Thursday, July 11, 2019

Table Etiquette Explained

If salt is liked with celery or radishes, it should be placed on the bread and butter plate and the relish dipped in it as needed.– Photo source Instagram

There seems to be quite a difference of opinion as to the proper forms of etiquette for the table. Simplicity and the thing that seems easiest to do should be the guiding rule, but some customs have become fixed and are generally accepted in all civilized countries; therefore, it would seem wise to accept them, even though in some ways they may seem cumbersome. It is always correct to serve on the left of the diner because it is the only comfortable way for the right-handed person. It is the custom as well to remove dishes from the left side rather than from the right, which might seem easier. It has become so subconsciously grounded in everyone’s mind that the removing of plates is done always on the left side, that any divergence from this is bound to bring about collision with the right hand of the diner. 
The question is often asked how to remove fish bones and the pits of fruit from the mouth gracefully. It seems to me the most inconspicuous way is to push the bone or stone well forward with the tongue and gently remove it with the forefinger and thumb to the side of the plate. Prune pits and melon seeds naturally slip into the spoon held very close to the lips and are then placed noiselessly on the edge of the plate. The bread and butter plates are placed on the left of the large plate forward. If salt is liked with celery or radishes, it should be placed on the bread and butter plate and the relish dipped in it as needed. In case a salad is served with the main course, that is placed on the left also, but on a line with the larger plate. All beverages, are, of course, placed on the right. 
When the man of the house is doing the carving on the table and there is no maid to serve, it would seem easier to have the vegetables placed before the mistress. In many homes, the man of the house serves both meat and vegetables. This is, however, a matter of convenience and taste. If there is a maid and carving is done on the table, the hot plates are placed before the carver and the meat is served, the first going to the mistress of the house and the next to the guest of honor. When all the meat is served, the waitress will pass the vegetables, beginning with the hostess, the idea being that the hostess is the one who gives the signal to begin to eat. We used to be taught as children that it was bad form to begin eating the meat until all the vegetables were served, but this has been done away with by a good many people who prefer to eat their meat while it is hot rather than to wait until all the vegetables have been passed. But in all instances, the hostess gives the signal to begin to eat.  – By Florence Austin Chase, 1929

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

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