Some are stricklers for certain manifestations, of good breeding, while others lay stress upon other and quite dissimilar rules of behavior. For instance: 

  • There are men who would be ashamed to eat with their knives, even in private, but who will talk at the top of their voices in the public reading-room.
  • And men who, though they would scorn to remain seated in a horse car while a pretty girl is standing, will throw a banana skin on the sidewalk, regardless of the inevitable consequence. 
  • And women who are scrupulously neat as to hands and fingers, but who will, nevertheless, persist in wearing the biggest hat at the theater that they can possibly get hold of. 
  • And women who sing like seraphs, and yet will they keep the rear window wide open, though they know that it means pneumonia to one-half of their fellow passengers, and catarrh and sore throat to the other half. 
  • And men who never forget to lift their hats to a lady, but who cannot be trusted with impunity for a dollar. 
  • And women who would die rather than eat their soup from the end of their spoon, but who will lie like Ananias upon the slightest provocation.
  • And women whose conversation is a liberal education and perennial delight to the listener, and yet their hair presents firstclass presumptive evidence that it hasn't had the acquaintance with comb and brush for a month, at least.  
  • And men who are scrupulously careful to give a lady the inside of the walk, and yet think nothing of calling upon you at your busiest hour and boring you until you until you wish you were dead. 
  • And boys who never forget to say "Yes, sir," and "Yes, ma'am," but who are taken with sudden sickness the moment they are asked to do an errand for their mothers. 
  • And girls who do not have to be coaxed to play upon the piano before company, but who will turn around and giggle when a strange man makes remarks about them in the street. 
  • And men who would not clean their nails in public, but who will shove a pewter quarter on to a blind man about them in the street. 
  • And men who would never interrupt another while he is speaking, but who will advise their best friend to invest in a worthless stock, simply because they have some of that slock which they wish to dispose of. 
  • And men who are too polite to look over your shoulder when you are writing, who think nothing of registering false oaths at the Custom-house almost daily. 

Many more instances might be adduced, but the above will suffice to show that we do not all think alike upon these little matters of etiquette. — Boston Transcript, 1885

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

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Etiquette, Snobbery and Satire

"Say 'good morning' or 'good evening' to the hostess, on leaving the room. 'So long, old girl' has gone out in the best society." — Burdette ~ When Emily Post wrote about the behavior of "Best Society" in her 1922 book of etiquette, she enlightened some readers and at the same time, opened the door to satire from others. Etiquette humor is much older than many think. It has been popular for ages, and will continue to be so, as long as some readers and writers of etiquette, continue to confuse etiquette with snobbery.

Recent Points in Etiquette

  • Say "good morning" or "good evening" to the hostess, on leaving the room. "So long, old girl" has gone out in the best society. 
  • If there are seventy-five or 100 persons in the company, it is not necessary for you to shake hands all round. 
  • Do not be in haste to get down to dinner without waiting for a tardy guest. Give him at least thirty minutes. You may have to get down on your hands and knees and crawl around and feel for a lost collar button yourself sometime. 
  • Upon introduction to a young lady, immediately ask her age and the size of her shoes. This will put you on an easy conversational plane. 
  • In society, a note requires as prompt an answer as a spoken question. And in the bank it requires a great deal prompter one. 
  • Do not thank any one who waits on you at table. Look wan and hungry as though you wanted more. 
  • To tilt back in your chair and drum idly on your head with your fork is condemned in good society.— "Burdette" in the Marin Journal, 1881

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

More 1800s Etiquette Humor

"Every Saturday" was an American literary magazine published in Boston, Massachusetts, in the mid-19th century. Mark Twain was one contributor. By the amount of humorous articles Etiquipedia has found on dining etiquette, written during the Gilded Age in America, it is clear that those who did not have the benefit of dining at the finest tables, sought refuge in laughter at the peculiar seeming manners of those who did.

Table Etiquette
  • Bread should be broken, not cut; but if you don’t like bread, ‘cut’ it. In ‘breaking’ bread use a curb bit. 
  • Don’t fill your mouth too full; rather allow some of the food to get into your moustache. Split a biscuit with your fingers, instead of opening it with a knife like an oyster. lf the biscuit be hard, a beetle and wedge are admissible in the best society. 
  • Salt should never be put on the table cloth, but on the side of your plate. If, however, you want to pickle the tablecloth in brine, you must put salt on it, of course. 
  • Do not rattle your knife and fork. A knife and spoon will be found more musical. 
  • Eat your soup from the side of your spoon, either inside or outside. 
  • Do not take game in your fingers. This, however, does not apply to a game at cards. 
  • Do not rest your arms on the tablecloth. Stack your arms in a corner of the room before beginning dinner. 
  • When asked what part of the fowl you prefer, answer promptly. If you want the whole of it, don't hesitate to say so. 
  • Do not drink with the spoon in your cup; put it in your pocket. Forgetting it, you will be so much ahead. A close regard to this rule has enabled Ben Butler to accumulate a competency. 
  • Never leave the table until all are through, without sufficient excuse. The sudden entrance of a policeman with a warrant for your arrest, is generally considered sufficient excuse in polite circles. 
  • Never help yourself to articles of food with your knife or fork. Use a harpoon or lassoo. 
  • When you have finished your meal lay your knife and fork on your plate, side by side, with the handles toward the right, a little south by southwest, bearing northerly when the wind is off the side-board quarter. –Every Saturday, 1880

