Table Manners | Basic Table Manners in the Family
The Time to Come to the Table, and to Leave
If the family head prefers the whole family to come to the table first, before anyone, starts eating, his family members should try not to be late in coming. Some people have the habit of being so ‘pleasantly absorbed’ in what they are doing that they almost always are late at the dining table, making other member sick.
We should avoid doing this and also avoid the habit of leaving the table sooner than the rest of the family. Lunch Lime or dinner time is when we converse, ask about each other’s welfare and exchange news. To be so openly disinterested is to show and foster an undesirable, uncaring attitude.
The Proper Way to Sit
- We should not lean forward and rest on the dining table.
- We should not put our elbows on the table.
- We should not lean back till we look immodest.
- We should not swing our weight onto just two legs or one leg of the chair causing it to weaken or to break.
The Use of a Common or Serving Spoon
A serving spoon is of great importance. We should have a serving spoon in every common dish from which everyone may take another portion after the first serving. This is not only for the sake of cleanliness but also to protect everyone from getting an infection if a sick, virus-carrying person happens to be enjoying the same meal.
The Proper Way of using Forks and Spoons
While using a fork and a spoon to eat, if any piece of food sticks to either of the utensils, one should not knock the two poor things together to cause the morsel to fall off, thus making unwanted music (clanging) for other people at the table. The thing to do is use either the fork or the spoon to scrape off the morsel from its partner.
You should notice if there is a common serving spoon or not. If it is there, do not use your own personal spoon or fork to spoon up, or pick up food from the common serving dish. It is also important not to pick and choose, touching this piece and that piece of food, and then picking up yet another piece! Especially if you do this with the personal spoon that has gone into your mouth several times! The best thing to do is ask for a serving spoon if it is not there.
Do not convey to your mouth too big a mouthful. This may leave some rice or other food particle saying hello to people from upon or somewhere around your lips.
Make good use of your napkin or paper napkin.
The Proper way of Using Chopsticks
Whether you use chopsticks to eat inside or outside your home, you should not lift up your bowl of rice and use the two chopsticks to push rice into your mouth. Nowadays it is no longer done because it does not look good. What most people do is hold the chopsticks so that the two ends are together, then use these ends to spoon up some decent amount of rice and convey the rice to the mouth. It is wrong to dip your chopsticks into the big common bowl of soup groping in the bowl for a piece of chicken or mushroom in the soup! This is washing your chopsticks in the soup meant for everybody!
In eating things like noodles, do not clamp up a big cluster of the noodles, thus getting a terribly big mouthful, which, to make it worse, is equipped with short and long hanging ends. Pinch up only a decent amount of the noodles and the hanging ends will not be too many or too long. This way, you may need to turn the chopsticks round two or three times only to get a neat lump around them, to convey nicely to your mouth.
What should be strongly forbidden and yet not realized by some well-meaning people is using their chopsticks to pick up food for someone near them. Nobody likes eating something touched by chopsticks that have gone into another person’s mouth several times!
Nobody wants to see the shape or colour of food in your mouth, especially when it is being mixed with saliva, so do not open your mouth as you chew or eat. For the same reason, it is just as bad to speak when there is food in your mouth, and also because doing this makes your voice sound ‘unclean’.
There should not be an audible sound in food chewing or soup drinking. When some delicacy looks really appetizing to you, do not spoon out a great portion. Consider what you are leaving behind. Is it enough to share among the rest of the people who get to it after you?
When you want things like salt and pepper shakers, do not reach out in front or over people near you but ask them to pass them to you. Having used them, look near and around to see if anyone else would like to have them, instead of just happily leaving them within your own reach for your convenience alone.
When asked to pass anything to anyone at the dining table, pass it. Do not take the liberty to use it first. If you want anything, take it before someone asks you to pass that thing to him.
When you have spooned out something for yourself, look around to see if anyone else is waiting for it, or would like to have it next. That person may be far at the other end. Pass it to him or to someone near you to pass it on to him. You will be surprised at the number of people to whom it never occurs to take care of someone near them, much less a person farther away at one end of the dining table.
In some families, the dining table is a round one with a smaller revolving inner part for placing, say about 5 to 6 dishes, to be enjoyed by the whole family. When seated at such a table, you should look before setting the revolving part into motion to get what you want, because someone may have already done so before you. When you see this, just wait your turn. But there are some thoughtless people who just boldly stop the motion and get what they want first, as the dish they eye is about to pass them! Another thing is, if you do not look first, someone may be in the act of spooning out something and then the revolving part goes off suddenly and that person is left with the common spoon in his hand in the air! Very embarrassing!
If there is a piece of bone or something you need to take out of your mouth, do not spit or bend your head down to drop it directly from your mouth onto your plate. Use your spoon to receive it from your mouth and place it at the edge of your plate. In eating, sit up straight and bring the spoon or the fork up to your mouth in a dignified way instead of bending your head down to a lowered spoon or fork.
After eating, put your fork and spoon together. But before this, use them to gather what remains on your plate together and leave it at the middle of your plate. Unless it is necessary, avoid the use f a toothpick. If it is necessary, use it and avoid picking something out from between your teeth by using your fingers!
Be quick in using the toothpick. It is not a pretty sight so do not indulge too long in it. And never, never leave the toothpick poised in between your lips, daring everyone to look at you.
If most other people have finished eating but you have not and the maids are already taking away the dinner plates, leave your fork and spoon apart on your plate so that they will know and not come to take your plate away. But you should not take too long to eat and hold up the dessert, making other people have to wait a long while, especially when you are at a rather formal party.