Saturday, April 20, 2024

Etiquette and Punctuality in Meals

The person whose business it is to lay the cloth must have it quite ready, with plenty of warm plates, a few minutes before time, and be at leisure to carry in the dinner the moment it is taken up. Masters and mistresses who expect to have their cooking properly done, should see that the cook is furnished with every convenience.


Punctuality in a cook is no mean virtue. Employers who expect a cook to be punctual should be so themselves. To secure punctuality, the cook should exercise thought and early rising. In case of company to dinner, the cook should be as early as possible apprized of it, that she may prepare soups, jellies, and other made dishes the day before, or at least early in the morning, before the bustle of roasting and boiling comes on, and before it is necessary to prepare the fire for those purposes.

There should be no after-thoughts in the arrangements for dinner, but let the cook have at once specific orders of all that will be required, that she may allow the exact time necessary for each article, and have each ready at hand to set forward in due succession. Pepper, salt, flour, mustard, etc… should be kept in regular supply for the daily business of cooking. 

Even in a small family, a quarter of an hour should be allowed for serving up dinners, and at least as long a time for unforseen delay and hindrances. The person whose business it is to lay the cloth must have it quite ready, with plenty of warm plates, a few minutes before time, and be at leisure to carry in the dinner the moment it is taken up. Masters and mistresses who expect to have their cooking properly done, should see that the cook is furnished with every convenience.– From “The Housekeeper's Guide: Or, A Plain & Practical System of Domestic Cookery,” by Esther Copley, 1838


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

Friday, April 19, 2024

Indian Dining and Table Etiquette


Currently, I am immersed in the vibrant culture of incredible India. I've had the pleasure of indulging in sumptuous curries ranging from meat to vegetables, grains and pulses using the age-old tradition of eating curry with one's fingers as I travel India or known locally as Bharat ( derived from the Sanskrit name for the country.) I've embraced the centuries-old motto and tweaked it a little, 'When in India, do as the Indians do.' I've found myself eschewing utensils in favour of the tactile connection afforded by using my fingers. It's a practice that prompted a deeper reflection on the origins of utensil use.

The act of eating with one's hands also has historical and utensil-usage implications. In the book ‘Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005’ Coffin et al. explains that utensils like knives, forks, and spoons have enriched our dining experiences by acting as extensions of our hands, suggesting an evolution from direct hand-to-food to changes in dining etiquettes and experiences over centuries.

Eating with your hands is not just a cultural norm, it's an integral part of the dining experience. Using your fingers to scoop up flavourful curries with rice or bread connects you more intimately with the food and heightens the sensory experience. Before you start, most restaurants will make a basin available in the dining room to wash your hands. Traditionally, you will use your right hand to eat, as the left hand is considered unclean.

Bread, known as roti, naan, paratha, chapati, and the list goes on, are just a few examples of the diverse array of breads found in Indian cuisine, each with its unique texture, flavour, and cooking method. These breads are central to Indian cuisine, serving as the perfect accompaniment to curries that could contain lentils or chickpeas, and grilled meats. They are my favourite accompaniment to an Indian meal. I use two techniques. One is to tear the bread and pick up the ‘dry’ curry with the bread. The second is to fold the bread in a cone shape to pick up the ‘wet’ curries.

Another way to eat curry is with rice. Depending on what part of India you are in, rice will vary from basmati to laal chawal, laal meaning red. You will be given a large serving of rice with various curries surrounding it. Find a clean space on your thali plate to scoop up a small portion of rice and curry. Mix the curry with the rice using only your fingertips, not the whole hand. This is done so the curry is absorbed into the rice, ready for you to eat and enjoy. Gently picking up the mixed food with your fingers, shape the rice and curry into a small bite-sized portion. Push the bite of food into your mouth by sliding the food down your fingers levered by your thumb. Be careful not to let your fingers touch your lips.