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

Gilded Age Etiquette Humor

Frontier humorist, Bill Nye, more formally known as Edgar Wilson Nye, was the first editor of the "Laramie Boomerang." He named the Wyoming paper for his mule, because of what he described as the “eccentricity of his orbit.”

Bill Nye’s Delicate Hints Upon Table Manners in Fashionable Society

There are a great many people who behave well otherwise, but at table they do things that if not absolutely outré and ensemble, are at least pianissimo and sine die. It is with a view to elevate the popular taste and etherealize, so to speak, the manners and customs of our readers, that we give below a few hints upon table etiquette. 

If, by writing an article of this kind, we can induce one man who wipes his hands on the table-cloth to come up and take higher ground and wipe on his pants, we shall feel amply repaid. If you cannot accept an invitation to dinner, do not write your regrets on the back of a pool check with a blue pencil. This is not regarded as ricochetA simple note to your host, informing him that your washwoman refuses to relent, is sufficient. 

On seating yourself at the table, draw off your gloves and put them in your lap, under your napkin. Do not put them into the gravy, as it would ruin the gloves and cast a gloom over the gravy. If yon have just cleaned your gloves with benzine, you will leave them out in the front yard. If you happen to drop gravy on your knife-blade, back near the handle, do not run the blade down your throat to remove the gravy as it might injure your epiglottis, and it is not embonpoint, any way. 

Oranges are held on a fork while being pulled, and the facetious style of squirting the juice into the eyes of the hostess is now au revoirStones in cherries or other fruit should not be placed upon the table-cloth, but slid quietly and unostentatiously into the pocket of your neighbor or noiselessly tossed under the table. If you strke a worm in your fruit do not call attention to it by mashing it with the nut cracker. This is not only uncouth, but it is regarded in the best society as blasé and exceedingly vice vena

After eating a considerable amount, do not rise and unbutton your vest strap in order to get more room, as it is not exactly aufait and deshabille– The Boomerang, 1881

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

Friday, September 8, 2017

Victorian Table Etiquette

Spoons are sometimes used with puddings, but forks are the better style and a spoon should never be turned over in the mouth.

Domestic Notes on Table Etiquette
A writer in Harper's Bazaar takes up her pen to put us all to rights on our behavior at the table. We give a part of her lecture as follows: 
  • A cream-cake, and anything of similar nature, should be eaten with knife and fork, never bitten. Asparagus may be taken from the finger and thumb. 
  • Peas and beans, as we all know, require the fork only. 
  • Potatoes, if mashed, should be mashed with the fork. 
  • Green corn should be eaten from the cob, but it must be held with a single hand. 
  • Celery, cresses, radishes, and all that sort of thing, are, of course, to be eaten from the fingers; the salt should be laid upon one's plate, not upon the cloth. 
  • Fish is to be eaten with the fork,without the assistance of the knife; a bit of bread in the left hand sometimes helps one to master a refractory morsel. 
  • Berries, of course, are to be eaten with a spoon. 
  • It is not proper to drink with a spoon in the cup; nor should one, by the way, ever quite drain the cup or glass. 
  • Spoons are sometimes used with puddings, but forks are the better style. 
  • A spoon should never be turned over in the mouth. 
  • Ladies have frequently an affected way of holding the knife half way down its length, as if it were too big for their little hands, but this is as awkward a way as it is weak. The knife should be grasped freely by the handle only, the forefinger being the only one to touch the blade, and that only along the back of the blade at its root, and no further down. 
  • In sending one's plate to be helped a second time, one should retain one's knife and fork, for the convenience of waiter and carver. 
  • At the conclusion of a course, where they have been used, kuife and fork should be laid side by side on the plate, never crossed; the old custom of crossing them was in obedience to an ancient religious formula. 
  • The servant should offer everything at the left of the guest, that the guest may be at liberty to use the right hand. 
  • If one has been given a napkin-ring, it is necessary to fold one's napkin and use the ring; otherwise the napkin should be left unfolded. 
  • One's teeth are not to be picked at the table; but if it is impossible to hinder it, it should be done behind the napkin. 
  • One may pick a bone at the table, but, as with corn, only one hand is allowed to touch it; yet one can usually get enough from it with knife and fork, which is certainly the more elegant way of doing; to take her teeth to it gives a lady the look of caring a little too much for the pleasures of the table; one is, however, on no account to suck one's fingers after it. 
  • Wherever there is any doubt as to the best way to do a thing, it is wise to follow that which is the most rational, and that will almost invariably be found to be the proper etiquette
There is a reason for everything in polite usage; thus the reason why one does not blow a thing to cool it, is not only that it is an inelegant and vulgar action intrinsically, but because it may be offensive to others –cannot help being so indeed; and it, moreover, implies haste, which, whether resulting from greediness or from a desire to get away, is equally rude and objectionable. Everything else may be as easily traced to its origin in the fit and becoming. 

