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Guy's Guide to Good Table Manners Slideshow

Guy's Guide to Good Table Manners Slideshow

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The Worst Dining Habits of All Time, Ranked

These offenses aren't just distasteful&mdashthey're downright appalling.

Since the beginning of mankind&mdashor at least since the Roman Empire&mdashhumans have gathered to eat food in a communal fashion. One would think, after thousands of years, certain criteria for dining in a group would be &ldquoset in stone,&rdquo as it were, to keep peace among the natives. However, time and again we find ourselves encountering distasteful&mdashand downright appalling&mdashdining taboos.

The worst offenders are as follows:


Table Manners

General food etiquette – ie. medieval table manners – were very important and getting them right was crucial if a special banquet was to be a success.

The extravagant feasts and excesses of the many banquets held in 12th-15th century England and Europe are legendary. For those who had the resources, these occasions would be incredibly opulent affairs. However, they were certainly not a ‘free-for-all’ where everyone invited just ate and drank to excess. Far from it. Good table manners were the order of the day. From the Lord of the manor, his family, friends and guests, even members of royal families, everyone was expected to know and use good table manners. In fact, the worldliness of knights and squires who had travelled far and wide. particularly during the Medieval Crusades, led to a resurgence and pride in maintaining elegant manners and meticulous presentation. There would be beautifully arranged colourful displays of flowers adorning the medieval banquet table and the food served would contain a wide variety of wonderful flavours and spices.

The food served at a typical medieval banquet would be chosen and purchased by a squire of the kitchen on behalf of the Lord or the King. The meals prepared would be initially placed on a dresser in the kitchen until it would be taken forth into the Great Hall of the castle and formally presented, often to a musical fanfare from musicians in the minstrel’s gallery.
On arrival, guests were generally invited to wash their hands at the entrance to the Great Hall and then they would proceed to be seated so that grace could be said.

Buffets & Manners

Buffets were a raked assembly of wooden planks, in effect a series of shelves and the number of the shelf would indicate rank with the highest shelves being reserved for people of the highest rank. Fine plates of gold or silver would be displayed on the buffet and it is from these that servants would serve the food.

The number of courses presented at a banquet might vary but for a prestigious occasion there would probably be at least five or six courses in the case of a lord or king this could actually be up to a dozen. A key point in table manners during the medieval era was that every dish or drink that was consumed by the highest-ranking members of the gathering would first be tasted by a servant to check that it was not poisoned. In truth this became less of a practical consideration and was more a ceremonial ritual.


- Sneezing, Coughing, Blowing your Nose. When sneezing or coughing at the table is unavoidable, cover your nose or mouth with a napkin and proceed as quietly as possible. Except in an emergency, don't use a napkin to blow your nose. Leave the table and use a handkerchief instead.

- Reservations.

  • Call a day or two ahead or a week or two ahead if the restaurant and day are popular.
  • Reconfirm the reservation by calling on the day of your visit.
  • Call the restaurant during meal hours to speak to the official reservationist.

Dining

If you share a meal with anyone, learn proper table manners. No one wants to sit across the table from a slob who talks with his mouth open or snorts milk through his nose.

Learn proper table manners:

    – Follow the basics that apply to almost every dining situation. If having your elbows on the table makes it rock, take them off the table. Put your napkin in your lap, use the flatware starting with the one farthest from the plate, and don't talk with your mouth full. – Learn all about how to conduct yourself when dining out. Arrive before your scheduled reservation, be polite to your server, keep your voice at a conversational level, and be a generous tipper. – Know how to act at a formal dinner party, including which utensils to use for each course. If you're ever in doubt about which fork goes with each course, look to the host or hostess and follow them.


Be Kind and Polite

It's basic: Being nice to those around you shows you value them as people. Practice being polite. Think about other people and what you can do for them. They will notice and you will impress. Treating others well has been shown to make you feel better about yourself, too.


Be Prompt

Being on time shows people you're in control and that you respect them and their time. Use datebooks and set pings to remind you of meetings and tasks. Prepare for big events and meetings the night before. Try to figure out how much time a task will take. Plan for bumps that might throw you off, like rush-hour traffic. Give yourself more time than you think you'll need.


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If my 3½-year-old son doesn't hear or understand someone, he says "Whadyousay?" We want him to say something such as "Pardon me," but that's so formal! He is confused if we tell him to say "Excuse me?" because he thinks that is for burping or tooting!

Short words such as "Sorry?" (asked as a question) might work as well as "Excuse me," with his hand cupped around the ear. When he does get it right, reward him in some way to reinforce the behavior. You can start a "Good Job" jar and fill it with beans or marbles. When the jar is full, reward him with a special treat such as a snack or toy. If he forgets and still says,"Whadyousay?" remove something from the jar.


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Conclusion

I know sometimes manners and etiquette seem arbitrary. But at the end of the day, these guidelines were established to simply be a universal set of understood behavior—so we can all behave civilly around each other.

Not everyone is going to be offended if you don’t follow these guidelines. But once you learn basic table manners, you realize that they’re not difficult to keep up. So why not practice proper dining etiquette if you can? It certainly doesn’t hurt to try, and many people will appreciate that you were conscientious enough to behave like a proper gentleman at the table.

Final morsel: if you get through a meal without repeating the words “please”, “thank you”, or “excuse me” at least a few times each, chances are you could stand to be a little more polite and conscientious to your fellow diners.

What other tips do you have about table manners or dining etiquette? Leave a comment below!