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