I hope this information is helpful to you. It’s always good to try to do as the locals do. It helps ensure that your culinary experiences in India are conducted with cultural sensitivity and authenticity. - Source, “Feeding Desire: Design and the Tools of the Table, 1500-2005”


For many years, Etiquipedia contributor, Elizabeth Soos, has had a keen interest in cultural customs. With her European background and extensive travel, Soos developed an interest in the many forms of respect and cultural expectations in the countries she has visited. With her 20 years’ experience in customer service within private international companies based in Australia, and her lifetime interest in manners and research, she decided to branch out into the field of etiquette and deportment. Through her self-directed studies and by completing the Train-The-Trainer’s course offered by Emma Dupont’s School of Etiquette in London and by Guillaume Rue de Bernadac at Academie de Bernadac based in Paris and Shanghai, she founded Auersmont School of Etiquette. Elizabeth is currently traveling throughout India and brushing up on her Hindi.



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

The Standard Designer illustrates some of the newest favors and gives directions for making not a few inexpensive but effective ones. 

Newest Cotillon Favors, 
Including “Queen Victoria” crowns…

The custom of giving cotillon favors during the dance comes from Germany, and the favors which come from there are very well made, though perhaps not as effective as those which are made here. 

In Paris beautiful favors are made also, but when imported here become very expensive. It is, however, no longer considered good form to give too expensive favors, and marvelously pretty articles can be made with small outlay.

The Standard Designer illustrates some of the newest favors and gives directions for making not a few inexpensive but effective ones.

To begin with, the banjo is one of the latest. It is made of cardboard and is entirely covered with tissue paper wound around and around. The strings of the banjo are made of gilt tinsel, such as is used on Christmas trees, and around the head are fastened roses made of crape or tissue paper to correspond in color. 

Satin ribbons are tied on the handle so that the favor can be worn slung over the shoulder. Some have bells instead of roses. Toy banjos can be bought and covered, and so save the expense of making them oneself.

Queen Victoria crowns are very new favors, and 100 of them have just been ordered for a cotillon to be given in New York. They are miniature crowns, made of fine wire, covered entirely with tiny pink roses and surmounted by a small gilt ball.

Large palm leaf fans may be transformed into lovely cotillon favors by pasting all over them closely on both sides small paper roses, violets, orchids or any other flower.

The cheapest cotillon favor which can be given is an ordinary tin fish horn. This is simply tied with a bow of ribbon. French horns are also much used as favors. They are generally of wood and are either gilded or silvered and tied also with ribbons. A pretty favor is the scented work bag made of satin brocade or other silken material.

Favors for men should be small. Rosettes of ribbon, different colors, to wear in the buttonhole, crape paper flowers for boutonnieres, cravat holders in silver, pen wipers, Japanese trifles of all kinds, including stamp boxes, account books, canes which pull out, forming candy boxes in the crook handle, and small lyres which are gilded and tied with ribbon. 

Only a very few of these articles can be made, but all can be bought at very little outlay. At all the large dances the favors are placed on a table and given out by one or more of the patronesses. Sometimes the leader of the cotillon takes them around from one couple to the other, as it comes their turn to dance, or else they go to the table and receive them from the patroness. -Ruth Ashmore in Ladies' Home Journal, 1897



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

Thursday, April 18, 2024

Gilded Age and “Good Form”

Depiction of a Gilded Age Dinner Party 


Good Form: How it Differs 
from That of the Past 
in Various Important Respects


In a little book entitled “Good Form,” the etiquette of some few years ago is amusingly contrasted with that of today, when every thing is more succinct and expeditious than it used to be. When the ladies of John Leech’s time went to dinner parties they were shown into bedrooms and allowed some minutes to adjust their ringlets. Now they hand their cloak to a servant, and walk straight from their carriage or cab to the presence of their hostess.

