Principles of table manners

It is recognized that manners are culture-bound, however, there are principles that are similar in different cultures and make good sense.

1.  Show respect first to the host and then to the other guests.

Defer to the host. Let the host go first or wait until the host asks you to go ahead. Sit up straight in your chair. Avoid putting your elbows on the table. Don’t grab items in front of others; rather, ask them to pass the items. Don’t leave the table without asking permission or excusing yourself.

  1. Use the utensils for the food intended by the host.

Use utensils from the outside in toward the plate. Some foods that you may eat with your fingers: artichoke, asparagus (as long as there is no sauce on it, and it’s not too long), bacon (but only if it is crisp), sandwiches, cookies, small fruits or berries with stems, french fries and potato chips, hamburgers and hot dogs, corn on the cob, caviar, pickles.

  1. Use utensils in a manner that doesn’t approach threatening the host or guests.

Place sharper knife edges toward the plate. Hold fork tines downward. Don’t point utensils at others.

  1. Use utensils in a manner that doesn’t approach dirtying the host or guests.

Once you use a utensil, don’t let it touch the table again. Avoid dropping, splattering etc. food.

  1. Eat in a manner that minimizes non-speech sounds.

Avoid slurping, chomping, burping, etc. Minimize the sounds emitted from your mouth when chewing. Chew slower, keep mouth more closed to lessen sounds.

  1. Eat in a manner that minimizes others seeing chewed food.

Acceptable: don’t speak with food on your tongue. Better: don’t speak with any food in your mouth. Don?t speak with a mouth full of food unless it’s an emergency. Use your napkin to remove food from your mouth, etc. Don’t put the entire soup spoon in your mouth.

April 13, 2002