Look around next time you go out to dinner. Whether you’re at a fast food restaurant or a fancy eatery, too many people have no idea how to eat in public.
Sure, eating serves a function, but when you go out, there has to be a bit of decorum or those around you, or those accompanying you, may not enjoy their own meal.Most of us were taught table etiquette by our parents. But, we tend to be so casual at home that we often slip when we’re out in public. Honestly, practicing good manners at home as well as when dining out is best. Practice makes perfect!
Most of us remember that it’s bad manners to chew with our mouths open or talk with food in our mouths (although too few people remember to practice this… yuck!). But there are also guidelines that tell us how to talk, where to put a napkin, when to eat, and more.
The first thing you should do after you’ve been seated at a restaurant is to put you napkin in your lap. You don’t need to shake it out or wave it around before you use it – you’re not a magician – you just need to open it and lay it across your lap. If you need to leave the table, place your napkin to the right of your plate, and return it to your lap when you return to the table. After you’re done eating, lightly fold the napkin and put it on the table, to the left of your plate.
Never begin eating when your food arrives unless everyone else at the table has been served as well. And, although there are some pretty complicated rules about how to use silverware, the basics dictate that, once you use a piece of silverware, it should not be placed on the table again. Always rest used silverware against the side of the plate.
Here are some other basics:
• Don’t blow on your food if it’s too hot.
• Taste your food before dumping salt and pepper on what your host or hostess has lovingly prepared.
• Pass food from left to right and never intercept a pass. That means that, as the salt and pepper passes
you on it’s way to whoever asked for it, don’t help yourself. Wait until it is your turn.
• Don’t reach across the table to snag what you want.
• Don’t use your own silverware in a serving dish.
• Eat and speak quietly; no slurping, burping, or shouting.
• Don’t pick your teeth or blow your nose at the table; excuse yourself and go to the restroom.
• Speaking of the restroom, excuse yourself when leaving the table, but telling your dinner partner(s)
that you are going to the restroom is too much information. Just say “I’ll be right back.”
• Wash your hands before beginning to eat or before handling food. No one wants to share your germs.
• Turn off your cell phone or switch it to vibrate. Never answer your phone at the table. If you
absolutely have to take a call, step out of the restaurant to do so.
• When dining out and splitting the bill, make sure that you tell your server before you order. If you are
dining with other couples, assume that you will be splitting the bill per couple.
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