At weddings in “the Forties” each bridesmaid had a groomsman to look after her and see that she had what she liked at the elaborate breakfasts of the matrimonial function of that day. Now there is only a “best man,” though how he comes by the superlative adjective when he is sole groomsman it is difficult to say. Among other changes of custom is that concerned with the bridesmaids’ dresses, which used to be given by the bride, And our authoress might have added that it is no dry-eyed. Crying has “gone out.” It was the very height of the fashion in the year 1827.

When Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton married Miss Rosina Wheeler, an eye witness of the ceremony describes both bride and bridegroom as being overcome with “sensibility,” pale, tottering and tearful. No one totters to the altar now. It would not be “good form.” But the bride must not, on the other hand, romp up the aisle in the exultation of her heart. The correct pace perhaps, is best described as resembling that of a policeman on his beat. It is slow and stately.

Another marked change in social customs is mentioned in connection with the etiquette of “small and early” parties. No longer does a hostess ask her guests to sing or play. This ordeal, so dreaded by the girl of a couple of decades ago, is no longer to be feared. “I hope you have brought some music, Miss Smith,” was frequently the prelude to a distracting performance that gave pleasure to no one, least of all to the player. 
And, strange to say, now that music is always professional, and generally worth listening to, it is difficult to persuade people to remain silent while it is going on; whereas when amateurs were singing it would have been considered a shocking piece of rudeness for any one to have talked till the lady had finished describing how she wore a wreath of roses, or the gentleman had finished dilating upon his homeless, ragged and tanned condition.

At the dinner table it was considered the duty of the host and bostess to urge their guests to eat. This custom in our own day is entirely abandoned, partly owing to the now universal style of having all dishes handed round. The board no longer groans as once it did, the weight of the viands being transferred to that chapel of ease, the sideboard, where, in seclusion, a hireling carves the joint and skillfully dissects the bird whose anatomy used to prove such an intricate problem to the bothered amateur at the end of the table. Skill in carving is not now one of the polite accomplishments wherewith it is necessary to equip a youth for his social career. Till now, etiquette books have been only unintentionally amusing, but the present writer treats her subject with a sense of humor that makes it easy reading.—London Daily News, 1889


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

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

History, Food and Etiquette of Macau

My sister and I embarked on a ferry journey from Hong Kong to Macau, where upon submission of our passports, we were issued a paper insert akin to a train ticket before boarding. Upon arrival at the Macau ferry terminal, we effortlessly wheeled our suitcases to the complimentary bus services that transported us to our hotel-cum-casino. 

The luxurious accommodations and impeccable service at the hotel pleasantly surprised us, showcasing the advantages of staying in casino-affiliated establishments. After settling into our rooms, we donned our comfortable walking shoes and ventured down the main street to admire the charming Portuguese-inspired architecture that graced the cityscape.

Macau's story begins before explorers investigated new lands for trade, and colonisation. It belonged to the vast Ming Dynasty. It was in the mid-16th century. Portuguese traders arrived using it as a trading post in 1557, looking for new wares to take back to Europe and expand their empire.

An agreement allowed the Portuguese to settle on the Macau peninsula in exchange for rent and adherence to Chinese laws until 1887. This agreement laid the foundation for the world's first and longest-lasting European settlement in China until its handover in 1999. Today, it is a significant resort city and a top destination for gambling tourism and is more critical than Las Vegas.

The first known written record of the name "Macau", rendered as "A Ma Gang", is found in a historical material from 1555. It is a particular administrative region of the People's Republic of China.

Over the next 400 years, Macau flourished as a trade hub. European and Chinese cultures intermingled, creating a unique blend evident in its architecture, cuisine, and traditions. Now that it has become a major destination for economic thrill seekers, a new influence of Western luxury clientele etiquette has made its mark. What does this mean for locals and short- and long-haul travellers?

Etiquette plays a vital role across various facets of life in Macau, from business, dining, hospitality, and tourism. Visitors to Macau are encouraged to familiarise themselves with these etiquettes to ensure an enjoyable experience in Macau’s multicultural environment.

Respect for Elders: Confucian values heavily influence Macau's society, emphasising respect for elders. It's customary to address elders with deference and to offer them precedence in social situations.

