To Be a Gentleman Abroad...
The Way One Must Eat in England and Dress in France
In polite society in England, a fish knife is always served with fish. You will take it for a butter knife, but as you will look in vain for the butter, you are safe in using it for fish. Bread is served as an article of food and is not used as a pusher. The fork is always kept in the left hand, not juggled from one hand to the other. Vegetables, including peas, are mashed on the back of it with a knife. Small knives and forks are served with all fruits. Under no circumstances is fruit desecrated by a touch of the fingers. A fork and dessert spoon are served with all desserts. You push the confection on the spoon with the fork and proceed as usual. Tea, coffee and cocoa are not sipped with a spoon. A teaspoon is to stir with. After it has served that purpose, its little mission is over, and it reposes placidly on the saucer. When you have finished with them, the knife and fork are placed on the plate directly in front of you. While dining, under no circumstances allow them to rest half on the plate and half on the table. You may be called a ‘‘rower” if you do.
Bread is broken with one hand only, the left one usually. All vegetables, excepting asparagus, are served on the dinner plate. You will look for the birds bath tubs in vain. You may break all the Ten Commandments, but by observing the above and taking a daily tub you will pass for a gentleman. By failure in any one of these details you will find yourself utterly déclassé. In England all social etiquette that is not English, is vulgar. When you reach France, however, you may relapse into all your little home comforts. You may pick your teeth and manicure your nails in a restaurant, and you can eat anything you like with your fingers. You may omit your daily tub and patronize the “parfumerie.” But if you wish to be a gentleman you must wear smart clothes, smart clothes consisting chiefly of gayly colored waistcoats, socks and ties. The most important man in France is the hotel concierge. He possesses the “open sesame” of all things. After you have paid your respects to him in due form, you may consider yourself one of the initiated. – New York Sun, 1913
Etiquette Enthusiast, is the Site Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia