Table Manners 101: Basic Dining Etiquette

Table Manners 101: Basic Dining Etiquette

August 26, 2019 100 By Stanley Isaacs


Hey guys, I’m Kyle from The Distilled Man. And up next we’re going to be talking about table manners and how to avoid embarrassing yourself when you dine out with other people. When you hear the words manners or etiquette, I know sometimes you might just think of rules you blindly have to follow for the heck of it. But actually that’s not the case. At their core manners are just being considerate and respectful to the people around you. Table manners are particularly important because, well let’s face it there’s a lot more ways to gross someone out when you’re eating with them. You know, when you’re slurping and chomping and burping and splattering… Versus when you’re just like sitting next to them on a train reading a newspaper. Because of that table manners have always been a good “tell” about someone’s overall refinement, their upbringing and their sort of sensitivity and kind of self-awareness around other people. So my thought is even if you don’t practice impeccable table manners at home, it is important to know how to behave properly for those important occasions. Today we’re going to be talking about some easy to follow guidelines that will help keep your table manners on point throughout an entire meal. Sitting down at the table. So you’re just about to sit down at the table, that a great time for you to silence your phone and put it away. You don’t want to be that guy whose phone is going off during a nice dinner. The other thing you want to do is make sure to wait for everyone to gather around the table. To about to be seated before you sit down yourself. And you may want to take a cue with the host or hostess The first thing you do when you sit down is generally put your napkin on your lap. And in really formal settings, you’d actually wait for an indication from the host or hostess to do this, but in most setting you’re probably safest just to put your napkin on your lap when you first sit down so you don’t forget. Of course that should never go in your shirt, you should keep it on your lap. But your napkin is your friend, so feel free to use it throughout the meal to blot your mouth and keep it clean. Body Language When you’re sitting down your posture should be upright. You should try to avoid slouching or leaning way back on your chair. Keeping your elbows off the table. So this is kind of a misunderstood rule. Of course, it isn’t acceptable to put your elbows on the table while your eating and in general you want to kind of keep your free hand on your lap. While you”re eating, but it is actually acceptable to put your elbows on the table in between courses when you’re not eating. And particularly after the meal if you’re just enjoying conversation with the other diners, you can put your elbows on the table, lean in and it’s totally fine. The Place Setting Oh, the place setting! Nothing gives people greater anxiety than the place setting. You sit down and there’s all these glasses and plates and implements. You don’t know what’s going on, it’s totally overwhelming. Now the first thing that you want to figure out is, where’s my bread plate and where’s my water glass. Because you don’t want to be like sipping off someone else’s glass or stealing someone else’s bread. So I like to use this trick that my friend Dave showed me that’s really handy. Just remember “b” and “d”. So, b for bread and d for drink. And that kind of always tells you what side everything is on. When it comes to understanding which glass is for what, honestly you shouldn’t have to worry about it. Because most likely when you get there to the table your water glass is probably already filled. Or it will be pretty obvious which one the glass is. And if you do have multiple wine glasses, generally that means you’re probably gonna be in a place that has servers or a sommelier and then the server sommelier is going to be the one who’s going to fill up your glass anyway. So you don’t need to really think about it. When it comes to silverware, there’s something you’ve got to understand. First of all, if the person who laid it out actually knows what they’re doing, then each utensil should be laid to the order that the dishes should be presented. You know anything that is served on a flat plate should be eaten with a fork. And anything that’s served in a bowl should be eaten with a spoon. The only thing that you really need to remember is that you start with utensils closest to you and work from your outside in. Those utensils on the top, above your plate are for dessert don’t worry about them for now. On your left side, you’re probably going to have some forks. On your right side, you’re probably going to have some knives some spoon or two. And then maybe mincer fork looking thing, that’s a seafood fork, essentially. Starting the Meal So as much as you want to tear into your food, because you’re hungry, when it first arrives in front of you. You’ve got to wait until everyone else is served and in really formal dinners you would actually wait to get a cue from the host or hostess. But usually you’re safe if everyone is served. In the western world, there are sort of two acceptable ways to hold your fork and knife. There’s the American Style and the Continental Style. With the American Style, you hold the fork with the dominant hand, kind of like a pencil. And then when it comes to cut something, you switch hands and that’s why this is sometimes called the zigzag style, also. And you use your dominant hand to cut with the knife. Cut a single bite of food and switch the fork back to your dominant hand to take a bite. And while you’re doing that if you want to set the knife down you can place it at the top of your plate. With the blade facing down towards you. With the Continental Style, you keep your fork in your non dominant hand and then you still cut with your dominant hand but you don’t switch them. According to Emily Post, either way is fine. This is actually what I do because it’s a little bit easier, you’re switching back and forth. And of course when you’re eating with your fork and not cutting, you should be keep your other hand on your lap. And remember don’t reach across the table, if something is close enough to you that you can grab it and you’re not reaching over another diner, you can feel free to reach out and get it. But otherwise you’re going to have to ask someone else to pass it to you. “Can you please pass the salt.” And on that note if someone asks you to pass the salt, you always give them the pepper as well and vice versa. Finger Foods Yes, believe it or not, it is okay actually to eat certain foods with your fingers when you’re at a formal dinner. You know obvious finger foods like corn on the cob, chicken wings or ribs, or pizza, or tacos, you can eat with your fingers but you have to use your judgement, if it does look like it’s going to be really messy maybe try to use a fork if you can. Chewing and Talking You probably already know that you’re not supposed to talk with your mouth full of food.