Greetings: Traditional Chinese greetings involve a slight bow or nod of the head, often accompanied by a handshake. Addressing someone with their title or honorific, followed by their surname, is considered polite.

Gift Giving: Presenting gifts is a common practice in Macau, especially during festivals or social gatherings. Gifts are typically exchanged with both hands as a sign of respect. Avoid giving items in sets of four, as the number is associated with death in Chinese culture.

Language and Communication: While Portuguese is one of Macau's official languages, Cantonese and Mandarin Chinese are predominantly spoken. Learning a few basic phrases in either language can go a long way in showing respect and getting around faster.

Dress Code: Macau's dress code is generally conservative, particularly in formal settings and religious sites. Modest attire is expected, with women often opting for dresses or blouses and skirts, while men typically wear suits or dress shirts and trousers.

Tipping – You will find that restaurants will include a 10% service charge in the bill, while hotels may even levy a higher 15% charge. While tipping is not actively discouraged and won't be refused if offered.

Dining etiquette is particularly significant in Macau's rich culinary culture. A study by Jong-Hyeong Kim et al. (2023) emphasises the importance of understanding cultural factors such as customs, beliefs, and social norms that shape unique tourist dining experiences. These cultural intricacies contribute to the overall uniqueness of Macau's gastronomy scene, highlighting the need for tourists to be mindful of local dining customs to enhance their experiences.

One of these tips when ordering and earing Macanese food, you will need either implements which are chopsticks or a spoon and fork. Here is a list of mouthwatering gastronomic foods that you will find there:
• Porco Bafassa – Slow cooked stew with turmeric, pork and potatoes.
• Capela – minced meat with potatoes, chirozo, bacon, olives and tomatoes.
• Portuguese Chicken – Slow cooked with chicken, curry and potatoes, alternative toppings are eggs, sausage and olives, turmeric and coconut milk.
• Tacho – Casserole with cabbage mixed with pork skin, pork knuckles, chicken wings, roasted pork and Chinese sausages.
• Minchi - Minced beef or pork which could be served together with diced potatoes.
• Pork with Balichao and Tamarind – Casserole with cabbage, sausage, red beans, black beans, pig ear and pig knuckle.

Interestingly, Macau’s etiquette has been shaped by the many Westernised hotels and casinos that have slowly filtered through from places such as America and Australia. These hotels extend to conditional hospitality, as described by Luofu Ye (2018) and as noted by Yi-weiChang and M. Polonsky (2012); their study indicated the importance of polite and respectful interactions in maintaining a high standard of hospitality. Furthermore, the role of etiquette in shaping tourist behaviour and enhancing their experiences is critical in the multicultural context of Macau. You will find those in customer service in these hotels from China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and the Philippines.

You don’t need to be in Macau long to experience its fantastic history and note the difference in Asia. My sister and I loved being there; the cultural mix was unique. Macau is recommended for a one- to two-day stay that is easily accessible via Hong Kong.




For many years, Etiquipedia contributor, Elizabeth Soos, has had a keen interest in cultural customs. With her European background and extensive travel, Soos developed an interest in the many forms of respect and cultural expectations in the countries she has visited. With her 20 years’ experience in customer service within private international companies based in Australia, and her lifetime interest in manners and research, she decided to branch out into the field of etiquette and deportment. Through her self-directed studies and by completing the Train-The-Trainer’s course offered by Emma Dupont’s School of Etiquette in London and by Guillaume Rue de Bernadac at Academie de Bernadac based in Paris and Shanghai, she founded Auersmont School of Etiquette. Elizabeth is currently traveling throughout India and brushing up on her Hindi.

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


Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Gilded Age Fashions in Sleeves

“… the sleeves show a decided tendency to “grow bigger downward,” like Holmes’ strawberries.” 

