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Dining Etiquette

Dining Etiquette is dependent on culture; what is excellent etiquette in one society may shock in another. For instance, In China, a person who takes the last item of food from a common plate or bowl without first offering it to others at the table may be seen as a glutton and insulting the generosity of the host, while in most European cultures a guest is expected to eat all of the food given to them, as a compliment to the quality of the cooking.
Dining etiquette refers the correct behavior to be maintained at the table while taking meals. Many of these Ďrulesí evolved out of practicality, for example it is considered rude to put your elbows on the table because doing so creates a risk of tipping over plates and bowls. In the 18th century, Dining etiquette started gaining a snob value, no gentleman or Lady, should they drop their napkin would retrieve it. Instead they would discreetly draw the attention of the servants who would then equally discreetly replace the napkin. However, in todayís world all this seems pretty irrelevant and exaggerated, imagine trying to draw the waiterís attention at a Pizza hut with a subtle wiggle of an eyebrow and the downward flicker of the glance, he may just end up think you are making a pass at him!

That is not to say that all table manners are unnecessary in todayís world. Thereís emerging something of a global culture and despite belonging to different parts of the world, there seems to be a set notion and organized pattern of what is considered appropriate. Lets take a look at some important aspects of Dining etiquette.

  • Chew with the mouth closed and do not attempt to talk while chewing. I canít stress enough the importance of this point. Nobody, and I mean nobody is interested in seeing the mashed remnants of food in your mouth and lose their appetites in the process, so even if you are bursting to join in the conversation, chew and swallow your food properly first.

  • If possible, refrain from coughing and sneezing on the table. Use your napkin, if you must and always excuse yourself afterwards. Under no circumstances should you belch at the table (or anywhere else for that matter!), Its plain disgusting, excuse yourself and head to the restrooms if you are holding on to one. However, this rule is relaxed when it comes to the elderly.

  • Do not stretch across the table (and knock down half the things in the process). Should you need something, politely ask for it to be passed down to you.

  • Do not eat with your fingers, unless you are eating finger food like fries etc. Chew slowly and concentrate on your food when you eat.

  • The general rule for removing food from your mouth is that it should go out the same way it went in. Therefore, olive pits can be delicately dropped onto an open palm before putting them onto your plate, and a piece of bone discovered in a bite of chicken should be returned to the plate by way of the fork. Fish is an exception to the rule. It is fine to remove the tiny bones with your fingers, since they would be difficult to drop from your mouth onto the fork. And, of course, if what you have to spit out will be terrifically ugly -- an extremely fatty piece of meat that you simply can't bring yourself to swallow, for example -- it will be necessary to surreptitiously spit it into your napkin, so that you can keep it out of sight.

  • If a finger bowl is offered to you, gently dip your fingers in it and wipe them on your napkin. Please do not start scrubbing your nails with that small piece of lime.

One needs to be careful about their dining etiquette when dining with colleagues or acquaintances, however when with friends and family its all right to relax that code a bit as long as it doesnít border on disgusting (boys having burping competitions, thatís disgusting!!)