If, to conclude, one seats ones-self properly at the table, and takes reason into account, one will do tolerably well. One must not pull one's chair too closely to the table, for the natural result of that is the inability to use one's knife and fork without inconveniencing one's neighbors; the elbows are to be held well in and close to one's side, which cannot be done if the chair is too near the board. One must not lay or lean along the table, nor rest one's arms upon it. – April, 1879

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

Bedouin Dining Etiquette

On Arabs - “One of the greatest and most common mistakes is to generalise about ‘the Arabs’. One might just as well generalise about Europeans. Moroccans and Dubaians are both Arabs the same as Swedes and Italians are both Europeans, but there the similarity ends. Even commonality of language is not as great as many think. Whilst it is true that written Arabic is uniform from country to country, spoken Arabic is extremely dialectic to the extent that a Moroccan and a Dubaian each speaking her own dialect of Arabic would find it difficult to understand each other because the former dialect is heavily influenced by Berber and the latter by Farsi. The code of proper behaviour is remarkably consistent from one Arab country to another, basically varying only in intensity. It is impossible to cover all local variations. Not surprisingly, the strictest interpretation and observance is in the heartland of both the Arabs and Islam; what is now the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi custom will therefore be the benchmark of what follows because if one behaves properly on Saudi standards, he is unlikely to go astray in any other Arab country.” -

Dining with the Bedouins – 

“Before we began to eat, there was the hand-wash enjoined by the Koran. The water was poured on our hands out of a jug outside the tent, about half a pint being allotted to each. The process was brief. The Arabs swung their hands, flapped them on their garments, and it was done—and they were no cleaner than before. This clearly was not the hygienic operation which Mohammed intended it to be, but as may be inferred fiom this description, people here, as elsewhere, are prone to obey the letter of the law rather than its spirit. I observed subsequently that when they desired to cleanse themselves more thoroughly they rubbed their hands with sand, and on rare occasions with soap. Semi-purified, we returned to our places in the tent, and the repast was served without a woman in sight. 

“It consisted of a huge wooden bowl, about three feet in diameter, lined with thin batter cakes and overhanging the sides, the bowl being filled with boiled rice saturated with grease, probably butter made from goat's or camel's milk; in the centre of the rice was piled up a quantity of boiled mutton. The chief setting the example, we fell to on this mess, while the retainers and our dragoman, off the carpets, eyed us with envy and watered mouths. 

“For a man accustomed to a knife and fork the eating presented difficulties, which, however, were partially overcome by closely observing the men who have never known any aid in this way, than what nature has given them. Yet they have an etiquette which governs them as tyrannically as our own. Only the right hand may be thrust into the bowl. He who eats with the left is ill-bred, and he who employs both, is a glutton. 

“We imitated our hosts as well as we could; thrust the right hand into the rice, made a ball of it the size of a hen's egg, I squeezed the superfluous water and grease out of it, and twitched it into the mouth by a dexterous movement of the thumb, after the Bedouin manner, pronouncing occasionally the indispensable ‘taib’ in compliment to the Amphitryon. Another feature of Arab etiquette was to confine oneself to the same place in taking from the bowl, each one making his own hole and remaining therein. 

“In the beginning of the repast there is not so much trouble in observing the rule; but when the general level of the rice and mutton lowered it required care to remain on the preempted domain, and not invade that of the neighbor. The rule was hardly observed by my neighbor on the left, who was a voracious eater, with an indifferently clean hand; he at length ate away the barrier, entered my territory, and pushed me to the right, where I fed on a narrow ledge until my appetite was satisfied: when this gave way, and the two holes merged into one, I stopped.”—Albert Rhodes, in "The Galaxy", 1876

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