October 31, 2005


It's my sincere hope that every one of you get to go to a really nice restaurant at least once a month,if not you should try.Experience something more than a place that has a drive-thru or gives you a plastic bib with a picture of a lobster on it.And when you go to these fancier places, there is a certain amount of class that is expected of you.
So I've compiled a list of basic table manners for you:
GENERAL TIP #1: For all questions involving etiquette, just use your brains.
Men don't have to get all Victorian and insist on standing up every time a woman leaves or returns to the table. Just be polite. Now, if you're a guest at someone's house, don't sit until the host sits first (unless the host told you to just go sit down at the table). In fact, when dealing with hosts, remember…
GENERAL TIP #2: Never do anything until the host does it first.
This includes sit, eat, put your napkin on the table, and leave. After all, the host is paying for the shindig, so at least make him/her feel like (s)he's in charge.
OK, so we've overcome the hurdle of getting your ass into the chair. Now it's time to take inventory and figure out which stuff is yours. We've all gone to a dinner and used our neighbor's fork, glass, bread plate, or husband(Oh that's just me...). So here's a shortcut so that you can know exactly what is yours:
(1) Your plate is in the center. (2) Knives and spoons are on your right, and forks and your napkin on the left. (3) Liquids (e.g., your water) go to your right, and solids (e.g., bread plate) go on your left. Here's a funky example of what the utensil layout in front of you may look like:

OK,you know where your stuff is. But now it's time to know how to use everything properly. Take your napkin and place it in your lap right away when you sit down. (It should never be on the table.) Don't get fancy and try to snap it open. Just put it on your lap (NOT into your shirt). If you're a man, do not put your tie over your shoulder.
The first part of the meal comes: the appetizers. But what utensil should you use? You can find the answer in…
GENERAL TIP #3: Use your utensils from the outside in.
The fork furthest to the outside is the one you should use for the appetizer. When the next part of the meal comes, use the next outermost fork, and so on. Same deal goes for the spoons and knives. If you're in a fancy restaurant or a catered event at my place, you might be lucky enough to have waiters who will remove any utensils you won't need. But even if you do not have this luxury,use your brains! You won't use a knife to eat your soup. You won't use a spoon to eat your salad. But let's say that you lose track of your utensils and get lost. Then, proceed to…
GENERAL TIP #4: If you're not sure what to do, wait and see what your neighbor does. If that offers no clue, then just fake it.
Chances are, nobody's watching you closely enough to see that you're using your dinner fork instead of the salad fork (the salad fork is the smaller one). Don't draw attention to yourself. Don't make a big deal of it. Just take a guess and eat. If you used the wrong utensil, the waiter will bring you a replacement.
GENERAL TIP #5: Do not put the entire soup spoon in your mouth.
Instead, fill a soup spoon about 75% with soup, bring it up to your mouth, and sip it from the side with as little slurping as possible. When your soup runs low, it's acceptable to tip your bowl away from you so that you can capture the last bits of soup, but don't do that more than twice. And remember to lower your spoon into your soup gently so that it doesn't bang the bottom of the bowl. Imagine 20 people eating soup and banging their bowl bottoms.
GENERAL TIP #6: If you spill something, don't make a big deal of it.

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