The Newest Sleeves

The shoulder seams are longer, giving the sloping effect to the shoulders which is a distinctive characteristic of the Victorian style, and the sleeves show a decided tendency to “grow bigger downward,” like Holmes’ strawberries. The New York Times, which illustrates some of the newer sleeves, says: 
“The small puff or the epaulet of ruffles or loosely looped bows which ornament the spring gowns is only the last reluctant compromise on the part of fashion to the woman to whom the radical tendency in sleeves seems to leave them almost embarrassingly bare.” -Ruth Ashmore in Ladies' Home Journal, 1897


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

Monday, April 15, 2024

Etiquette and “Being Agreeable”


Miss Una Ware looks agreeable, but Mrs. Gorham Ware does not look agreeable when meeting Mr. Bessemer Steele
Why should we know the laws of etiquette? Why should we know the way to do and say things? Why should we be agreeable? These are questions that will undoubtedly arise in the mind of the young man or woman who is eager to cultivate and refine his or her manner and speech. The answer is: to make one's own life happier – to bring into it a new sunshine, a new joy of living that was not even dreamed of when the mind and spirit were shrouded in the gloom of discourtesy, coarseness and vulgarity.

For how can the boor be happy? With his gloomy face, sour disposition,complaining habits and inherent lack of good taste and culture, he sees only theshadows of life. People are repulsed by him, never attracted. Brilliant men and women, people of refinement and taste, will have nothing to do with him. He lives his own life – his ill-bred, complaining, gloomy, companionless life – an outcast from that better society of which we all long to be a part.

Culture and cheer go hand-in-hand. The cultured man or woman is alwayscheerful, always finding something good and beautiful in all mankind and nature. Cheerfulness itself means poise -a wholesome, happy, undaunted poise that makes life well-balanced and worth the living. The person of low, vulgar tastes and desires is seldom contented, seldom happy. He finds everywhere evil, ugliness, selfishness, and a tendency for the world generally to degrade itself to the lower levels of coarseness. He finds it because he looks for it. And he looks for it because it already exists in his mind.

And yet, he may be educated; he may be a recognized power in the financial world; he may even possess enviable talents. But if he lacks that glorious open-hearted generosity, that sincere sympathy and simple understanding with all mankind, that helpful, healthful, ever-inspiring agreeableness of mind and spirit – the world will have none of him.

The man who feels constantly grieved and injured at some injustice, real or imaginary, is sacrificing some of the best things life has to offer. He does not know what it means to be greeted with a smile of pleasure and a warm handclasp. He does not know what it means to be taken whole-heartedly into one's confidence, to be relied upon, to be appealed to. He does not know what it means, in his hours of darkest adversity, to receive the genuine sympathy and encouragement of a friend.

But with culture, with development of mind and spirit, with the desire to adhere truly to society’s laws and regard as inviolable the rights of others, there comes a new understanding of human relationship. Where once everything seemed narrow and selfish, one now sees love and beauty and helpfulness. Instead of harsh words and unkind glances, there are words of cheer and encouragement, smiles of friendliness and unders
tanding. The world that once seemed coarse, shallow and unpolished, seems now strangely cordial and polite. – Lillian Eichler, 1921


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

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Gilded Age Etiquette for Everyday

When a lady is out with a gentleman, either walking or driving, it is her privilege to suggest the time to return.
A lady should thank a gentleman for any courtesy shown her, no matter how slight it may be.

If the only guest at the family dinner table is a gentleman, he should not be served until all the ladies of the family have been attended to.

Writing on the first, then on the third, then crosswise on the second and fourth pages of a letter facilities the reading and is in perfectly good form.

When a lady is out with a gentleman, either walking or driving, it is her privilege to suggest the time to return.

When a lady is walking with two gentlemen, she may with propriety have one on either side of her.

When entertaining a friend, it is quite proper to ask all the members of one's social world to call upon her.

When someone expresses pleasure at meeting you, a smile and a bow are sufficient acknowledgment.– Ruth Ashmore in Ladies' Home Journal, 1897

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