It’s amazing how people like me go through life without understanding certain basics and etiquette. Don’t worry it doesn’t mean I am a brash person, I was just referring to lack of my knowledge when it came to ‘Dining Etiquette’. I have attended a few formal sit down dinners, but luckily never a seven course meal. Mostly a three course or a five course meal and have managed my way all along. Ok, to be fair I know a few things like fork has to be held in my left hand and the knife in the right hand, napkin on my lap (didn’t know it had to be folded) and plates change after each course. These are thing that I picked up over the years, lots of years :)!
While like most of us I enjoy eating some of my food with hand, some foods as per me just don’t taste as good with a fork and a knife. For example for me eating a ‘dosa’ with cutlery would just not taste the same. But then when I don’t want to be unprepared for a seven course formal sit down dinner. Just have a look at what it entails.
Intimidating, isn’t it? I simple got lost when I first saw it at the Femina Believe ‘Dining Etiquette Workshop’ which I attended recently. You guessed it right, this was a dining etiquette workshop held by Femina Believe at Hakkasan. Hakkasan is one of my favourite Chinese resaturant in the city. Though it is actually classic cantonese cuisine with Chinese touches. The food is far from typical and the taste far from forgettable. Needless to say the foodie in my loves the place. Coming back to the workshop, Greeshma was our mentor/ consultant for the day. She took us through a journey of dos and donts when it came to table manners. Here are something that I picked up in the workshop;
If you’re wondering why I have mentioned your favourite car brand when it comes to table manners, let me clarify by stating that this is decoding the seven course meal or any formal meal set-up you will face in your life.
B– Bread. The bread plate is always placed on your left.
M– Meal. The meal plates or the plates in which you eat are placed in the centre.
W– Water and wine. On your right side . So all your water ,wine, tea glasses/cups will be on the right side.
Other Important Pointers;
- The cutlery is laid out in a way that you keep the ones required for earlier courses on the outside and then keep going in. So a salad fork will be placed on the outside and the fork on the inside is the one you are supposed to eat your meal with.
- Knife is always to be placed facing inwards and you always use the knife diagonally to cut into your meal.
- Never place your elbows on the table or hands under the table. You can place your wrists at the edge of the table.
- Never bite into a bread but break it with hand and eat.
- Always place the napkin on you lap and if it is huge then fold diagonally and place on your lap. Never around your neck. If eating messy things like a crab ask for an apron.
- In between you meal, if you have to get up and go put your fork and knife in a 8.20 look hand position and your napkin folded and on your chair.
- Grooming on the table is a strict no. If you want to comb your hair etc ,please head to the powder room.
- Any used cutlery cannot be put back on the table. Keep it on you plate or ask it to be changed.
- Soup is not a drink. It’s part of a meal. You should leave you spoon in the soup bowl before sending it away.
- Always wish “Bon appetite” to your host before starting your meal and always wait to follow your host .
- For firm dessert you use a pastry fork and for softer desserts you use a dessert spoon.
- There are some foods you have to eat with hands. For e.g. pizza.
- For drinking soup don’t bend. Dip you spoon and tip your bowl on the side. You should not make noise while doing this. If there is a little soup left n the bowl then tilt the bowl outward and fill you spoon.
- Never season your food without tasting it. This may offend the chef.
- Put your knife and fork in a 4.20 position when you are done with your meal.
There can be an unending list to this with specifics like don’t take huge bites, don’t make sounds while eating and more. But I have tried to focus on the pointers that we are unaware of. Also different countries follow different norms. So it is worthwhile to check on those before visiting a new country. For e.g. in the U.S. you are supposed to order for yourself and they don’t like sharing a meal. In Italy, you should not ask for a milk beverage like a coffee after your meal.
What was the highpoint for me in the workshop? Greeshma, promised us that in five minutes she will teach us how to eat with chopsticks and true to her words by the end of the class I wasn’t only eating I was picking peanuts with chopsticks. Huge achievement as I alone know how long I have struggled with chopsticks. See a quick video of me learning to eat with chopsticks. Did I mention this video was shot by my very talented and pretty friend Ekta from Haute Kutir Blog?
Hope you enjoyed reading this quick short guide to Dining etiquette. Would love some constructive feedbacks :)!