Saturday, July 7, 2018

Medieval French Table Manners

Mirth and Gladness lead a Dance in this miniature from a manuscript of “The Roman de la Rose,” in the Bodleian Library – (image, public domain)

A famous French poem from the 13th Century, “The Roman de la Rose,” gives advice regarding a woman’s table manners. 

“She ought also to behave properly at table...

  • She must be very careful not to dip her fingers in the sauce up to the knuckles, nor to smear her lips with soup or garlic or fat meat, nor to take too many pieces or too large a piece and put them in her mouth. 
  • She must hold the morsel with the tips of her fingers and dip it into the sauce, whether it be thick, thin, or clear, then convey the mouthful with care, so that no drop of soup or sauce or pepper falls on to her chest. 
  • When drinking, she should exercise such care that not a drop is spilled upon her, for anyone who saw that happen might think her very rude and coarse. 
  • And she must be sure never to touch her goblet when there is anything in her mouth. Let her wipe her mouth so clean that no grease is allowed to remain upon it, at least not upon her upper lip, for when grease is left on the upper lip, globules appear in the wine, which is neither pretty nor nice.”

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