Dining is one of those times when etiquette plays a big role. Not only is it a social event, but it’s active, requiring you to gracefully eat. Read on to see 5 of the most common dinner etiquette questions answered.
1. Where should I place my napkin when I temporarily leave the table?
If you leave the table for a moment place your napkin on your chair and push your chair in before leaving. If your napkin is already dirty try to fold it so that the mess is hidden on the inside, not visible to anyone walking by and not soiling the chair.
2. How should I remove an unwanted item from my mouth?
If you’ve come across an inedible item, whether it be bone or gristle that can’t possibly be swallowed, then the rule is “It goes out, how it went in.” So if you’re eating with a fork and you come across a fish bone, then raise the fork to your mouth and discreetly spit it on the fork and deposit it on the edge of your plate. If you’ve been eating with your fingers and say come across a piece of gristle from your BBQ, then swiftly remove the gristle with your thumb and index finger.
If it happens to be the unfortunate incident of a hair, then again use your fingers to pull it out, but be as quick and direct as possible. The point in all cases is to never make a show and to keep your mouth as closed as possible.
3. How should I excuse myself if I need to leave the table?
Ideally you should run to the restroom or take care of any business before you sit down to dinner, particularly if it’s formal, but things happen (bladders fill) and if need be, there is a polite way to excuse yourself. Keep it short and simple and say,”Please excuse me” before getting up from your chair. You don’t need to explain where you’re going, especially if it’s the restroom.
4. Do I have to eat food if I don’t like it?
If you’re at a dinner party and the host has prepared the meal you should do your best to eat as much as possible. You don’t have to force it all down, but at the very least have a few solid bites. Don’t lie and rave on about how delicious it is, try to walk the fine line of being honest and not hurting the host’s feelings. If they ask how you like it you can compliment the texture or color of the food, or the fact that it’s a perfect season for such a dish. Dig around for any positive feedback you can muster up.
If you’re at a restaurant this is less likely to happen as you have the option to order according to your personal taste, but if you happen to order something that is extremely distasteful or poorly cooked it’s ok to tell the waiter and order an alternative. Just bear in mind timing as to not hold up the other guests.
Whatever you do, don’t make overly dramatic faces or complain aloud. Of course if you have any allergies or dietary restrictions try to inform the host before hand. If it’s too late and your confronted with the inedible dish explain the situation if asked, but don’t make a fuss and eat whatever else is offered .
5. What should I do if I drop cutlery on the floor?
We’ve all dropped a fork or knife here and there. It may seem rude, but it’s better to leave it on the floor and ask for a new one. The wait staff will pick it up when convenient. You don’t want to be scurrying under the table or across the room to retrieve anything. You also don’t want to put a dirty object back on the table.
HOMEWORK: Do you have any other dining dilemmas that need answering? If so, ask away in the comments below. Or feel free to share if you have any tips of your own.